Utah Caves on Health Exchange Rules

The state had wanted to do things its own way


For months now, Utah has put the White House in a sticky spot on Obamacare.

Unlike most Republican-governed states, Utah has been eager to run a health insurance exchange.  In fact, it already has one: When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Utah was one of two states running a marketplace where consumers could compare and purchase coverage (Massachusetts was the other).

Unlike most Democratic-governed states, though, Utah did not want to set up the kind of exchange that that the health-care law envisioned. The state has favored a bare-bones approach: It only sells to small businesses and covers 7,646 Utah residents. Where some states are hiring dozens of staff, the Utah exchange, known as Avenue H, usually has two or three employees. It does not interface with the state's Medicaid program like the federal law envisions, nor does it provide expansive consumer assistance services.