To: Ellen Brady,
Subject: Various legislative agenda items
Date: Fri Feb 12 06:11:04 MST 2016
This year’s legislative session is now underway, adding some clarity to the actions under consideration. Accordingly, I would like to call out some of my priorities and concerns with regard to those actions.
- I sat through the House and Human Services Committee Meeting this morning as a room packed full of concerned citizens spoke, to a person, in favor of Medicaid Expansion. I won’t go into a lengthy analysis of why this should happen—simply is the financially responsible and humane thing to do. I will, however, paraphrase a quote seen recently in the Trib related to Rep Patrice Arent’s effort to put a ‘Citizen Petition’ on the ballot: “We know what the people want and this would only delay things further as people wait to see its outcome.” So my return comment is “if you know what the people want then ‘just do it’. You were elected to run the state in a way that meets the needs of your constituents. Just do your job. Sen Gene Davis’ bill (SB77) seems the most logical way forward. Just give back to Gov Herbert the authority given him under the ACA and let him implement his Healthy Utah plan. Or better yet, the full ACA program.
- Per an earlier email, please support Rep Brian King’s Comprehensive Sex Education bill (HB0246). I watched in horror as the media drug out Gayle Rusicka once again as the ‘loyal opposition’ to all things medically sound and policy wise. I would refute her comments on Channel 2 that ‘our STI rates are low, so we shouldn’t teach our kids about sex’. Simply stated, something like 73% of teen births were unplanned. The number was 30% for all age groups, suggesting that our kids deserve better and even the parents could use some ‘knowledge upgrade’. Abstinence only programs simply do not work. Comprehensive sex education, begun early in an age-appropriate manner does, as the experience in the Netherlands demonstrates. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/spring-fever/
- Also per that email, please vote against any measures that would restrict access to abortion or funding for Planned Parenthood. Other ‘options’ throughout the state simply cannot fill the need gap. Especially given the failure to expand Medicare, one should note that 63% of Planned Parenthood’s clientele are uninsured—precisely the population for whom an ‘ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Recent experience in Texas and across the country have demonstrated clear ‘return on investment’ when it comes to Title X programs such as Planned Parenthood. (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1511902; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-0009.12080/epdf)
- Kudos for pulling the bill that would liberalize concealed carry laws even further. We already have some of the easiest to obtain concealed permit laws in the country. Arming more and more citizens as they ‘walk the streets’ with guns will not make us safer, even were those persons to undergo rigorous training in the safety and use of their weapons. Rather, the more guns ‘out there’, the more guns there will be in the hands of those who are ill-prepared to use them wisely.
- Another ‘gun measure’ before the legislature would remove liability for gun manufacturers and sellers for injury due to the weapons they make and sell. Please vote no. One of the most common sense things we could do in this state and country to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country would be to hold manufacturers, retailers, and owners liable for the guns they push on the public. The myth of the ‘responsible gun owner’ is just that—a myth. Huge percentages of owners store or use their guns improperly, leading to huge numbers of ‘accidental’ shootings and injuries. The Sandy Hook massacre could have been prevented, had the perpetrator’s mother taken steps to keep guns out of the hands of her mentally unstable son. We require automobile owners to hold liability insurance as a condition of automobile licensure. Guns are designed to kill. Certainly we ought to ensure that owners be held accountable for the proper and truly responsible use of that capacity.
- Please, please, please do ‘whatever is necessary’ to make progress toward cleaner air. Clean air is one of the basic necessities of life and our air is literally killing Utah citizens and our economy. It simply is not acceptable when I look out my window and cannot see the Wasatch—less than 10 minutes from my house.
- Also please support the mandatory vaccination bill. The public health benefits are extraordinarily well documented in spite of all the ‘anti-vax’ rhetoric floating across the public ether. On a personal level, our family fell victim to the increasing pool of unvaccinated persons circulating in the population. Our son, for solid medical reasons, did not received the full diphtheria series. He was exposed to an active case among his peers, contracted the disease and brought it home to my husband and I who, perhaps due to age-related decline in immunity, were more vulnerable than we realized. All of us suffered from a serious period of illness and the aftermath for me has resulted in a chronic and debilitating cough that has persisted for months.
Ellen Brady, MD, MPH