5 Things Utah: Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Brad Daw, Medicaid waiver for homelessness respite

Welcome to fall, and the news that the PAC-12 will start up football in November. The Mountain West announced late last night they will restart in October.

I love football. But, I’m already conflicted about the research showing how damaging the sport is to these young men who aren’t getting paid for their services. This makes me wonder if the financial incentive from TV revenue was just too great to pass up for the athletic departments, in spite of the possible increased risk to these young men. The NFL has been relatively clean so far from COVID, though colleges have fared less well.





With help from Michael Goldberg

1. ICYMI: Sen. Mitt Romney Keynote

Thank you to the approximately 250 folks who attended our 2020 Utah Virtual Health Policy Conference a few weeks back. We had 43 speakers from across Utah’s heath care ecosystem who joined us for a one of a kind event.

During the afternoon Keynote, I got a chance for an extended interview with US Sen. Mitt Romney. Sen. Romney provided insight into how Mitch McConnell holds the caucus together, what gives him hope in America today, and what he thinks health policy will look like in either a Trump or Biden administration. He identified the three transcendent issues he thinks are critical for America to address, regardless of who wins in November: China’s emergence as a superpower, the national debt, and climate change.

2. Q&A: Rep. Brad Daw

Rep. Brad Daw is Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee. In a recent interview with State of Reform, he discussed the Legislature’s response to COVID, but also provided an update on legislation he hopes to work on when the dust settles, such as consumer-driven health care, medical cannabis policy, and drug licensing reform.

“There’s a group out there that really wants to push this all the way to recreational, there’s another group out there that wants medical cannabis but they want it in a ‘wide-open’ sort of way. There are definitely some medical uses for marijuana, but we don’t want to throw out all the regulatory framework that has served us well over the years…My job is to try to find that sweet spot where it’s medicine, it’s available, it’s reasonably priced, but it’s well regulated so it’s not being abused.”


3. Legislature considering Medicaid waiver for homeless care pilot program

The Legislature’s Health Reform Task Force is considering the approval of a Medicaid waiver for a UDOH pilot program that would provide medical respite care for individuals experiencing homelessness.  Rep. Jim Dunnigan recommended that the Senate tackle the funding framework for the bill while the House will fine tune the policy details.

According to Kimberlin Correa, Executive Director of The Inn Between, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit, the goal of a Medical Respite 1115 Waiver is to give medical respite care providers, state and federal Medicaid leadership, and MCOs specific reimbursement options to incorporate into the care they offer to medically complex homeless patients, “resulting in improved health outcomes and reduced cost and strain on the health care system.”


4. SelectHealth Names Mike Cotton as new President and CEO

Recently, SelectHealth named Mike Cotton as its new President and CEO. Cotton will also serve as a member of Intermountain Healthcare’s Executive Leadership Team. Cotton replaces former SelectHealth President and CEO Patricia Richards who retired on August 31.

I’ve known Mike from his time leading Providence Health Plan (PHP). While there, he was very focused on growth strategies, ranging from organic member accumulation to entering new lines of business. He was active in the M&A market, oriented PHP towards growth, and explored expansion outside of Oregon, where the plan was based. Some of his efforts failed to materialize, though that probably says more about the hospital system that owned the plan than Cotton’s work.

Mike’s reputation is one of growth and expansion. That means Intermountain hired him to be aggressive in growth at Select, and probably other risk-focused areas like Castell, too.


5. Missing and murdered indigenous women and girls task force moving forward

A new legislative task force that will seek policy solutions to prevent and address crimes involving missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) in Utah is moving forward this week. Sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero and Sen. David Hinkins, the nine-member task force will study gaps in data collection that advocates say underrate the prevalence of MMIWG cases.

Looking at the current data, Utah and Salt Lake City both rank in the top 10 among U.S. states and cities for the highest number of MMIWG cases, according to a 2018 report from the Urban Indian Health Institute. With improved state data collection systems, proponents of the task force say information sharing on MMIWG cases between agencies will be improved.