Low Sugar, High Costs | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Low Sugar, High Costs 

The need for insulin highlights problems with the nation's health care system.

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Low Sugar, High Costs
The Deseret News headline was enough to make you gasp: "Insulin keeps diabetics alive. What happens when they can't afford it?" Well, good on them for drawing attention to this life-and-death issue where diabetics are sharing insulin, rationing it or even crossing the border for more affordable drugs. But this is nothing new, not in our country where drug prices are higher than most anywhere else in the world. No, it's not capitalism, though the stupefying fear of "socialism" prevents positive action. "As long as pharmaceutical companies have uncontested market power to set prices for many patented and generic drugs, those prices will remain a huge problem for Americans and their elected representatives," The Commonwealth Fund, a private health care foundation, writes. Insulin pulls at the heartstrings. But how about that Zolgensma annual cost at $2.1 million to treat spinal muscular atrophy?

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More Up Their Sleeve
Looks like we're in for a fight, but the real question is whether tax reform will get any traction from the public. Fred Cox, a former Republican legislator, thinks he can do what hasn't been done since voters vetoed a school vouchers bill in 2007. The referendum will take some 116,000 signatures. What's the problem? A special session of the Legislature passed a quick version of tax reform, raising the grocery tax and siphoning money from schools. But hey, some of you get a tax cut, too—if you have enough money to pay taxes. The school issue is huge, and the problem with a referendum is that legislators have more up their sleeves, including some scheme for new school funding, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The idea all along was to keep the state revenues flowing. The winners will likely be those with the best lobbyists.

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Fighting the Inevitable
Ask anyone on the Wasatch Front to name the biggest political issue they face. Air pollution and the environment are likely to be high on the list. Now, the Trib cites a BYU study showing that 90% of the dust in Northern Utah comes from shrinking lakes. And why are they shrinking? Yes, climate change. Yet the Legislature fights against the inevitable, pushing forward with the inland port, making it difficult to ban plastics and refusing to force idling cars to stop. So, it should be noted that two Utah women—Cherise Udell of Utah Moms for Clean Air and Carole Straughn of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.—participated in the U.N.'s Madrid climate summit. The U.S. might not be part of the Paris Agreement anymore, and the country certainly did its best to block any good outcome. But Utah was out front at the world's climate summit with two bold activists.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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