Because of my profession, I have dealt with a lot of healthcare issues in the state. I now serve as the Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. I feel that I am well-positioned to understand what is good and what is bad about healthcare in Utah. We do many things right with regards to healthcare. We continue to be able to treat patients with much less cost than other states, while still achieving the same outcomes. However, the overall approach to healthcare needs to be fixed. As long as we stay with a fee for a service model then costs will continue to go up.
Medicaid is the 800 pound gorilla in the state budget. Through federal mandates it continues to gobble up a huge chunk of the budget. If the Federal Healthcare Reform Act (Obamacare) is fully implemented as passed, then starting in 2014 Utah will have to come up with $140 million dollars in new money every year just to keep up with the new requirements. Projections are that Medicaid could easily become 36% of our budget in the next 10 years (currently it is 18%). We passed legislation to move Medicaid to managed care: an accountable care organization model which gives medical providers incentives to keep people healthy, thus avoiding costly treatments that come when people don’t stay healthy. This is also a good model to follow in regular healthcare as well.