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Legislation to streamline Medicaid applications was unanimously endorsed by a committee on Thursday.

HB98 would permit the Utah Department of Health to explore letting some Medicaid recipients maintain their health benefits for a year, even if they experience a change in income or family status. Currently, clients must re-apply each month.

Doing so was pitched as a move to cut the costs of "churning" — people going on and off Medicaid rolls — and to improve access for low-income Utahns. It also is critical if, as proposed, hospital groups are going to be held financially responsible for patient outcomes under a plan to steer Medicaid patients into managed care groups known as Accountable Care Organizations, said Rep. Dean Sanpei, R-Provo.

"One of the problems we have with managing the Medicaid population is frequently providers don't know who the enrollees are until after they get sick and seek treatment," said Sanpei.

Advocates for the poor and the Utah Hospital Association back the measure, which heads now to the full House.

Kirsten Stewart