Utah’s 2023 Legislative Session, which concluded on Friday, March 3rd, was notable for passing the largest budget in Utah history, at $29 billion dollars. A top priority of the American Heart Association was building on momentum of the previous year and passing postpartum Medicaid extension legislation, which we were able to successfully achieve in the final days of the session! There were other bills that are worth mentioning that have impact on AHA issue areas, but the Postpartum Medicaid Extension (SB133) is certainly the biggest news for us in the 2023 Session.
SB 133 Modifications to Medicaid Coverage (Sen. Harper), extends postpartum Medicaid coverage to those eligible from the current 60 days to 12 months. The bill also raises the federal poverty level eligibility for family planning services covered by Medicaid from the current 95% to 185%. It passed the final week of the Session with full funding ($3.1 million on-going). The bill includes language qualifying people who can participate (any pregnancy that doesn't end with an elective abortion), requiring the state to apply for an 1115 Waiver rather than a State Plan Amendment. In the bill, the Legislature asks the Department of Health that if the Waiver is denied or not approved by January 1, 2024, to apply for a waiver or amendment that will be quickly approved in accordance with CMS policy. So, though this process will have to play out, I would suspect Utah has a full program by early 2024.
A bad tobacco bill that emerged mid-session was SB 248 Tobacco Amendments (Sen. Cullimore), which would have 1) allowed online sales of cigars and pipe tobacco, and 2) allowed for temporary event permits for tobacco manufacturers to sell at events. This bill worried us due to the likelihood that minors were exposed to tobacco product advertising or access to sales at the temporary permit events or via online sales, and potential conflicts with the indoor clean air act. The language of the bill left plenty of room for loopholes and raised the concern of AHA allies including public health departments. Versions of this bill have been run in past sessions and failed, though this year it was put in the hands of a more powerful legislature and aggressively pursued by tobacco lobbyists. While it was stopped this year I fully expect this issue to be pursued in the interim. Overall the 2023 Legislative Session turned out to pretty well for AHA priorities in Utah thanks to the hard work of staff, volunteers, and partners.
hero_image_alt_text===Utah Capitol Building
thumbnail_alt_text===Utah Capitol Building