Utah Governor Asks Obama to Approve His State’s Health Exchange

December 12, 2012

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert asked President Barack Obama on Tuesday for help getting the state’s small-business health insurance marketplace approved as good enough for Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Utah created a health insurance exchange for small businesses in 2007 and Herbert doesn’t want to extend its reach to other aspects of Obamacare, including its Medicaid expansion, and the individual mandate that nearly everyone obtain health insurance, the Huffington Post website is reporting.

“Please instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to certify the current Utah version of an exchange as compliant with the Affordable Care Act,” Herbert wrote in his letter Obama, which was printed in the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. “You have supported giving flexibility for states. Certifying our current exchange will give us that flexibility. I am confident that if you make this change, several other states will join Utah.”

The Department of Health and Human Services was reviewing the letter, a spokeswoman for the department said in an email to The Huffington Post.

States have until Friday to decide whether to create their own exchange, partner with the federal government or have the feds operate one for them.

Utah’s exchange is called Avenue H, and it’s a web-based shopping tool where small-business employees can shop for health insurance using contributions from their employer, however it’s not open to individuals.

“I respectfully request that you instruct HHS to declare the Utah exchange model as the minimum federal standard,” Herbert wrote. “I am confident that if you make this change, several other states will join Utah and request certification for ‘state-based exchanges’ based on our model.”

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