This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Here's a challenge for all the Republican legislators who have blocked any meaningful health-care reform and refused to pass Gov. Gary Herbert's Healthy Utah plan, which would provide coverage to tens of thousands of vulnerable Utahns:
Will you donate, out of your own pockets, to help an infant who will need continual prescribed helmets, at thousands of dollars apiece, to protect his skull as his head grows?
That's the question posed by Reid C. Allen, a retired engineer from Midvale, who contacted his state representative during the recent legislative session, which yielded nothing in the way of alternatives to Medicaid expansion.
He relayed the story of his niece and her husband, Cheryl and Jake Sever, whose son, Jackson, was born in January with a defect that prevents his skull from growing an affliction that eventually would constrict his brain.
Jake works two jobs to barely make ends meet and, although the Ogden couple had insurance, the policy was expensive, leaving them with little left for other needs.
They dropped that insurance after getting a cheaper plan through the state just before Jackson was born. They then were told that, to qualify, they first had to apply for coverage under the government-subsidized Children's Health Insurance Program.
After Jackson's arrival, CHIP denied their application.
Jackson underwent surgery in April to open up the skull and allow his brain to grow. The Severs obtained insurance to pay for some of it. But there is no coverage for the helmets the child needs to protect the skull, and he will need several replacements as he grows.
Donations to an online campaign http://www.gofundme.com/qcbbwug helped pay for the first helmet. Funding for future ones remains uncertain.
So, Allen asks, will the legislators who refused to pass the governor's plan which would have given this family a reasonable chance help pay for this baby's future helmets?
Don't hold your breath.
Friends in need • While the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature failed to pass an alternative to Medicaid expansion, leaving hordes of families without medical coverage, lawmakers did allocate $1.5 million to help the Senate Executive Appropriations Chairman Lyle Hillyard's alma mater, Utah State University, field a better football team and chipped in $30,000 for festivities in Draper and Taylorsville, which happen to be the respective home towns of House Speaker Greg Hughes and House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan.
Lawmakers also gave a raise to their former Senate colleague, John Valentine, R-Orem, who now heads the Utah Tax Commission. Under law, executive positions on state boards and commissions get a salary that is 90 percent of what district judges receive. Judges make $136,500, so those board and commission bosses are paid $122,850.
But SB71, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, changed that by a significant amount for Tax Commission members. Under the measure, which cleared both houses overwhelmingly and took effect without the governor's signature, tax commissioners get a 10 percent bump a $13,650 raise.
You're welcome, Commissioner Valentine.
Just at the right time • It's probably a coincidence, but it certainly is good timing that the bout between Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield is taking place Friday to raise money for CharityVision, a nonprofit dedicated to saving the eyesight of the poor in developing nations.
May, as proclaimed by the governor, is Utah's vision-saving month. The Utah Lions Club, a service group long active in helping the blind and sight-challenged, initiated the monthlong recognition.
What's good for the goose? • Here is an irony from a Salt Lake Tribune story last week about a legislative audit that argued the Utah Retirement Systems for public employees may have lost a potential $1.3 billion in the past decade by investing too conservatively in hedge funds and other "alternative" ventures.
The story said the Legislative Auditor General's Office released the report Tuesday "after an unnamed legislator asked it to review URS investment policy and transparency."
So this legislator who doesn't want to be named wants more transparency.