This week I’ve been sharing my healthcare priorities. Access to good healthcare is essential for every person to work and provide for their families. We’ve made progress in increasing access to good healthcare, but we still have work to do. As your senator I will make access to good healthcare a top priority like I did during my time in the Utah legislature.
Here’s where things currently stand:
The state of Utah is nationally ranked #11 in health care overall, but ranks #30 in health care accessibility. Health care cost and accessibility has consistently been a top 5 issue for Utahns, but it jumped to #1 in July 2020 during the pandemic.
Nearly half of Utah voters have indicated the cost of health insurance was their top priority when thinking generally about health care costs. The most commonly reported burden, by 47% of Utah adults, was having to change their prescribed medications due to cost.
More women put off receiving needed health care due to cost than men. In a study conducted by the United Health Foundation, 18.7% of Utah women ages 18-44 reported a time in the past 12 months when they needed to see a doctor but could not afford to.
In 2020, less than two-thirds of Utah children had adequate health insurance coverage, according to America’s Health Rankings. Our state ranks only a few percentage points above Wyoming, which is the least healthy state with 55.6% of children facing inadequate insurance coverage.
Health care providers in the state are struggling to meet staffing demands. Usually the University of Utah Health has 600 to 800 open jobs in all of its facilities statewide. However, Chief Human Resources Officer Sarah Sherer says they currently have 900 job openings.
Utah has also struggled to address mental health issues. According to a 2019 Gardner Institute Policy Report, one in five Utah adults experience poor mental health. At the time of the report, over half of Utah adults with mental illness did not receive mental health treatment or counseling.
We also have a growing air quality crisis, with wildfire smoke and inversion causing poor air quality and affecting our health.
While that’s a lot to take in, we’ve made significant progress in recent years. As a former social worker, I understand issues around mental and behavioral health and the need for services to help people climb out of crisis and lead healthy, prosperous lives.
While I was in the legislature, I pioneered a telehealth pilot program to increase access to health care across the state, which paved the way for future telehealth initiatives. I also led out on climate legislation.
Tackling tough issues like healthcare isn’t new to me. It’s why I know I’m the best candidate for the U.S. Senate.
“Access to good health care is essential for every person to work and provide for their families. I support competition, innovation, price transparency, and protection from surprise billing as tools to increase access and reduce the cost of health care. I also support telehealth solutions to increase mental and behavioral health services.”
As I’ve visited with Utahns this week, I’ve heard their struggles. Health care is top of mind for many Utahns. As kids have gone back to school, the state legislature has tied local school districts’ hands on implementing a mask mandate and other measures to mitigate risks to our children. It’s proven that masks are an effective tool to combat contagious, airborne diseases. I believe school districts should have the ability to mandate masks and we should all follow the CDC’s new masking guidelines which calls for everyone to mask up, regardless of vaccination status, in response to the Delta variant spreading rapidly.
We also must all get vaccinated. As of September 3rd, 1,824,898 Utahns had received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s progress, but in order to kick this pandemic, we need to do better. These vaccines are a safe and effective miracle. We have a fantastic system in place to make it easy for you. Now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already.
Remembering Our Heroes
You may have seen this on my website this week. To remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I wanted to honor the heroism and bravery of our first responders, members of the military, and essential workers by sending them to the BYU vs. Utah rivalry game. We’ve received hundreds of responses. Winners will be announced tomorrow and honored at this special Sept. 11th event. Stay tuned for coverage of the event!
Around The State
This last week, I was able to see so many of you at Midway’s annual Swiss Days parade, Park City’s Miner’s Day Parade, and our Yellow Couch Tour Stop in Rose Park. Thank you to all who came and said hi! I love meeting new people around the state and hearing what matters most to them.