Letters to the Editor, April 9-12, 2016
Medicaid critic can’t get the facts straight
It is irrational to consider the Medicaid discussion from this legislative session a step in the right direction. Craig Paulson gives far too much credit to Rep. James Dunnigan (R-Taylorsville) for "beginning" the conversation, and Paulson also makes the embarrassing mistake of calling the conversation one surrounding "Medicare." This mistake highlights his distance from the situation, seeing as he does not seem to know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Can one really comment accurately on the issue when they do not feel the effects or seem to understand the plight of those affected?
While Craig Paulson is correct to point out that roughly 16,000 people are now covered under Medicaid, he fails to mention that tens of thousands of Utahns have still been left without access to affordable healthcare. This includes thousands who fall below the federal poverty line — a situation Paulson calls "a tragedy." He may "feel bad" for these people, but how compassionate can one be for the working poor while allowing for a meager compromise of Medicaid expansion?
Describing Dunnigan’s law as "fiscally responsible" is misleading and disingenuous. Dunnigan’s law costs more per person than fully expanded Medicaid. The missed opportunity to expand Medicaid is not fiscally conservative — it is fiscally irresponsible.
The reality of Dunnigan’s bill is that it is a Bandaid solution, an opportunity for the Legislature to claim they have taken action on Medicaid expansion while still appealing to the more conservative and Tea Party rhetoric of hating Obamacare. We still have a long way to go, because Paulson is right. It is a tragedy that we still have so many people barely making ends meet, one emergency room visit from bankruptcy, without access to affordable care.
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Support for Governor Herbert’s early-intervention veto
I’m writing in appreciation for Governor Gary Herbert’s and the 2016 Legislature’s efforts to provide Utah’s students with an increase in funding for preschool programs. I’m also writing to express concern for how early intervention designated dollars are being spent.
High quality preschool programs make a difference for our kids. Except for when they don’t, or aren’t as high quality as we were led to believe. The Utah State Office of Education contracted with ETI, a third-party evaluator which discovered some of the early grades reading software programs are actually having a slight negative effect on student learning outcomes.
Governor Herbert wisely vetoed the line items in the 2016 public education budget bill that provided additional funding to programs that already receive ongoing and one-time funding in order to further evaluate them for possible redundancy and waste of taxpayer dollars.
Senator Howard Stephenson, the legislative champion of online and digital learning programs in Utah has called for a veto-override session. As long as there are questions regarding the quality of these types of early intervention programs, I urge taxpayers to contact their legislators and ask them to not support a veto override session. Ask how much a veto override session costs taxpayers while you’re at it!
These programs will be reevaluated, the money will remain with public education for the next fiscal year, and the programs will remain in place (and funded), just not expanded until results from the third-party evaluator, not the vendor’s own results, prove to be worth spending more tax dollars.
Please contact your legislators, http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp and ask them to support Governor Herbert’s early-intervention veto. Request that they will not agree to a veto-override session and please allow for prudent distribution of our precious public education tax dollars.
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Injured skier says thanks to rescuers
On Feb. 23, my second day of skiing, I fell at Canyons shattering my upper humerus. I wish to thank the teams of ski patrol who cared for me, skillfully evaluating my injury, securing me to avoid further injury and getting me safely down the mountain. They are to be commended for their efficiency and compassion. Their names are unknown but I hope they read this and know someone appreciates them.
Park City visitor
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Park City senior citizens argue in a guest editorial that they should be allowed to remain in the Senior Center on Woodside Avenue until the city provides an acceptable permanent facility.