Say goodbye to Utah’s oft-repeated boast that “we take care of our own.” As recently reported, our legislature has just eliminated a $2.5 million annual subsidy that allows public health clinics to operate in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo. According to the report, as a result, some 13,000 low-income patients will be forced to search for new care providers.
Doubtlessly, many of those unfortunates will be stymied in their search for regular health care, and will delay seeking care until forced to visit emergency rooms and intensive care units. Quite probably, we the public will end up paying more than $2.5 million in order to provide such emergency and acute care services. Also, unemployment benefits will be due to many of the 41 care providers who reportedly will lose their jobs as a result of this budget cut. So I, for one, seriously doubt that this cut is even fiscally prudent.
And coming in a time of pandemic, from a state that claims to have responsibly set aside a substantial rainy day fund, this budget cut seems driven by the dubious, false and pervasive belief among our politically conservative population that low-income people are unworthy of reliable assistance in times of need. We take care of our own, all right — so long as our own are well-to-do and politically connected. For that, shame on us all.
J. Kevin Murphy, Salt Lake City