HEALTH CARE
2018 Concern
Updated July 2022

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McKay Dee Hospital emergency room.  January 20, 2022.

BEING SMART AND FORWARD LOOKING WITH COVID-19

 

[Statement from my March-August 2022 Campaign Flyer]

I am committed to amending Utah COVID-19 laws acceptable to a sizeable majority of residents in Utah House District 13.  Our amended laws need to be:

 

  • based on “verifiable” peer-reviewed scientific studies,

  • use reasonable, practical, and easily understood criteria or metrics that will protect the health of all residents,

  • preserve our freedoms to the greatest extent feasible,

  • be consistent with other acceptable health and safety laws, and 

  • resolve disputes not by a distant, authoritarian State Legislature but through our independent, impartial state courts where all sides have an opportunity to present their arguments devoid of politics.

What Important COVID-19 Ideas Are Missing

From Our Policy Discussions?

New July 2022

Both our Federal and State governments and our news media are failing in their efforts to address COVID-19 adequately.  While a million Americans have died from COVID-19, most Americans still do not really know the most important facts about these deaths, COVID-19 infections, and hospitalizations.  The controversy over vaccine and mask mandates has not been resolved.

  • We still do not know how many people have suffered because of the lack of being vaccinated or wearing masks or suffered because of the adverse effects of taking COVID-19 vaccines that a significant number of residents have reported to me. 

  • We do not know how COVID-19 infections are being transmitted in terms of from vaccinated or unvaccinated persons, and in what places or venues (with or without restrictions).

  • There is little information being reported on how long-haulers are doing or the impact on their families and on our economy and what our Government is going to do with those people continuing to suffer from COVID-19 over the long term. 

  • We do not know the impact on people who needed hospital and emergency services who were unable to access critical medical services because people with COVID-19 were taking up intensive care units or surgical rooms.

  • There still is very little information being provided to the public on the actual effectiveness of wearing a mask and the different efficacies (reliability) of different masks (three-ply, medical, and N-95) and by different age groups (especially school-age students).

Our current state legislators have let all of us down even as they make state-wide COVID-19 decisions without taking into account the unique differences between Utah counties and they appear to disregard science and their own medical scientists.  As your state legislator, I will be smart and work hard to ensure that the public is provided with authenticated and practical COVID-19 data that will help you make the best-informed decisions that you can actually use regarding masks and vaccines.  I will insist on the medical information about COVID-19 that really matters and that has been peer-reviewed and tested in the arena of scientific debate.

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Davis Behavioral Health, Kaysville.  June 10, 2021.  The waitlist was about one month to see a therapist.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ARE BEING ILLEGALLY DENIED TO CONSUMERS

New July 2022

THE PROBLEM

Even after 12 years of the passage of the Affordable Care Act that extended mental health parity to individuals and some small group plans, the lack of government enforcement and resistance from insurance companies have allowed illegal unfair pricing practices and limited access to urgent mental health services to consumers on par with physical health services.  The Washington Post reported that providers receive 23.8 percent higher reimbursement for primary medical care than for behavioral care.  With the increasing and oftentimes desperate need for mental health services in light of the increase of mass shootings (Fox News, May 16, 2022), access to these services are more crucial now than ever before.

THE SOLUTION

Our state government must take vigorous action to make sure that the law of our land is upheld and that residents have equitable access to essential mental health services just as they do with their primary medical care.  Depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are better addressed through mental health services than just prescribing more and more costly drugs.

If elected, I will work vigorously with local prosecutors and the Attorney General Office as well as insurance providers, mental health practitioners, and institutions of higher education to ensure that all legal and educational efforts are made to increase the access to and lower the cost of mental health services to our community residents that they are legally entitled to.

LIVING IN A PRO-LIFE SOCIETY

June 2022

Roe v. Wade is likely to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court and give back the authority to oversee abortion policy to the individual states.  Abortion instead of becoming less of a political and moral issue will likely now be front and center in the upcoming 2023 Utah State Legislature.  Utah House District 13 needs to be prepared for this huge change to pro-life.

 

THE PROBLEM

 

Senate Bill 174 passed by the Utah State Legislature in 2020 created a trigger law that will go into effect as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.  In realistic terms, it is unlikely that this pro-life law will be repealed, anytime soon, and it will restrict abortion from conception with exceptions for

 

  • rape,

  • incest,

  • danger to the life of the mother, or

  • gross abnormalities of the fetus

 

but only to the extent that medical providers can be criminally charged with a felony if they perform an abortion.  The law does not prohibit Utah pregnant women from getting an abortion either self-induced or going out of state.

How a pro-life society will look like in Utah depends on how Utahns really approach pro-life issues surrounding the unborn and the mother who apparently for whatever reason does not want her unborn fetus.  How far should government get involved in a pro-life society?

THE SOLUTION

If elected, I will hold a number of town hall meetings throughout House District 13 during November, December, and early January with the possible use of a facilitator, now a bioethics professor, from the University of Utah (whom I took undergraduate classes from during the 1970s) to obtain a resident consensus on the following talking points and approaches to addressing abortion in a pro-life era.  I am neither endorsing nor opposing any of the talking points below.  Instead, I am introducing them so that our community can hold a respectful dialogue on an important social and moral issue:

  • How serious a crime would be warranted for black-market, underground unlicensed Utah abortion providers that likely place both the mother and her unborn at risk?  S.B. 174 does not address this situation for non-medical providers.  Should a special state abortion unit be created to receive reports and monitor illicit abortion activities? 

  • If the abortion ban exemptions for rape and incest were to be repealed by the Utah State Legislature, what responsibility should a rapist or incestuous father be required to provide to the unborn and post-delivery child, if any?

  • What responsibility should the future estate of an unborn have for the compensation of the death of its mother during pregnancy, if any? 

  • Should a mother having an abortion be charged with a crime, if so should it be a misdemeanor or felony?  Should there be a fine and, if so, how much?  Should there be a jail term, if so how long?  This action would deter women who can afford to get an abortion by traveling out of state.  Will we need to have border inspections at our airports and state lines of pregnant women going out of state to obtain abortions?  Or should all medical doctors be required to report a pregnancy diagnosis and later submit a birth certificate to a state database?  Should businesses selling pregnancy tests be required to obtain the personal information of the buyer and report such purchases to the state?

  • Should parents of a pregnant woman, the biological father, or other accomplices helping with an abortion be criminally charged?

  • Should there be Increased availability of sex education classes for young girls and boys (with or without parental consent), especially where their parents do not, cannot, or will not provide such education themselves?

  • Can we increase contraception availability and pre-natal and post-natal planning?  Encouraging pregnancy testing as soon as feasible after sex to determine if aid for prenatal care and baby disposition arrangements will be necessary?

  • Do we provide free confidential pregnancy testing and counseling for any female after beginning menstruation who wants one?

  • Who is responsible for the cost of prenatal care for unwanted babies, especially where mothers do not have the income nor interest in affording quality care?  To what extent should the biological father be forced to help and to what extent?  If such mothers and fathers are negligent should they be charged with fetal abuse and face jail time?  What happens to the unborn in the meantime?

  • What does society want to do with the unwanted babies once they are born?  Who is responsible?

  • Should mothers of unwanted unborn fetuses be eligible for paid family leave for absences during their pregnancy from work or school, when medically necessary, and, if so, how would it be paid? 

  • Would women who want an abortion but are unable to obtain one be eligible for special services under Section 504 or Americans with Disability Act (ADA) so they can continue to receive an education or go to work with disability accommodations?

  • Is it appropriate to provide state financial assistance for pregnant women (who wanted to have an abortion) to receive medical care, prenatal care, delivery costs, and counseling and using such a program as a model policy for insurance companies to adopt to help with unwanted pregnancies?

  • What about developing a state-wide network to connect couples who want a child but cannot conceive a baby with those mothers who do not want them and arrange for no-cost or low-cost legal arrangements and counseling, including the development of governmental and private insurance coverage?

  • Could we allow for embryo transplants to willing female recipients and seek changes in insurance policy coverage?

  • Should we ban the possible black market, profit-making baby industry, making it a crime to pay for prenatal care, delivery, and selling of babies of mothers to other people who want children.

  • How should we regulate for-profit businesses or non-profit businesses that provide assistance to unwed mothers who need to carry their unborn child to term, delivery, and arrange for the legal transfer of a baby as compassionately as possible to a new parent?  

There are no easy answers.  However, what must be done is coming up with a healing, compassionate process that will address the real practical matters dealing with a pro-life paradigm shift in Utah.  Just saying "no" to "pro-life" will not work in Utah.  The time for debate and talk about a right to an abortion is likely over in Utah for now.  Instead Utahns and pregnant women will require "real practical" solutions in a pro-life society that will directly impact their lives for the better!

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Mothers and their Baby
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Moms and Babies

2020 General Election Health Care I Video

Most of us, but not all of us, have survived through the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic without "lengthy" draconian mask or vaccine mandates.  However, many Utah families have suffered nearly 5,000 COVID-19 deaths or continue to suffer as long-haulers.  The recent waste of Utah tax dollars must not be repeated.  We need a state representative who will speak out against the waste of taxpayer funds directed towards faulty COVID-19 testing and that makes it impossible for legislators to make sound policy decisions with regards to this vicious coronavirus.  "State extends TestUtah contract despite lab violations in federal audit,"  Salt Lake Tribune (June 12, 2020).  Utahns need a sound and well-developed COVID-19 policy to address future variants so we do not have to go through the chaos and confusion of the past several years.

 

Health care is something that every human being has a right to by:

 

  • Lowering health care costs through expanding affordable health care to every resident

  • Reducing the cost of prescription medication

 

We can no longer rely or depend on the federal government being able to help or step in when health care crises arise.  Now more than ever before, our State must continue to be in a leadership position to provide the crucial health care services in a responsible way for our residents now and into the future.

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THE PROBLEM

 

Access to health care is more than a matter of convenience or buying a luxury item, it is an essential human need.  Health insurance premiums have risen by 30 percent in the past decade according the Utah Foundation (Rising premium costs getting 'really scary' for Utah small business," Deseret News, April 29, 2018) often with high deductibles easily adding more than $3,000 to a family’s medical expenses per year.  My wife and I personally experience how this year (2020), we are expected to pay an additional $1,600 more this year until I reach my maximum out-of-pocket medical expenses at which point my wife's generous utility company retirement program will pay 100%.  I fret over how other families with less generous insurance will fare.  Now as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, even worse news may just been around the corner as one estimate projects our health insurance premiums may "sky rocket" as insurances companies incur billions of additional costs as people require extensive more medical care as a result of the Corona Virus.  "Health insurance premiums could skyrocket: analysis," The Hill (March 29, 2020).

In May 2020, I tried to get tested for coronas virus, but without symptoms I couldn't get tested, except for one service that offered screening for $79.99 located in Bluffdale, Utah located 50 miles away.  As your State Legislator, I will push to make free COVID-19 testing "available" to all residents.  "CDC Director On Models For The Months To Come: 'This Virus Is Going To Be With Us,'" National Public Radio (March 31, 2020).  It doesn't make sense for us to fall prey to innocent people who feel fine, but are unsuspecting carriers of this vicious virus.  We must do more to protect our communities and our loved ones as we open up our communities and businesses potentially exposing thousands of people to this contagion.

Health Care Video Video Part II

2020 General Election Health Care II Video

THE SOLUTIONS

[1] EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS AND DESERVES AN OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE

As a former clinical social worker, my first and utmost moral obligation will be the well-being and self-determination of the public.  As your state representative, I would work tirelessly to ensure that your health as well as your well-being and freedom of choice are of paramount importance.  Without your well-being, no matter how thriving our economy becomes, your choices become very limited and your life will have diminished meaning.  Pandemics place an entire community and everybody who lives in one at serious risk.  I will not play Russian roulette with your lives and liberties.

I want to continued to thank and commend the residents of Davis County who have patiently sacrificed waiting for this terrible Pandemic to slowly dissipate.  It has taken great faith to persevere so that our essential hospitals and first responders were not overcome by thousands of patients and were able to provide the intensive treatment and precious medical equipment needed to save hundreds of lives.  We will make it through this ordeal if we work together and keep our minds focused, united against this enemy. 

[2] LOWER HEALTH CARE COSTS.   

We can cut health care cost by by maintaining and expanding "affordable" health care insurance.  Our State needs to expand “affordable” health care insurance to everyone, including the middle- and upper middle-class residents.  When a middle-class business woman with a family of five who lives in our Utah House District has to pay more in monthly health insurance premiums than her monthly house payment (I talk to this mother back in 2018), something is terribly wrong with our health care system.  We can reduce health care costs and insurance premiums for everyone through "preventive" medical care and "earlier" medical treatment.  Too many families without insurance cannot pay for routine dental and medical checkups, routine diabetic and cancer screenings. The cost of denying basic health care results in residents in our community forced to go to emergency rooms repeatedly to deal with serious or life-threatening illnesses (that never actually get managed) amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in specialized medical treatment that we all end up paying for. 

When we allow our neighbors to get sick without access to affordable health care what happens?  Let's recap:

  • Children go to school sick making other students sick or they stay home longer and fall further and further behind in school;

  • Parents get sick and can't take care of their children;

  • Businesses suffer as more and more of their employees get sick and still continue to work even though they are sick and infect others or don't get to work, decreasing business productivity and profits, increasing the cost for goods and services for the rest of us;

  • Employees become susceptible to being fired or laid off because they can't get well or have to take more time off work;

  • Families get more stressed as tempers flare as people begin to feel just plain lousy and marriages become threatened with disorder and dissolution.  "Salt Lake police report 'dramatic uptick' in domestic violence," Deseret News (March 24, 2020).

  • The price of health care goes up for all of us as more and more people seek health services, especially those who can't afford preventative health care, service they can ill-afford to pay at our emergency rooms and urgent care medical clinics.

We can no longer afford people waiting until they are dead instead of receiving earlier medical care at a far less cost.

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Contract Review

Reduce the amount of wasteful bureaucratic paperwork. 

Our health “Administrative expenses…account for 20 percent to 25 percent of U.S. health care expenditures” twice that of Canada according to "Sick of Confusing Medical Bills," Consumer Reports (September 2018).  Many of these costs are passed onto us by health providers and insurance companies.  Our health care system is broken.  Utah health care needs a more manageable payer system that could save tens of millions of dollars in administrative costs for taxpayers (“Hidden From View: The Astonishingly High Costs of U.S. Health Care,” The New York Times, July 10, 2018).  I will call for a health care summit of consumers, providers and government officials to simplify and consolidate the mountains of complicated insurance forms and paperwork.

Promote comprehensive in-home patient services.  I will work to re-direct state funds to community organizations that partner with other agencies to provide in-home health care and social services.  By working with the whole family in the home using a team of volunteers, registered nurses, physical therapists, and social workers, our tax dollars can go further and reduce overhead costs.  By helping care-givers with relief, our tax dollars can help our neighbors take care of their aging parents or sick-ones longer and better without higher public expenses. 

 

Lower the high cost of prescriptions. 

 

  • Continue to vigorously move ahead with my 2018 proposal to diminish the role that Pharmacy Benefit Managers have to artificially boosting the cost of prescriptions.  Utah needs to work collaboratively with other states and our major health care providers to directly negotiate with drug companies cutting out the exorbitant cost of intermediary powerbrokers to reduce the excessive cost of prescription drugs.  Continue with and adopt our former State Representative's two-year effort including Utah House Bill 272 (2020) to cut out the middleman.  ("Lawmakers introduce bills to drive down cost of prescription drugs, " Davis Clipper, February 13, 2020).   Utah has already started reducing drug costs with deep discounts for insulin users began last month, "Break on insulin costs coming sooner than expected for Utahns as program starts June 1," Deseret News (May 25, 2020), but our State needs to continue moving aggressively to make other life-saving drugs affordable to Utahns.

  • Provide informative brochures informing customers of their right to ask pharmacists about alternative “lower-cost” medications without insurance.  One study reported that out of 9.5 million claims submitted that in 23% of the cases that people could have saved money if they had not used their insurance but just paid cash or used a credit card for their prescription ("Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses,' The Hill, May 23, 2018).  But the pharmacy industry lobbied and had Congress pass into law a Gag Order to help keep their profits.  Utah needs to offer more options to residents to obtain cheaper medically safe drugs even if from out of the United States.  We will no longer be held hostage to the bloated health care system.