5 Things Utah: FY ’21 budget, Topical Agenda, Mental health

We have a number of things we think are worth watching this month if you’re a health care or health policy leader – from the FY 21 budget to the topic of Black leadership in US health care. Hopefully you’ll find some good nuggets of information, analysis and context that you can’t find anywhere else.

We’d very much appreciate your forwarding this newsletter to any of your colleagues or friends. They can sign up here for this newsletter here.





With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Special session with packed agenda to begin Thursday

Gov. Herbert issued a proclamation yesterday calling the Utah Legislature into a special session beginning on Thursday. The governor set out 26 agenda items to be considered during the special session. While adjusting state budgets will be top of mind for lawmakers, agenda items also include “addressing certain methods of restraint by peace officers” and various COVID-19 adjacent priorities (extending emergency response, data privacy, rent & mortgage assistance, for example).

Moments ago, the Executive Appropriations Committee released a revised FY ’21 budget that will draw significantly upon reserves. Senate President Stuart Adams confirmed last week that legislative leaders are crafting a plan to stave off deep cuts to education and social services by tapping into the state’s $900 million rainy day fund. According to Utah Policy’s reporting, other state budgets may be trimmed anywhere from 2%, 5%, or even 10% depending on new revenue estimates and ongoing tax collections. A new revenue for forecast for fiscal year 2020-2021 will be released today.

2. The Topical Agenda for our Virtual Conference

This week, we released our Topical Agenda ahead of our 2020 Utah State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference. It’s a solid group of topics based on the guidance and feedback of our Convening Panel.

We’ve really worked to create a digital-first experience for this virtual event. We didn’t want to try to jam in our in-person event into a virtual setting. Rather, we put everything on hold, and re-assessed the best way to foster the right kinds of conversations to support reforming Utah’s health care system.

I think we’ve hit the mark – in terms of technology, content and format. So, I hope you’ll take a look and consider joining us on September 15th!

3. Virtual event: Black leadership in US health care and health policy

This Friday, we host a virtual conversation with three leaders I hold in the highest esteem across our entire nine state footprint. They also happen to be black. So, on June 19th – also known as Juneteenth – we will hold a discussion of how health care organizations can grapple with structural racism built into American institutions and what it’s like to be a black leader in US health care.

The panel includes Eric Hunter of CareOregon, Demetria Malloy, MD, of Anthem Medicaid in California and Rep. Garnet Coleman, a 30 year legislator out of Houston, Texas. It’s a tremendous honor for us to host these three folks in a multi-state conversation. I hope you’ll find time to listen and get yourself registered with us.

4. Huntsman & Cox barrel toward election day in tight GOP primary

Utah’s June 30th primary will very likely determine the next governor of Utah, and the race is shaping up to be a very tight contest. A new Dan Jones & Associates poll shows Gov. Jon Huntsman holding a narrow lead over Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox in the race’s closing weeks. The poll, conducted between June 1-10, shows Huntsman with 35% support over Cox’s 31%, with 18% of respondents answering that they were still undecided.

Polling still appears to be fluid, however, as a UtahPolicy.com/KUTV news poll conducted about 3 weeks prior showed Cox with a seven-point lead. Last night’s debate didn’t seem to produce a break-away winner. So, expect things to be close on election day.


5. Acute mental health impacts on the horizon

Outside of Utah, in Washington State, the Dept. of Health there produced a chilling document about mental health impacts from COVID. It wasn’t meant for wide distribution, but I think it’s a compelling look at how this COVID pandemic is likely to impact us over time. I’ve never seen something quite like it, so I think it’s worth sharing to our Utah readers, given the existing mental health challenges facing the state.

The document says we are at the height of the “honeymoon period” right now, with a long decline in well being ahead of the one year anniversary. The document predicts up to 60% of the population will experience some form of depression. About “half of the individuals who experience a behavioral health diagnosis will develop a substance abuse disorder… Behavioral health symptoms including anxiety, trouble sleeping, stomach aches, and headaches will be consistent in the general population in the summer months of 2020.”