UNA Alert from the GRC
Legislative members on Appropriations were faced with decisions to reduce the budget from the state government early this summer. Last week, the Salt Lake Tribune ran an article about cutting $2.5 million from the Utah Health Clinics of Utah (3 clinics) that serve Medicaid patients with primary care and preventive care. These clinics are very efficient with money. They are able to serve their patients for approximately $195/yr/patient. These clinics also serve refugees who are required to go through health screening upon arrival.
The commentary notes “Now is not the time to close our state’s safety net clinics. There are other clinics that serve the medically disadvantaged, including our state’s 13 federally-supported Community Health Centers, (which provide services at some 50 sites), others funded by Intermountain Healthcare, and the Maliheh Free Clinic, but together they do not have the capacity to begin to meet the needs.
For example, the Health Clinics of Utah located in Salt Lake City has more than 13,000 patients on their roles, and over 10,000 patients were served in 2019. Closing these clinics will leave a huge gap in our ability to serve those most in need of primary care.
This particular budget cut serves as a great example of “penny wise/pound foolish,” in that if these patients can’t be seen in a relatively low-cost clinic, they will go to much more costly urgent care and emergency rooms, at a significantly greater cost to the state. And even more costly will be the many patients with chronic illnesses who will just not get the care they need at all and end up sick enough to require hospitalization, or possibly die from preventable causes of death.”
Many of us, as nurses, know that these clinics are full or have a waitlist of several weeks for an appointment.
Please write your legislators about your concerns for this budget decision. We should also write to Governor Herbert to reverse this decision.