Utah’s opioid crisis, Medicaid expansion and housing affordability are some of the biggest health issues being discussed in the legislative interim. Here is what businesses need to know and what to look for in the upcoming interim committee meetings occurring May 16th.

  1. Utah’s Opioid Crisis and National Litigation. Utah’s opioid crisis is one of the biggest health issues to date. Six Utahns die every week from opioid overdoses. The Health and Human Services Interim Committee will be discussing this issue and what potential solutions may lie ahead for Utah. One of which includes filing a lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers for manipulating opioid marketing and prescription labels for monetary gain. During the 2018 Legislative Session, the legislature passed a resolution that calls upon the state attorney general to “immediately and publicly commit to directly filing suit against prescription opioid manufacturers, instead of joining a suit with other plaintiffs, in order to seek the maximum award for damages from prescription opioid manufacturers in order to hold them accountable for the destruction and devastation they have inflicted upon the citizens of the state.” Daniel Burton, chief of policy and legislative affairs in the Office of the Utah Attorney General, will report on the status of the national opioid litigation and its statewide implications in the upcoming Judiciary Interim Committee meeting.
  2. Medicaid Expansion. The Utah Legislature passed a Medicaid expansion bill during the 2018 Legislative Session. This bill expanded Medicaid to 100 percent of the federal poverty level based on an enhanced federal match rate of 90 percent federal funding to 10 percent state funding. The bill also included an enrollment cap for expenditure limitations, which helps control Medicaid costs as the bill carries forward in the years to come. It is important to note that even though the legislature passed this bill, an expanded Medicaid program still has a way to go before it is part of Utah’s health care. The state must also submit and be approved for a Medicaid waiver from the federal government, which is given based upon meeting certain Medicaid program requirements. An update on this application and approval process will be given in the upcoming Health and Human Services Interim Committee meeting.
  3. Housing Affordability. If you can’t afford your housing costs, then you can’t afford your health costs. The Salt Lake Chamber championed two housing bills during the 2018 Legislative Session – H.B. 259, enabling more moderate income housing in city planning, and S.B. 239, which addresses housing for individuals who are homeless. Housing Affordability is a huge issue facing Utah-for the first time in 40 years we have more households than available housing units. The Political Subdivisions Interim Committee will be discussing how local ordinances and affordable housing can help solve this problem. For more information regarding the housing affordability crisis, read about the Salt Lake Chamber’s Housing GAP Coalition.

Ensuring a healthy community, especially to the most vulnerable among us, is a priority for the business community. In addition to health issues facing Utah, the Salt Lake Chamber will be providing interim updates for other issues and committees including economic development and workforce services, transportation, business and labor, revenue and tax, education and natural resources and environment.