Editor’s note: This op-ed was written by Marc Bennett and Andrew Croshaw (from the Chamber’s Health System Task Force) for the Salt Lake Tribune. You can find the original here.
While Utah would not have chosen the difficult dilemma we now face, action on the issue of expansion of Medicaid coverage must be taken to respond to a significant flaw in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Why is this? Utahns are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes in order to fund insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion occurring in other states. While this is neither fair nor right, it is the current reality.
So, what can we do?
As one of the best managed, most fiscally prudent and business friendly states in the nation, Utah should embrace a solution that is flexible and Utah-specific. Our business community and our citizens already benefit from a state health system that is the envy of the nation. The innovations, efficiencies and talented work force in Utah’s health care industry drive down costs and deliver better outcomes for our state.
We need a Utah solution that considers the financial resources of our state and also the health needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Our solution must avoid leaving some 60,000 Utahns without health care coverage. Failure to do so will ensure increased health care premiums for all insured Utahns and for every business in our state, as we all pay for the costs of uncovered emergency room utilization and other unpaid care.
Our community will be healthier and financially stronger as we utilize available federal dollars to provide access to health coverage for the poorest among us. This is both the right thing for our citizens most in need and the right thing for our economy.
We should pursue all available federal dollars to develop a flexible solution that strengthens a competitive, private insurance market, promotes individual accountability by those receiving assistance, and prevents the state from being left on the hook for providing additional ongoing benefits if the federal government becomes unable or unwilling to hold up its end of the bargain.
We believe these aims can be achieved through the innovative approach Gov. Gary Herbert is proposing.
The difficult choices that now lay before the Legislature are complex. Sound economic and moral principles drive good public policy.
To that end, we should advance Herbert’s proposal to keep Utahns’ hard earned dollars in Utah to care for the poorest among us while also strengthening the private health care market.