Sunday, May 28, 2006

Politics As Usual?

This past week, Utah's partisan legislature failed to fund $2,000,000 in Medicaid dental services for Utah's most needy - the disabled, blind and elderly, instead choosing to allocate $15,000,000 for a parking structure. Even though Governor Huntsman found the necessary funding in the *already existing* health department budget, partisan infighting and power struggles resulted in arrogance and a lack of character to do the right thing. It serves clear notice that Utah needs change, or the future will only bring more of the same.

It is frustrating to know that in this time of plenty, when the state of Utah had surpluses in excess of $1 billion that we won’t take care of the neediest in our community. The Republican Legislature's failure to vote on basic health care for the poorest among us sorely disappointed the citizens of Utah. Providing the extra Medicaid funds is the right and moral thing to do.

Governor Huntsman did the right thing by putting the item on the special session Call and was able to find the funds within the current Health Department budget. But on party line votes — Republicans opposing the spending, Democrats for it — the $2 million bill was defeated without even letting it be voted on the floor of either chamber.

The Republican infighting was about politics, not serving the interest of our people. We need legislators who stand up for Utah and not their own political interests. Not only was their action a failure on humanitarian grounds, it was a return to backroom deal-making and the lack of courage to allow a floor debate.

I do not subscribe to "petty partisan politics" and will always stand on principle, pledging to always do the right thing for Utah's families.


At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our Utah legislature had a beautiful opportunity to show us that families in Utah really do matter. But instead of providing the necessary $2mil to fund dental benefits for the neediest among us (Utah's disabled, blind & elderly), they chose instead to approve $15mil for a parking structure. Our own St. George Rep. Urquart defended the action by saying that the governor is naive and should know better, and should have worked harder to fight for the people that this would help. Huh? The governor should have worked harder to fight for the needy? When is Mr. Urquart and the rest of our partisan legislature going to do right by Utah's families? They were elected to represent all of us - the priviledged *and* the impoverished. The proposed money to fund this necessary program is *already* available. While it may have taken some extra work to move things around in the budget, this is what the legislature has been hired by the people to do... do the hard work and do right by everyone. By refusing to even discuss this budget item and not allowing it out of chambers, the Utah legislature has proven once again that it likes to talk about family values, but falls short when it comes to valuing families.

At 12:53 AM, Blogger Emily For Utah Senate 28 said...

Good idea: preventative maintenance.

For every $1 we spend on Medicaid, Congress sends back approximatly $3 of OUR federal tax dollars to pay for the services. When we cut our Medicaid healthcare programs, the Medicaid recipients then go to emergency rooms, jails, etc. for healthcare services. We end up paying 100% of the costs and the costs are mulitplied 5 to 10 times what it would have cost to provide the service in the first place.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger DemDiva said...

*HUBRIS*. Hey Republicans, look it up.

Wouldn't it have been beautiful if the legislature would have not only provided the two million for dental benefits for the needy and then provided free bus passes for those of us who want to "see what's going on" at the Legislature. What a statement this would have made for concern for our environment as well!

Oh, and I gotta say it again, get those workmen to park in a parking lot and take a shuttle in the morning. That would provide LOTS of parking which already exists.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For governors’ proposed fiscal 2005 budgets, states estimated growth rates of 12.1 percent in state funds and 3.9 percent in federal funds. The large variance in rates of growth for the federal and state shares are attributable to the temporary increase of 2.95 percent in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) that was in effect from April 2003 through June 2004 as part of state fiscal relief.

Even with extensive cost containment efforts and the federal fiscal relief, states’ Medicaid expenditures have exceeded the amounts originally budgeted for the program. Twenty-three states experienced Medicaid shortfalls in fiscal 2003 and 18 states anticipated shortfalls in fiscal 2004.The shortfalls as a percentage of the total Medicaid program in fiscal 2003 ranged from less than 1 percent to 16.4 percent of the program costs, averaging 4.6 percent. The combined amount of the shortfalls in fiscal 2003 and fiscal 2004 totaled nearly $7 billion.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easy for Emily to say that she would have funded the program. You decry politics as usual but pandering is the worst type of politics as usual.

Governing is difficult. Medicaid is growing at astronomical rates and this comes in a time of robust economic growth. The Legislature created an interim committee to study Medicaid; let's give them the opportunity to analyze the program and govern without silly partisan jabs or politics as usual.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when did doing the right thing become "pandering?" What does this interim committee need to study? Do they actually need an official report to learn how much and how long the blind, disabled and elderly can actually suffer before having a root canal? Nice try, anonymous. While you are giving a detailed attempt to blur human suffering with beaurocratic detail, what is painfully obvious to everyone else is that it is the right thing to help the *most vulnerable* citizens of our state.

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another thought. To all of you who are complaining about $2,000,000 for dental care for the *poor* people, why aren't you complaining about $85,000,000,000 to Iraq??

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Emily For Utah Senate 28 said...

Sorry, anonymous - this sorely IS about "politics as usual" - the GOP legislature was trying to show the governor *who* is boss. I still maintain that the *right* thing to do would have been to provide the funding, or at least bring it to the floor for a debate.

But what is really too bad is that this whole discussion is not so much about helping people, but about siding with a particular political idealogy. I agree with Governor Huntsman, who said "This is what's right for people in our state who are suffering right now."

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emily and Anonymous--

First, this issue was fully debated and vetted during the General Session and it was determined that this was not the highest priority for funding by the Health and Human Services appropriation committee.

Second, do you realize that the State of Utah spent over 40 million dollars this year on Medcaid federal fund cuts and inflation costs. That was money needed just this year to maintain the current levels of Medicaid.

Furthermore, the Health Department was allocated money for dental during the 2005 General Session. The Health Department did not have a need for all of those funds in FY 06 and these were the monies they proposed using for FY 07. If this is such a critical need then why isn't all of the money being spent? Could it be that even the Health Department doesn't have a very good understanding of what's needed--that's the reason a study is needed.

The facts are not as black and white as you make them out to be.

BTW, If the Governor is so concerned with emergency dental then why doesn't he direct the Health Department to fund Medicaid Dental services within the existing line item as he has the power to do??

At 10:44 PM, Blogger Emily For Utah Senate 28 said...

Hi anonymous,

Thank you for your comments. I am fully aware of the debate that existed over the DHS budget during this past legislative session.

But regardless of those details, during the special session the legislature still voted to fund a parking structure and in the same breath decided NOT to vote on this important medicaid funding.

My contention remains: the legislature chose politics over people. Obviously many people in this state feel strongly about this, and at the very very least, the legislature could have brought it to the floor for a debate. It just seems insensitive that they did not *at least* do that.

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Emily For Utah Senate 28 said...

Another thought. The legislature *could have* opted to increase or decrease the $2 million recommended by Governor Huntsman. If the DHS didn't spend it all last year, then the legislature could have asked for a compromise. Why didn't the legislature ask for a compromise?

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Emily, your right on target. Stay on message and remember that every Democratic legislator and those running are with you on this issue.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger I'mForChange said...

I couldn't agree more with Emily. Given the number of editorial letters in both newspapers over the past week, I see that a number of Utahan's are/were upset by this. This is just one more issue (in the seemingly endless supply of issues) that sends the strong message to the voting public. CHANGE or more of the same. Having an individual like Emily in the legislature will be a breath of fresh (and responsible) air.



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