Friday, 4 October 2013

Utah WIC Update: Good News Edition

posted on 10/4/2013 by the Salt City Sinner

Good news, everyone!

And in this case, it IS good news: Utah WIC, which as of the beginning of the budget burlesque in D.C. was in serious danger, is (temporarily) saved!

From the same fishwrapper that I recently teed off on about their coverage of this very issue, the Trib:

Utah’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program received $2.5 million in emergency funding Thursday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, enabling local health department clinics to reopen and begin issuing food vouchers to new and existing clients. Clinic staff will begin issuing new food vouchers immediately.  
In Salt Lake and Summit counties, which kept their clinics open with emergency local funding, vouchers may be distributed as early as Thursday afternoon, he added. "This is welcome news for the 66,000 moms, babies and children we serve, especially those who didn’t have food vouchers for October," [WIC Head Chris] Furner said. 

Given the vulnerability of the population served by WIC – mothers in poverty with infants under the age of five – there is no down side to this news. The funding has come through, and at-risk kids will get food and medicine.

Governor Gary Herbert, of course, made some honking noises about how great this is and then weirdly almost claimed the credit himself, saying that “the state” had come up with the money for a few weeks' worth of WIC already before he heard about this new USDA money. Who came up with that money, where it came from, and what they were waiting for to announce this revelation was not explained.

Utah WIC is in danger of running out of steam again if the federal budget crisis is not resolved within a month (the last federal government shutdown lasted 28 days). In the meantime, 40,000 workers in Utah have been furloughed, and the administration (although not payment) of Social Security and Medicaid has been reduced or shuttered.

Senator Mike Lee, in an interview with KUTV2, said that (and I quote) “I'm working. I'll continue to be paid,” when asked why he will not donate his paycheck during the shutdown he helped engineer to a charity as his Tea Party comrades, including Ted Cruz, have done.

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