Medicaid and federal flexibility are big topics for Gov. Herbert

FILE PHOTO - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, with the executive committee of the National Governors Association, speaks to the media after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said he is pleased that Republicans want to make sure those people most vulnerable have access to quality health care. But in his <a href=”http://610kvnu.com/assets/podcaster/324/2014_02_20_324_19231_2867.mp3″ target=”_blank”>monthly news conference Wednesday heard on KVNU and radio stations throughout Utah,</a> Herbert questioned the proposal by House members.

Their proposal is to take federal dollars to provide Medicaid coverage for 54,000 Utahns living below the poverty line.

“We’re in the process of analysis and seeing what the ramifications of that proposal would be. I’m a little concerned, as I see,” Herbert said, “that they want to in fact not take any federal money, which is our money just coming back from the federal government, it just comes from our pockets, our tax payers.

“And consequently they are going to ask our tax payers to pay more money, an additional $35 million. It costs us more money and at the end of the day we serve fewer people.”

But he said his office is in the process of analysis to see just what the ramifications of that proposal would be.

Herbert will soon be off to Washington, DC and he expects to have a chance to talk to President Barack Obama. He said he plans to talk to the President about state flexibility.

“We have a need as states, and Utah is not unique in this,” Herbert explained. “Just block grant us the money. We’re pretty smart people here.

“It’s our money coming back to us. We ought to have the ability to have flexibility to put it where we want to accomplish and solve the problem.”

Herbert said Utah, and many other states feel the same, want their tax money back without having to go through all the hoops to make it work.

“The strings and the red tape hurt us and make us less efficient. So it is going to be about maximum flexibility of the programs we share responsibility with the federal government.”

The governor concluded his press conference by saying that he has enjoyed watching the Olympics when he has time and is proud of the job Utah’s athletes are doing.

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