Governor Gary Herbert and Pamela Atkinson launch the 2016 Homelessness Campaign

The Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund receives non-tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses on their state tax form. All donations to the fund go directly to service organizations statewide. The annual tax campaign highlights the opportunity Utahns have to donate directly to the trust fund, which enables vital assistance and services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Sutherland goes live on Utah Legislative Update radio show

Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Stan Rasmussen of Sutherland Institute (photo by @utahsenate)

Wayne Niederhauser and Stan Rasmussen (photo by @utahsenate)

Sutherland Institute’s Stan Rasmussen joined Senate President Wayne Niederhauser last week in the studio to talk about health reform and charity care on “Niedertalk” on KHQN (1480 AM).

Jim Fell of Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation also joined the show via phone to discuss lowering the legal blood alcohol content level.

Carl Graham, director of Sutherland’s Center for Self-Government in the West, talked about a recent energy development study; and Dave Buer, director of communications for Sutherland, introduced our Utah Citizen Network.

Read the rundown and listen to the audio here at The Senate Site.


What does the Obamacare delay mean?

In recent weeks and months, many businesses and school districts both inside and outside Utah began cutting employee hours in order to avoid paying fines that Obamacare would require for businesses with more than 50 employees that do not offer health coverage, beginning in 2014. But in an unexpected announcement from the Obama administration, those employees and their employers may be catching a break … at least for a year. All other aspects of the law that have not already been modified by executive action will continue to be implemented on schedule (unless the administration decides otherwise, of course).

So what does this announcement mean for the Obamacare law? At this stage, nothing is for certain, but here are a few opinions on the matter:

The cost of Obamacare to taxpayers will likely increase. Because the “employer mandate” was the primary incentive employers had for providing health care coverage under Obamacare, many businesses will likely hold off on providing coverage for at least a year. But the health care exchanges – and the taxpayer-funded subsidies for health care coverage that come with them – will still be launched this fall. The likely result will be that many who would have gotten health insurance from an employer under the employer mandate will instead be subsidized in the exchanges, increasing the cost to taxpayers.  Read more

How authentic charity care can work for Utah


We mentioned on this blog a few weeks ago that the cost of Medicaid services continues to escalate here in Utah and across the nation. This upward trajectory is not expected to change anytime soon. Although we support the use of block grants to address the Medicaid status quo, an even better solution to addressing the needs of indigent and uninsured Utahns is the concept of authentic charity care.

Authentic charity care is “medical care provided to those in need without cost to the patient and without payment or government reimbursement to providers … [and] relies on the volunteer services of medical professionals and the voluntary contributions of private donors.”  Read more

Defining necessity


I have seen an image going around Facebook that will make you think twice about your holiday spending. It juxtaposes a photo of obviously starving children, holding out their hands, with a photo of harried shoppers with arms and carts overflowing with electronic goods and toys. The caption says “DEFINE NECESSITY.”

Ouch – a punch to the gut. (Even for someone who’d rather pull out her eyelashes than go shopping on Black Friday.)

[pullquote]We should probably choose to give to those in need, whether in Africa or in our own communities, but ideally using the most direct means possible.[/pullquote]Then the devil’s advocate in me whispered: If those women weren’t buying those consumer goods, would that help the starving children? Is it possible that the United States’ huge appetite for spending somehow helps the Third World?

Well, perhaps. Many economists with far more education and experience than I have wrestled with similar questions. The world economy is incredibly complex, and various barriers to free trade certainly play a role in extreme poverty. Two other factors also loom large: political corruption and war. Read more

Turn Medicaid hot potato into a block grant


Source: Governor's Budget Recommendations, FY 2011

Despite the ongoing debt and deficit battles in Washington, our national leaders need to work together to address a political hot potato – Medicaid – to help get the nation’s fiscal house in order. For Utah, implementing a block grant to fund Medicaid is the way to go.

[pullquote]Block grants provide more flexibility to states in structuring Medicaid programs to match the unique needs of their residents. [/pullquote]Let me explain why.

Growing at 7 percent annually, Medicaid is the health care system for the country’s poor and disabled. In 2009, the federal government paid 66 percent of the $380 billion total outlay for Medicaid – which is now the single largest source of federal funding to the states. In turn, the states typically spent 16 percent of their general funds for Medicaid, second only to K-12 education. Read more

Don’t chop tax breaks for charitable contributions


Should government continue to give people tax breaks for donating to charities? Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, thinks so.

In response to more than a dozen proposals in Congress to reduce or eliminate charitable deductions, Elder Oaks testified yesterday before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee that “[t]he charitable deduction is vital to the private sector that is unique to America.” After making strong arguments to support this statement, Elder Oaks concluded with the following: Read more

Stepping up as conservatives to help Utahns in need


While I was waiting for a flight out of Salt Lake City, a young man, waiting for the same flight, sat down next to me and initiated a conversation. I soon found out that “Theo” was headed to meet his mom, whom he hadn’t seen in a while. I also learned he has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. I asked him how his disability was manifest and he said he struggled socially – which I thought was interesting because he had initiated our conversation. He said he used to have a hard time looking people in the eyes when he talked with them. He stammered a bit, almost nervous, but we had a delightful conversation. When we arrived at our destination he introduced me to his mom.

“Theo” lives in Birmingham, Ala., but his divorced parents both live in New Orleans. I asked why he lived away from his folks, and he replied, “Because that’s where I could get treatment for Asperger’s …New Orleans has nothing.” What “Theo” meant was that New Orleans didn’t have any public assistance programs to help him, whereas Birmingham did. Read more