Reporters have written the story. The editorial boards have opined and the columnists have weighed in. The E-mail from the advocate community has become angry and bitter. Candidates are rushing to make political hay out of the issue.
This blog posting is not addressed to any of them.
I’m writing this post in case some citizen, somewhere, wants extra perspective on what happened in the Special Session last Wednesday. Maybe a college student, or archeologist, millennia from now, will unearth the hard drive to this computer and use it to reconstruct early 21st Century events.
To anyone out there that fits that description, I say: Thank you for being curious enough to look for truth beyond the sound bite.
The Utah Legislature put $100 million new dollars into health and human services this year. Of course it’s not enough. Human needs are as endless as they are heartbreaking.
This year we dealt with a long list of worthy requests. Many that were prioritized much higher than Medicaid Dental were unfunded or under funded. Examples:
* Drug Courts
* Adoption caseload growth
* Foster Care growth
* Higher reimbursement rates for medical providers
* Utah Birth Defects Network
* Additional caseworkers for DCFS
* Mental health services
As human beings we are inclined to say yes to every worthy request. As policy makers, we have to make necessary tough decisions. Declining to fund aspects of the Medicaid dental program was one of those tough decisions.
Because of this prioritized waiting list, significant confusion over the funding mechanism and questions over who would actually benefit from the allocation - plus the fact that future federal Medicaid funding is uncertain at best, we felt it would be irresponsible to promise funding to the optional Medicaid dental program.
Our hearts do go out to those who are suffering and will not have state aid for their problems.