An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday criticized the Utah legislature for not accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid in order to help the poorest of the poor in the state.
State Representative Ed Redd, R-District 4, is a physician and he acknowledges that he sees and cares for people in the “donut hole,” many with the kind of sickness that would cost the most to cover.
“For me, it does address the needs of some people who don’t have any access to any health care right now,” says Redd, “and have some horrible problems, whether it’s substance abuse problems, mental illness, or the both of them combined, homelessness.
“We’re talking about people who are really down and out. I know it’s not perfect. It’s not what everybody wants, necessarily. It’s not what everybody would like to have, but it’s what we can afford within our state budget.”
When asked why the state turned down the federal money from the Affordable Care Act, Redd says it is because there is no way to think that the federal dollars would be sustained when the federal deficit keeps getting larger.
Another issue the legislator continues to consider, along with many other members of the Utah legislature, is the issue of whether or not Utah should allow the use of medicinal marijuana.
Because he is a physician, Redd meets often with a group of legislators studying the issue and Redd admits it is a very complicated problem.
“We are having a lot of discussions about what this should look like,” Redd explains. “How do you get some of the beneficial effects of medicinal marijuana to the people that are, quite honestly, dying and yet not promote it for recreational use?
“That’s a big challenge. If we’re going to call it medicinal marijuana we need to treat it like a medicine and not a drug.”
He says, hopefully, a way can be found to find the balance needed to get marijuana to those who, based on science, really need it and away from those who would use it as a recreational drug.
Dr. Redd says he has also been spending time on legislation where opiates and mental health are involved.