This year's election could have put the state on the cutting edge for a revolution of change, but it's business as usual, and for the social services and health industry that spells disaster, the state's Democratic chairman said.
Randy Horiuchi said, "We had the sense to vote the initiatives down, but what the initiatives did to the elections was bad. At a time when things must happen to make the state great, the election shifted to taxes and taxes only. Social services and health care issues were not even addressed. That made me literally ill."Horiuchi was one of several speakers at the "Understanding Alzheimer's Disease" seminar Tuesday at the Excelsior Hotel. He addressed the political issues involving long term care for patients with Alzheimer's.
Most Utahns said in polls that they wanted new legislative leadership, but only five incumbents in 100 legislators changed last week, he said.
"It would have been great if it were different, but it is not. It is status quo. Now we really have to work to keep our head above water and take legal action if necessary."
Horiuchi said the health care profession may have to file suit against the state to survive and could do so because the state is not making its one to three match with Medicaid.
The federal government has set up strict guidelines and the state has to hold up their end of the bargain, he said. There are strings attached.
This year the state faces a $10 million shortfall, money that is needed to match federal Medicaid dollars. The state will lose $31 million in federal funding from the Medicaid budget if the match isn't made, he said.
Horiuchi said one giant class action suit with the health care profession as the plaintiff would be likely on the basis that the state is shirking its Medicaid requirements based on federal statute.
"That may be our only alternative. I'm convinced if we go against the state, we will kick their butts," he said.
Horiuchi also expressed concern about the legislature and Gov. Norm Bangerter's proposed six-point tax plan.
"The next two legislative sessions are going to be as austere as you have ever seen. The six-point tax plan will do nothing but harm all of us."
He encouraged the group to meet with legislators and talk to them about their concerns.
"The life of those involved in health care revolves around Capital Hill," he said. "If you are not represented there nothing will happen.
"Invite them to come visit your facilities. You've got to get active and get more bucks from everybody's sides of compassion. We have had the most conservative leadership in the history of the galaxy. They do not care that much about helping us."
Now is the time for everyone to pull together, he said. "If you care about people, you care about the future of the social services and health industry."
The seminar was sponsored by Care West Orem Nursing Center, Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center and the Utah State Hospital.