Utah 2024 Legislative Session Recap

Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Utah’s legislative session ended on March 1, with lawmakers passing significant measures in healthcare, education, and the budget. Meanwhile, other proposals failed to clear both chambers and did not pass this year. Governor Spencer Cox now has 60 days to either sign approved bills into law, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature.

Key Healthcare Bills Heading to Governor Cox: 

Medicaid Assessment Expansion: HB 193 will extend the repeal dates for various Medicaid assessments and use the Medicaid Expansion Fund to cover Medicaid expenses for certain pregnant and postpartum women, along with mental/behavioral health services. It passed both the Senate and House on March 1.

Health Data Authority: HB 41 will adjust the membership of the Health Data Committee, transfer its duties to the Department of Health and Human Services, and change health data access requirements. The Senate passed this bill on March 1, weeks after it won House approval.

Behavioral Health Licensing: SB 26 proposes cutting the required training for a behavioral health clinician license in half – from 3,000 to 1,500 hours. It passed unanimously in both chambers.

Protected Health Information: HB 427 will impose a $200 fine on healthcare providers who fail to respond to requests for protected health information within 30 days, with fines going toward patients’ outstanding medical bills. It cleared the House last month, then passed the Senate on March 1.

Notable Bills That Did Not Pass This Year:

Post-Employment Restrictions: HB 305 proposed to nullify post-employment restrictive contracts if an employee is laid off or if the agreement involved a non-exempt employee. It was referred to several House committees but never made it to a floor vote. 

Telemedicine: HB 267 would have mandated that health plans reimburse telemedicine services at a minimum of 90% of in-person provider rates. However, it never made it out of committee.

Doula Services: SB 85 would have mandated Medicaid coverage for doula services. It passed the Senate in January but did not progress through the House.

Education and Budget Developments:

DEI in Education: Signed into law by Governor Cox, HB 261 eliminates diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs at state universities.

Education Funding: HB 1 allocates $19 million toward education initiatives in 2024, while HB 221 provides stipends to future educators with a $8.4 million appropriation. Both bills were approved by both chambers this year but have not been sent to the governor’s desk. Meanwhile, HB 287 would have established a $200 million scholarship program for educators to pursue advanced degrees, did not advance to a floor vote.

State Budget: Lawmakers approved a $29.4 billion budget, slightly less than Governor Cox’s initial proposal. Highlights include a 5% increase in per-pupil education spending, a doubling of the Utah Fits All Scholarship voucher program to nearly $40 million, and a 0.1% income tax cut, which is estimated to decrease tax revenue by $170 million.

The budget also includes $2.3 million for behavioral health internships, $4.1 million for Medicaid rate parity (for the Division of Child and Family Services and Juvenile Justice and Youth Services), and $1 million to boost Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes serving about 4,000 residents on Medicaid.

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