Town hall held for Utahns curious about Affordable Care Act
Health reform • Most Americans will be required to get coverage by 2014 or face a tax penalty.
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A panel of Utah health care advocates, experts and state policy leaders answered questions at a televised town hall Thursday about the Affordable Care Act, which requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance by 2014.

Those who do not have coverage, either through public programs such as Medicaid or through private insurance, will face a tax penalty.

Sponsored by KUTV Ch. 2 and The Salt Lake Tribune, the free town hall was hosted by KUTV's Rod Decker at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. It also aired live on KUTV.

You can watch a recorded version at sltrib.com or kutv.com.

The program aimed to help answer Utahns' questions about the health care reform law. Passed by Congress in 2010, the law allows for expanded Medicaid eligibility so more low-income citizens and legal residents can qualify.

Utah Republican lawmakers oppose expansion, so the state has not yet decided what it will do. A task force is studying expansion options and is expected to present Gov. Gary Herbert with alternatives in September. The town hall explored the mixed results of a Medicaid expansion in Oregon.

The ACA also sets up an online health insurance marketplace, sometimes called an exchange, where individuals and small businesses can shop for and purchase private insurance. Utah will have two exchanges — a federally-run marketplace for individual consumers and Avenue H, a state-run exchange for small businesses.

The exchanges open for enrollment on Oct. 1, and based on income, some Utahns will qualify for federal tax credits to help them buy insurance.

Under the law, business owners with 50 or more employees would also have to provide insurance or face a penalty. —

Got questions?

Do you have questions about how the Affordable Care Act will affect you? Email The Salt Lake Tribune at healthreform@sltrib.com and we'll try to address them in future reporting.