5 Things Utah: Rep. Marsha Judkins, Health legislation, Topical agenda

We are now six weeks out from our 2020 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference, and we’re thrilled with how things are coming together! We are curating speakers now, a number expected to total about 65 when we’re done. You’ll see some of the most important names in Utah health care and health policy on that list when we release it in two weeks. So, stay tuned!

Until then, here are five things we think are worth watching in Utah health care and health policy for the month of February, 2020.



With help from Emily Boerger


1. Noteable health care legislation in the session

Reporter Monte Whaley is tracking health care legislation moving this session. On prescription drugs, HB 272 would require pharmacy benefit managers to pass the rebates they receive from manufactures over to consumers at the point of sale, while insurers still get the agreed upon sums.

This morning, the House Health and Human Services Committee approved legislation that would cap the out of pocket costs for insulin. HB 207 caps the amount patients would pay at $30 per prescription. A bill by Rep. Dunnigan would seek federal permission to pay for inpatient mental health for institutions with more than 16 beds.

2. Topical Agenda for State of Reform is out!

Our Convening Panel met last month in preparation for our 2020 Utah State of Reform Heath Policy Conference coming up in Salt Lake City on April 2nd. We sorted through session topics, ideas, and speakers. In case you missed it, we recently released the work product from that meeting, our Topical Agenda.

If you didn’t make last year’s event, you can take a look at the highlights from the conference. I think it conveys the authenticity, optimism and the collaborative spirit that is so energizing about State of Reform. So get you and your executive team registered to be with us in Salt Lake City while our regular registration rates are still in place.

3. Q&A: Rep. Marsha Judkins on health, housing, and drug transparency

Rep. Marsha Judkins was elected in 2018 to represent District 61 in the Utah House where she serves on the Health & Human Services, Social Service Appropriations, and Transportation Committees. Three weeks into session, reporter Michael Goldberg spoke with Rep. Judkins about bridging the gap between health policy and housing policy, the recent revelation that Utah sends workers abroad to buy medicine, and the importance of transparency in lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

“Pharmacy benefit managers need to supply pharmacies. Though they have negotiating power, they don’t have all the power. Then you’ve got the plans, and they want to get paid; these are all mostly for-profit companies. And then you’ve got the patient getting squeezed at the bottom. It’s hard to blame a company for trying to make a profit when that is their goal and yet, it’s hard to look at them with compassion when they are, honestly, causing death among people who should be able to afford medication.”

4. Video: Camille Collett, MD, MPH

St. Mark’s family physician and faculty member, Dr. Camille Collett, serves as Co-Chair of the UTAH POLST Registry Committee. In this capacity, she works on enabling access to patients’ Advance Care Planning wishes when they are unable to express their wishes themselves. She joins us in this edition of ‘What They’re Watching” to discuss the oft overlooked difference between an Advance Care Directive and a Medical Order for Life Sustaining Treatment.

“Unfortunately, if a 93-year-old collapses on the golf course and the emergency medical people are called, they are obligated to perform CPR unless they have a medical order they can see. And a living will, which is an Advance Directive, that is actually not a medical order even though it might outline what our wishes are. That actually has to be brought to the hospital with them…and it’s a little bit late because by that time, many people are in the intensive care unit.”

5. Capretta: “Healthy Adult Opportunity” intiative

Some of the biggest health news in recent weeks came from CMS’s release of the “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative, or what many are calling a “block grant” model. State of Reform columnist Jim Capretta of AEI takes a complex proposal and explains the impact and its component parts.

Some critics suggest that the new waivers will lead to a downsizing in Medicaid, but Capretta says this will only happen if states that have already expanded Medicaid choose to submit waivers. “It seems more likely that the governors who will be the most attracted to the new option will be those who serve in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs,” writes Capretta. “If this waiver program entices several non-expansion states to join the ranks of those that have expanded their programs, then it is possible the administration’s proposal will increase enrollment in Medicaid rather than reduce it.”