SALT LAKE CITY -- Requiring community service from those who receive Medicaid could be a pilot program involving fewer than 100 participants, said Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove.
Menlove, R-Garland, is sponsoring House Bill 211, which was passed Monday with a vote of 4-2 by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It now goes before the Senate floor for further consideration.
"This is a pilot bill, it's not mandating," Menlove said to the committee. "This is creating a pilot program."
Menlove said the reason behind the bill is that, "Medicaid is a growing portion of our budget. We are looking at various options to address the growth in this budget."
It would allow the state Department of Health to create a pilot program after seeking a waiver from the federal government. Menlove said those with disabilities, with children or other issues would not be eligible for the program.
Those who would be asked to participate in the program would be between the ages of 19 and 64 and unemployed, Menlove said.
Results from the pilot program would be reviewed after it has been in place for two years to see if the program works, Menlove said.
"I see several hiccups in with this. The waiver has a big question, but I support the idea," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.
Christensen said one of the difficulties would be if a person does agree to do community service, then gets a job that could prevent them from completing their community service.
Sheila Walsh-McDonald, a health care advocate with Salt Lake Community Action Program, said the Medicaid program being targeted was started a few years ago to improve the health status of those who were uninsured.
Most Utahns who are in the program are families that are working and already volunteering, Walsh-McDonald said.