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Feb 6: Community service for Medicaid recipients; Higher education; Egypt's future

Posted - Feb. 6, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.



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In this Sunday Edition, KSL's Bruce Lindsay discusses a plan requiring Medicaid recipients to perform community service. Also the debate over higher education on Utah's Capitol Hill is explored. And a Middle-East expert shares his insights on Egypt's future.

Segment 1: Community service for Medicaid recipients

The Utah House passed HB 211 on Feb. 2. The bill calls for a pilot program to put people who receive Medicaid to work on community service projects. Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, sponsored the bill. Its future now rests with the state Senate.

Would such a plan give people receiving medical assistance a way to retain their dignity or would it be a slap at people who are already down?


We need to find ways to try to have folks on Medicaid give something back to their community, and find a way to return some of those costs back to the community.

–Rep. Bradley Daw, R-Orem


Rep. Bradley Daw, R-Orem, who voted for the bill and Sheila Walsh-McDonald, health-care advocate with the Salt Lake Community Action Program, discuss the proposal.

Daw says the proposal is a policy bill to start a pilot program.

"The problem that it fixes is we have an ever-expanding Medicaid budget. The fact that Medicaid is slowly becoming the largest segment of Utah's state budget," explains Daw. "We need to find ways to try to have folks on Medicaid give something back to their community, and find a way to return some of those costs back to the community."

McDonald agrees cost containment is a huge concern, but says, "This bill will not contain costs in our health-care delivery system."

She explains the bill does not address the entire Medicaid system, it only addresses one Medicaid waiver program, the Primary Care Network (PCN). PCN is targeted to low-income working adults, many of them may be unemployed at this time, who are at or below 150 percent of the poverty level and between the ages of 19 and 64. About 19,000 adults in Utah are enrolled in this program.


This bill will not contain costs in our health-care delivery system.

–Sheila Walsh-McDonald


Daw says the community service would be based on use of Medicaid services, not just for receiving Medicaid.

McDonald explains the primary care network only covers primary care services -- it does not cover hospitalizations, specialty care or mental health care. People on the PCN have access to a physician, four medications per month and things that can be done in the doctor's office. They are paying co-pays set by the state.

Segment 2: Higher education in Utah

State Senate Education Committee chair Howard Stevenson, R-Draper, rattled a few cages last week when he charged that some university degrees provide few job prospects and saddle graduates with debt. His oft-replayed soundbite spoke of a "degree to nowhere."

Sen. Stephenson and David Jordan, chairman of the State Board of Regents that oversees Utah's higher-education system, discuss the role of higher education in Utah.


I support liberal arts education. I want students to go into it with their eyes wide open. Right now they don't know necessarily whether there's a job at the end of certain kinds of degrees.

–Howard Stevenson


Stephenson's comment was made in connection with a plan that would cut higher-education funding for some technical colleges, which he does not support. This was not to be taken as an attack on all higher education, or even liberal arts education, Stephenson explains.

"I support liberal arts education," says Stephenson. "I want students to go into it with their eyes wide open. Right now they don't know necessarily whether there's a job at the end of certain kinds of degrees." He acknowledges it is the student's job to know their future options, but says we can make it easier.

Stephenson says he has been working for 15 years to get colleges and universities to disclose specific information when students declare a major. This information includes: how many students are in the program, how many finish, and of those that finish, how many actually get a job or go on to post-graduate degrees, and what the pay is for those who do get a job.

Jordan agrees. "We should give student good tools to help make good career choices."


We should give student good tools to help make good career choices.

–David Jordan


"Some degrees are more marketable than others and we live in an economy where it is important for us to encourage more stem degrees, more science, technology, engineering, mathematics degrees. But I don't want to slight the importance of the humanities or of liberal arts degrees," explains Jordan. "Not everyone is cut out for stem degrees and we want to have a full range of degrees and we want to give students choice. We want to let people find their own path in life. That's what's led to America being the most productive, most innovative, most creative workforce in the world."

Segment 3: Egypt's future

Protests began filling the streets in Egypt on Jan. 15. Egyptians emboldened by the popular overthrow of the strongman of Tunisia demanded an end to the rule of Hoshi Mubarak. Demonstrators have decried police brutality, restraints on free speech and corruption. They are fed up with high unemployment, inflated food prices and a low minimum wage. Hundreds have died and thousands have been injured in the last two weeks.


(A) coalition will guarantee a representation of major and even minor political forces. No single trend will have the upper hand in a decisive way and this will make making decisions more difficult.

–Ibrahim Karawan


Former director of the University of Utah's Middle East Center and professor of political science, Ibrahim Karawan, discusses the future of Egypt. Karawan is a native of Egypt.

The movement in Egypt, coming on the heels of the popular uprising in Tunisia, has people declaring and even celebrating a wave of democracy sweeping the Arab states.

Karawan says he would be careful to compare the events in Tunisia with Egypt.

"Every country has its own conditions and its own circumstances," he explains. "Tunisia played an important role as a spark, as a triggering event. Egyptians when they saw these things happening in Tunisia they didn't say, 'too bad for Tunisia,' they said, 'too bad for us.'"

The uprising will likely result in a coalition.

"This one will go towards a coalition, political coalition, not one dominant force, but a coalition. That coalition will guarantee a representation of major and even minor political forces," describes Karawan. "No single trend will have the upper hand in a decisive way and this will make making decisions more difficult."

Karawan says the studies indicate the Muslim Brotherhood will get around a 25-percent vote in a free and fair election. He says a free and fair election is possible with international oversight.

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