5 Things Utah: Rep. Marsha Judkins’ 2023 priorities, Q&A w/ Leavitt Partners’ John Poelman, 2023 budget recommendations


Eli Kirshbaum


The final Utah edition of “5 Things” for 2022 features Rep. Marsha Judkins’ outlook for health-related work in the upcoming 2023 legislative session, Leavitt Partners Senior Director John Poelman’s input on the status of value-based care in Utah, and some information about the Executive Appropriations Committee’s recently approved budget recommendations for FY 2023-2024.

Thanks for your engagement with us, and we look forward to continuing to work with you as State of Reform keeps growing in 2023. Have a wonderful rest of the year!

Eli Kirshbaum
State of Reform 


1. Rep. Marsha Judkins optimistic about health reform work ahead

In a recent conversation with State of Reform, Republican Rep. Marsha Judkins expressed her optimism for the health reform work on deck for the 2023 legislative session. A member of the Health and Human Services Interim Committee, Judkins has been developing health priorities for next year, which include the allocation of the $170 million currently in the state’s Medicaid expansion fund and a bill to provide long-term home-based support for individuals with serious mental illness.

Judkin’s bill would use funding from Utah’s Medicaid Community Supports Waiver to have counties establish Assertive Community Treatment teams. “[ACT is] a 10-member team that has a psychiatrist, they have peer support, therapists, [a] doctor, nurse practitioner, all these people who could wrap services around someone with severe mental illness,” Judkins said. “It’s a long-term, lifelong support for people and we have a lot of things that help people in crisis.”


2. Q&A: Leavitt Partners’ John Poelman discusses outlook for value-based care in Utah

In a recent conversation with State of Reform, Leavitt Partners Senior Director John Poelman discussed Utah’s work to develop the One Utah Health Collaborative over the past year and what’s on the horizon for value-based care in Utah. He highlighted the high number of signatories of the collaborative’s recent pledge of commitment as well as his confidence in Executive Director Jaime Wissler‘s leadership.

Poelman also described what he sees as a Utah-specific approach to shifting to value-based care. “Utah is not a state which is coming in strong with mandatory changes, like requirements to adopt value-based care that you might see in some [other] states,” he said. ” I don’t think that type of approach is the Utah way. But again, what we have going for it is really a lot of goodwill and enthusiasm to do the right thing in healthcare. That will inevitably surface more models that are proven successful through value-based care.”


3. What They’re Watching: Liz Close, PhD, Utah Nurses Association

In this edition of “What They’re Watching,” Utah Nurses Association Executive Director Liz Close, PhD, describes the challenges the nursing profession has faced having entered the pandemic with an already-burnt-out workforce. COVID-19, of course, only compounded this burnout.

To solve the increasing stress nurses in the state are feeling, UNA is meeting with nurses to hear about their most pressing needs, aiming to eliminate the pervasive stressors in nurses’ work environments. Close cited workplace violence as an example of this. “We provide tools and the knowledge for the nurses to be able to prevent stress, stop it before it takes hold of them, and at the same time have our organizations systematically get rid of environmental stressors.”


4. Health items in Executive Appropriations Committee’s budget recommendations

The state’s Executive Appropriations Committee approved its budget recommendations last week for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The recommendations, which are specific to each of Utah’s eight appropriations subcommittees, exceed $21 billion in total spending ($11.7 in one-time spending and $9.3 billion in ongoing spending). The committee will draft base budget bills for each subcommittee before the session starts on Jan. 7th. The subcommittees will then review and approve the recommendations prior to the end of Utah’s legislative session on March 3rd.

The Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, the primary health-related subcommittee, is allocated $1.48 billion in ongoing funding for next fiscal year. This includes $141.8 million to fund Gov. Cox’s budgeted line items for DHHS, which include almost $65 million to cover changes to Medicaid consensus forecasted costs and $2.9 million to cover the expansion of postpartum coverage to 12 months.


5. Pediatric health leader optimistic about future for Utah youth behavioral health

Lisa Giles, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric Behavioral Health at the U of U and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, recently told State of Reform she has a positive outlook for youth behavioral health going forward. “Now we’re at a time where the stigma is greatly decreased. People are talking about [youth mental health], philanthropic dollars want to go to mental health needs, the legislature’s talking about it,” she said. “I’m optimistic at the end of the day.”

Among the state’s recent efforts to improve youth behavioral health are Gov. Cox’s commitment to addressing social media’s negative impact on youth, the expansion of the state’s Stabilization Mobile Response Region to include Wasatch, Utah, and Juab counties, and U of U’s work through the Utah School Mental Health Collaborative to help schools support student mental health.