SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, 8 March 2003.

Some Health Care Bills Made It, Some Didn't

Health and Human Services: The state's four preschool programs for children with autism, which were targeted to lose all $1.6 million in state funding early in the session, were spared the ax.
The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) will get $1.9 million to hire 51 new caseworkers and trainers in response to a legislative audit and threats by a federal judge to order allocation of the money to comply with a decade-old lawsuit.
The Foster Care Citizen Review Board, which reviews the cases of every child in DCFS custody, lost half its budget -- a cut of $320,000.
Despite $1 million in new funding, a budget shortfall in the Baby Watch Early Intervention Program, which serves kids under 3 who are developmentally delayed, could force services to be pulled from infants and toddlers.
Also, about 2,125 fewer people will receive mental health and substance abuse treatment because of a $1.5 million cutback in the budget for the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
-- Jacob Santini

Medicaid, Children's Insurance: Lawmakers restored much of the Medicaid budget, a move that prevented 6,000 people from losing their health care coverage. Lawmakers also restored Medicaid funding for physical therapy and audiology.
But dental and vision services, excluding children and pregnant women, were not restored. Lawmakers eliminated Medicaid-funded circumcisions.
-- Jacob Santini

Preventative Preventive Health Care: For the fourth year, Sen. Paula Julander, D-Salt Lake City, tried and failed to get her colleagues to support a law requiring health insurance policies offered in the state to cover a handful of preventive health tests and treatments.
The bill covered tests and treatments for osteoporosis and prostate, breast, cervical, colon and colorectal cancers. Also included were prescriptive contraceptives, with an exception for a "religious employer" to opt out of such coverage.
-- Jacob Santini

Residential Treatment: If it becomes law, substitute House Bill 137 will allow cities and counties to exclude a residential treatment center if it "would likely create a fundamental change in the character of a neighborhood."
The measure also would allow local governments to limit the number of occupants at such centers.
-- Leo Tyson Dirr

Smallpox Liability: House Bill 160 was passed and signed into law to protect Utah's public health agencies from liability in cases of side effects from the smallpox vaccine. The law was needed to begin smallpox vaccinations among a small group of Utah public health workers.

Fluoride: House Bill 64 passed, requiring any votes on removing fluoride from municipal water supplies to be held at least four years after a vote that approved the addition of the substance. Under the law, the earliest a vote could be held to remove fluoride from water would be November 2004. Salt Lake area water suppliers are slated to begin adding fluoride in October.

(File prepared 8 March 2003)