health care

Brian Grimmett

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed the existence of Enterovirus D68 in Utah.

Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake sent the CDC 22 samples, 12 of which came back positive. Doctor Andrew Pavia is Primary Children’s chief of pediatric infectious diseases. He says beyond the samples sent to the CDC they’ve seen several other cases they suspect are also due to some variant of the enterovirus.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray is one of 50 hospitals nationwide involved in a research trial for next-generation pacemakers.  Last month one of its doctors implanted the new, wireless device in a grandmother from Logan.

File: playathletics.com

Open enrollment in Utah’s Primary Care Network, or PCN, begins today for the first time since May of 2013. Kolbi Young of the Utah Department of Health says there are about 73,000 Utahns who are eligible for this type of care.

“The Primary Care Network program has been around for years and it’s a program that essentially covers a portion of the population that’s not typically eligible for Medicaid with very primary preventive services,” says Young.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and top officials at the White House were very receptive to his plan to help cover uninsured Utahns.

After his visit to Washington D.C. earlier in the week Governor Herbert says he’s confident that Secretary Sebelius will approve his Healthy Utah plan.

“As she said to me, I see nothing in your proposal, Governor, that would be a deal breaker.”

Andrea Smardon

Small business owners convened at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake on Tuesday to learn about the Affordable Care Act and significant changes coming in health care. The Salt Lake Chamber along with insurance company SelectHealth released a survey revealing that the Affordable Care Act is perceived negatively by a majority of businesses, but that many of those businesses are also uninformed about the requirements of the law.

Ask small business owners how they will be affected by the Affordable Care Act… and you get answers like this…

The Utah Department of Health has launched a new ad campaign for people who want to quit smoking. The effort focuses on people trying to kick the habit one day at a time.

The “Quitting For Real” campaign showcases television commercials that portray former smokers going through every day struggles as they fight the urge to light up again. Adam Bramwell of the Utah Department of Health says that after several failed attempts, many smokers get into the mindset that no matter what they do, they’ll never break their habit.  

The Salt Lake City School Board considers a tax increase, the Federal Government will now manage Utah’s high-risk health pool, and Utah’s congressional delegation feels confident about the future of Hill Air Force Base.

Utah strikes a deal to split responsibility with the federal government for its health exchange, the Unified Fire Authority puts a deputy chief on administrative leave for prescription fraud, and the Utah fire season arrives.

Utah considers walking away from a high risk insurance pool, the University of Utah considers stricter rules for skateboarders, and Dan Nailen shares why Salt Lake is in for night after night after night of good music.

Governor Herbert declares May “Clean Air Month,” Utah hospitals rank high in stroke treatment, and Kennecott Utah Copper begins laying off workers.

The Utah Department of Health announced that it will allow open enrollment for its health coverage plan known as Primary Care Network or PCN.  The plan is designed to provide low income people and families with preventative care options, but there are many services it does not cover.

PCN has been closed to enrollment since March 2012, but enough funding currently exists to allow for open enrollment over the next three to four weeks.  Kolbi Young is a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health.

Intermountain Health Care is fined more than $25 million dollars, Governor Herbert won’t be signing a water agreement with Nevada, and the USDA targets poverty in Southeast Utah.

The Utah Tourism Office launches a new ad campaign, Utah gets its first non-profit health insurance cooperative, and state agencies begin creating air quality improvement plans.

Andrea Smardon

A bill that would mandate insurance coverage of autism testing and treatment in Utah will advance to the floor of the state Senate.  The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved the bill 5-2 Thursday, despite lawmakers concerns that the bill would not only cost taxpayer money, but would also drive up health insurance premiums. 

University Health Care

  The Utah Senate is ready to spend ten million dollars to expand the number of medical students at the University of Utah.  Senate Bill 42 would let the University of Utah medical school add 40 slots for new students -- with the condition that the new applicants have a significant connection to Utah.  The bill has bipartisan support.  Democrat Luz Robles argued the shortage of doctors is worse in rural parts of the state.

The St. George community gets its first look at possible new names for Dixie State College, the Governor recognizes state agencies that participated in his “Choose Health Challenge”, and police continue their search for a missing Herriman teen.

Federal officials have given preliminary approval for Utah to run its own health insurance exchange marketplace, but some state lawmakers say they don’t want to run the exchange under the feds’ rules. 

Earlier this week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Utah officials that the state’s Avenue H exchange could be approved by the federal government if it meets certain requirements by October.  Republican Representative Jim Dunnigan is chair of Utah’s Health System Reform Task Force.  He says the feds are not giving Utah the flexibility that it requested.

The federal government has conditionally approved Utah’s health insurance exchange known as Avenue H.  But the feds say more work needs to be done for the state-based exchange to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act. 

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius praised Utah for making "significant progress" with its online insurance marketplace.  She says she’s confident Avenue H will be federally compliant by the deadline of October this year.  In a conference call, federal health administrator Gary Cohen essentially put the ball in Utah’s court.

The state’s Health System Reform Task Force had its final meeting Monday before the legislative session, but questions remain about health reform  - in particular, who will run Utah’s health insurance exchange.

Governor Gary Herbert sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday morning asking the federal government to let Utah keep Avenue H, the state’s health insurance exchange, without making changes to it. 

The Salt Lake Chamber is trying to help Utah businesses rein in their healthcare costs.  They released their online guide Thursday called an Employer’s Tool Box.

Rich McKeown is chair of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Health Reform task force.   He told KUER the Employer’s Tool Box helps businesses exercise some degree of control over healthcare costs. 

Brian Grimmett

There was little agreement between the panelists at a debate Wednesday night at the University of Utah over lawmakers’ recent decision to increase the state’s abortion waiting period.

KUER News Pod: Tuesday November 20, 2012

Nov 20, 2012

Governor Herbert sends a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the “Tar Sands Monster” pays a visit to downtown Salt Lake City, and the Utah State Board of Regents OK’s a policy change that could increase college tuition for those who drag their feet.

Governor Gary Herbert sent a letter Monday morning to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The letter declares the Governor’s intentions to continue to pursue Utah’s state-based health insurance exchange – known as Avenue H, rather than a federally-designed exchange.  But the letter also says that this decision could change as the state receives more information. 

Enclosed with Governor Gary Herbert’s letter is a list of top ten unanswered questions about federal exchanges. 

Governor Gary Herbert plans to send a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services Friday declaring the state’s intentions on its health insurance exchange. Up until now, the Governor’s Office has not said whether the state will update its existing exchange, Avenue H, to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act - or let the feds create their own exchange in the state. But Utah’s Health Reform Implementation Coordinator Norman Thurston says the letter doesn’t commit the state to anything.

KUER News Pod: Thursday November 15, 2012

Nov 15, 2012

The state Legislature discusses a proposal to fix the state’s data security issues, the governor’s public lands policy coordinator says a lot more study needs to be done before taking over federal lands, and Salt Lake City conducts a community food assessment.

The state Health and Human Services interim committee unanimously supported draft legislation Wednesday aimed at fixing problems related to the state’s Medicaid data breach that left more than 800 thousand Utahn’s personal information vulnerable.

Andrea Smardon

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray turned five years old Monday, and some of the hospital’s smallest and very first patients were there to celebrate. 

First in line for birthday cake were triplets Natalia, Connor, and Janessa Nagel.  They were also the first patients transferred by Life Flight to the newborn ICU on October 29, 2007, the morning Intermountain Medical Center opened its doors.  Hospital Administrator David Grauer said he remembers the moment well.

The Affordable Care Act promises to extend the reach of health care coverage to many people who don’t have it now.  Critics say it will do that at a huge cost in both money and individual liberty.  But the mandate in the law for nearly everyone to buy health insurance has been upheld by the U-S Supreme Court and that requirement will take effect in 2014.  The question facing Utah and the rest of country is how to implement the provisions that are maintained by the states.

Utah’s Health Exchange has a new name, along with a new website.  State leaders say they want to distance themselves from the Affordable Care Act.  Starting Thursday, the program which connects small businesses with health insurance carriers will be called Avenue H. 

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