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At the request of the federal government, Utah is taking additional comments on its plan to extend Medicaid coverage to 9,000 to 11,000 more Utahns.

State officials sent their proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this month after holding a public comment period that garnered more than 130 remarks.

But the CMS recently asked Utah to give the public the opportunity to comment on the budgetary portion of the proposal, said Kolbi Young, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. Young added that this is a "technicality" because that portion was not available when Utah's comment period ended.

The CMS will need to hold its own public comment period on the proposal, which will happen after the state's comment period ends Aug. 15.

State officials, however, do not anticipate this re-opened comment period to slow the process.

Initially estimated to expand coverage to about 16,000 more people, the current proposal would cover about 9,000 to 11,000 more of the poorest Utahns. Between July 2014 and June 2015, 415,843 Utahns qualified for Medicaid coverage, the Utah Department of Health reported.

The plan targets childless adults who are chronically homeless, going through the justice system or in need of mental-health or substance-abuse treatment. It also would expand coverage to low-income parents with dependent children previously not covered by Medicaid.

Federal officials previously told the state they've never approved a plan with targeted populations like this one.

Health officials hope to begin enrolling individuals Jan. 1, 2017, but they have admitted that timeline is optimistic, given that the feds usually take eight to nine months to look at proposals after receiving them.

Young says this additional comment period "will not delay the overall timeline because we will continue negotiations with CMS officials throughout both public comment periods."

The proposal is available at the Health Department's website. People can submit comments there or by emailing

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