Health Care | KUER 90.1

Health Care

State to Investigate Infant Mortality in Uintah County

May 7, 2014
Andrea Smardon

A midwife in Vernal has brought attention to what she believes is an unusually high rate of infant mortality in Uintah County. She and some environmental activists believe the newborn deaths may be connected to pollution from oil and gas drilling in the area. State and local health officials are holding a public meeting Wednesday evening to discuss a possible study of the issue.

A children’s autism treatment program is accepting new applicants. The Utah Department of Health’s Medicaid Autism Waiver program is open for enrollment. There are 35 openings.

A new report shows Utah ranks among the worst states in the nation for access and affordability to health care. The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC, released its Scorecard on State Health System Performance this week.

Leftover Prescription Meds Pose Hazards to Utahns

Apr 25, 2014

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in Utah and around the country. But Utahns can reduce the risk of overdose deaths and help protect the environment by disposing of those unused medications Saturday during National Take-Back Day.

U Apologizes to Family for Sperm Mix-Up

Apr 25, 2014
Salt Lake County

The University of Utah announced Thursday the findings of an investigation into allegations of sperm donation tampering by a former lab employee. Texas couple John and Pamela Branum prompted the investigation after learning that their daughter is the offspring of Thomas Lippert, an employee at the University of Utah lab where the family received a sperm donation in 1991.  

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.”

Governor Meets with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Apr 14, 2014
Brian Grimmett / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert is in Washington D.C. Monday meeting with outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about his plan to help low income Utahns get health insurance.

Veterans Health via Flickr

In the wake of another tragic shooting at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, the Veteran’s Affairs office in Salt Lake City is reaching out to military veterans who are seeking mental health services and is trying to dispel any misconceptions about mental health and violence.

Andrea Smardon

The Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City has completed an expansion, so more parents with seriously ill children will be able to stay.  There are not only more beds, but more features to accommodate families as healthcare delivery evolves in Utah.

“We wanted families when they walked in to feel like they were entering a very different place than the hospital,” says Carrie Romano, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area. “We wanted them to be greeted with a bright beautiful wall. As you can see, it says the house that love built.”

Jonathan Kland / LDS Architecture https://ldsarchitecture.wordpress.com/category/meetinghouses/united-states/utah/salt-lake-valley/salt-lake-12th-ward/

Many faith leaders in Utah have been vocal about encouraging lawmakers to expand Medicaid in the state. But the dominant faith – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – has been silent when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, one LDS ward in downtown Salt Lake City is quietly working to help congregants get access to health insurance.

A new health clinic in Midvale is serving residents who may not otherwise have access to primary care. Salt Lake County and Midvale City officials gathered at the clinic this morning to celebrate the new facility.  

The Mid-Valley Health Clinic at Copperview Recreation Center provides medical care on a sliding pay scale, particularly to people who don’t have health insurance. It’s operated by non-profit health provider Utah Partners for Health.

Mayor Ben McAdams says the county is providing the space for the clinic.

Utah consumers are being asked to help eliminate unnecessary healthcare by questioning their doctors. A campaign called Choosing Wisely Utah is holding public discussions to encourage conversations between patients and physicians about avoiding treatments that add little or no benefit. The first of these discussions with health experts is at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.  

Herbert: Delay Hasn't Hurt Medicaid Alternative

Mar 27, 2014
Brian Grimmett

  Governor Gary Herbert says he doesn’t think Utah’s long delay in coming up with an alternative to expanding Medicaid has hurt the prospect of a successful program.

The legislative session ended without action by lawmakers on any proposal for reaching those who aren’t covered by either Medicaid  or the Affordable Care Act.  Governor Herbert has proposed a program funded by block grants from the federal government to buy private health insurance for those people.  He says the Obama administration has indicated it will be flexible in working out a solution.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is encouraging rural Utahns to sign up for health insurance before the federal deadline on Monday. Secretary Vilsack says that Utahns who live in rural areas have a lot to gain from the federal Affordable Care Act.

U Healthcare CEO Calls for New Funding Model in DC

Mar 25, 2014
Andrea Smardon

The Dean of the University of Utah’s School of Medicine was in Washington DC Tuesday testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee which included Representative Chris Stewart of Utah’s 2nd District. Dr. Vivian Lee requested an increase in medical research and education funding in the federal budget.

Session Ends with No Medicaid Decision, Talks Continue

Mar 14, 2014
Brian Grimmett

  Another Utah legislative session has ended without a decision on Medicaid, but Governor Gary Herbert and healthcare advocates are declaring a victory of sorts.

Late in the session, Governor Herbert came out with his long-awaited proposal to get health coverage for Utah’s poorest citizens. He wants to use federal dollars to buy private coverage for low-income Utahns, but he first needs approval from the federal government. He asked state lawmakers not to limit him with any legislation that would hinder negotiations with the feds.

Bob Nelson

A doctor at the University of Utah Hospital implanted a small wireless heart monitor Tuesday in a first-of-its-kind procedure in the Intermountain West. Dr. Fred Han performed the procedure by placing a device the size of a triple-a battery under the skin, near the heart.

Senate Passes Partial Medicaid Expansion

Mar 10, 2014
Brian Grimmett

The Utah Senate has approved a plan to partially expand Utah’s Medicaid program, but not before amending it to make it more compatible with Governor Gary Herbert’s expansion proposal.

KUED

Time is running out for the Utah legislature to make a decision on what they want to do about health insurance for low-income Utahns.  There are several health reform proposals in the legislature that have yet to be approved, with only four working days left in the session. But at this point, the governor has the power to move forward with his plan, so long as lawmakers don’t stand in his way.

Andrea Smardon

Governor Gary Herbert got some positive feedback Thursday on his plan to offer health insurance to low-income Utahns. Herbert visited a homeless health clinic in Salt Lake City and heard from citizens who do not qualify for insurance subsidies, but also do not qualify for Medicaid, leaving them in a coverage gap.

Brian Grimmett

When Governor Gary Herbert laid out his Healthy Utah plan Thursday he said he was confident that it would get support from the state legislature as well as the federal government.  But the governor’s proposal to accept federal money to help low-income Utahns buy health insurance may meet some resistance from Republicans in the state House…. especially the House speaker.

Gutted E-Cigarette Bill Passes House

Feb 28, 2014
Flickr: Lindsay Fox

The Utah House unanimously passed a bill Friday that would put harsher penalties on stores that sell electronic cigarettes to minors, but not before passing a substitute bill that drastically changed the sponsor’s original intent.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert announced his long-awaited plan Thursday concerning Medicaid and health coverage for the poorest Utahns. He’s calling it Healthy Utah.

The Supreme Court decided in 2012 to let states choose whether to expand Medicaid as it was intended under the Affordable Care Act. Now, more than a year and a half later, after reviewing proposals from the state house, the senate, and panels of stakeholders, Governor Herbert finally revealed his plan.

Senate Republicans Consider Partial Medicaid Expansion

Feb 26, 2014
Brian Shiozawa
Brian Grimmett

A Republican state senator has put forth a proposal for a partial expansion of Medicaid in Utah. Senate majority leaders say they are meeting Wednesday night to decide whether they will get behind this proposal, a different House plan that rejects Medicaid dollars, or another solution all together. 

Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa is an Emergency Room doctor. So he’s all too familiar with the coverage gap - those 54,000 Utahns who live in poverty and can’t get health insurance.

No Money in State Budget to Fund GOP Alternative to Medicaid Expansion

Feb 25, 2014
Brian Grimmett/KUER file photo

A Republican proposal to provide health coverage for those under the poverty line has advanced to the House floor for consideration, but lawmakers in charge of the budget say there is no money for it at this point, and time is running out to accept any new requests.

Andrea Smardon

Hundreds of people are expected at the Utah State Capitol Thursday afternoon to rally for those with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Advocates will be calling attention to a shortage in public funding for treatment, and they’ll be asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

Republican state lawmakers have come up with a proposal to provide health insurance for those who fall below the poverty line, but it does not expand Medicaid in the state. Democrats say rejecting those federal dollars is irresponsible.

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those find themselves in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

Utah Gets Visit from Federal Healthcare Officials

Feb 5, 2014

Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are in Utah this week on a two-day trip to talk with state lawmakers and advocates. The visit was ostensibly a chance for Utahns to meet the new regional director, but healthcare advocates say they also got a pep talk to sign more people up for insurance, and to continue pushing for a Medicaid expansion in the state. 

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