the vision

Access to Affordable Healthcare

It is imperative that all Utahn’s have access to healthcare regardless of their socioeconomic status. Earlier this year Utah’s Legislature and the United States Federal Agency Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiated Full Medicaid Expansion. Under this law:

 

“Utah Department of Health expanded Medicaid to cover up to 138% of the federal poverty level ($16,753 a year in salary for an individual or $34,638 for a family of four). The federal government will cover 90% of the costs of these services, with the state covering the remaining 10%. More than 40,000 more people are now expected to be covered starting January 1, 2020.” 

However, per the Utah Health Policy Project, this expansion comes with mandatory work requirements. This caveat “makes access to health care contingent on employment. If enrollees cannot prove that they qualify for an exemption, they are required to fill out 48 job applications within 3 months, or else they lose Medicaid. While there is a link between good health and stable employment, research proves that good health must come first. Penalizing enrollees with red tape barriers does not promote good health or increased access to employment.” 

 

Other added costs to medicaid eligible individuals include monthly premiums. Although thousands more now have access to medicaid, families who are already financially stretched have an additional barrier of entry. Therefore, we must ensure current statues are met so that our most vulnerable Utahns do not fall between the cracks of the system.

 
Environmental Stewardship

I am a strong advocate for promoting responsible use and protection of our natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices. In order for our city to achieve this, both residents of West Valley and its many partners must utilize the resources available to us through effective research, collaboration, and practical solutions. Analyzing the information from the ongoing West Valley Toxics Study conducted by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality will enable us to use this data in obtaining an estimate of population exposure to HAPs. West Valley has relatively lower income, significant minority population, and potential exposure to HAPs.

 

*HAPs: Hazardous air pollutants are air contaminants, frequently referred to as “air toxics,” that are known or suspected to cause serious human health effects or adverse environmental effects. (The Clean Air Act identifies 187 substances as HAPs)

 

In addition, giving the community the knowledge and ability to participate in various initiatives passed by the Utah State Legislature. To name a few, HB235 Voluntary Home Energy Information Pilot Program which will create an energy report and score for homes that many be for sale. This will give home buyers (and home sellers) a sense of how energy efficient the residential property they may be buying will be and tips for making those properties more efficient if they buy them (such as by using the Wattsmart or Thermwise energy efficiency programs that the utilities manage). Likewise, HB411 Community Renewable Energy Act authorizes a path for Utah municipalities and counties to achieve a net-100% renewable energy portfolio by 2030. Communities will initially “opt-in” all Rocky Mountain Power electricity customers through a local ordinance, and each customer in that jurisdiction will have the opportunity to “opt-out” of the Program. RMP will create a new service agreement (tariff) for the customers participating in the Program that will be approved by the Utah Public Service. Both programs can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help power our homes with more local power. The former will address energy efficiency and the later renewable power systems. 

 

Although collaboration is paramount to reducing our carbon footprint, focusing on the importance of individual action is a vital component to conservation. Empowering our communities to become knowledgeable of how their actions play a part in how we can preserve our city and state. 

Strengthening Educational Partnerships & Opportunities 

As a child growing up in the public school system I often found myself uncertain of my own potential. Navigating school in my adolescent years upon entering a post-secondary education was challenging to say the least. One constant that I could lean on or look up to have been the countless mentors I had guiding me, whether it was a direct mentor/mentee relationship or participation in college preparedness programs. I was fortunate to have guidance by so many who had already walked the path I was on, from a mentor tutoring me with my reading as a child to the Upward Bound Ambassador helping me decide a major of study. I know that without these educational partnerships and opportunities I would most certainly not be where I am today. That is why I believe in strengthening these relationships between all levels of education in order to provide the best environment for our students to learn and thrive. 

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© 2020 by Ofa Matagi for HD 33

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