Sutherland Institute Offers Utah A Path Forward After Obamacare Ruling

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2012

Contact: David Buer
Sutherland Institute
Director of Communications
801-355-1272 (w)
801-657-0756 (c)

Sutherland Institute Offers Utah a Path Forward After Obamacare Ruling

SALT LAKE CITY – In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – a law that most Americans wanted to see repealed – as a tax on every American in the country, Sutherland Institute proposes a path forward for Utah policymakers to protect Utahns from what would be one of the largest middle-class tax increases in the history of the country:

First, electoral politics aside, the Health Care Compact is now the primary protection for Utahns and their families. Utah joined the compact after passing legislation during the 2012 session. If approved by Congress, the compact will give member states primary regulatory authority over health care policy, including the authority to suspend “all federal laws, rules, regulations, and orders regarding health care.” Additionally, under the compact Utah would be able to pursue whatever health care reforms are best for Utah without first needing to obtain waivers (which might never come) from the federal government.

Second, Utah policymakers should reject the federal expansion of Medicaid. The Supreme Court ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to take away existing Medicaid funds from the states if they chose to reject the expansion of Medicaid under PPACA. This expansion would make even more Utahns dependent on a government program that is already becoming unaffordable. Utah lawmakers should stand up and refuse to sell Utahns’ self-reliance and independence for a few federal dollars.

Third, Utah should pursue patient-centered, free-market health care reform under the freedom the Health Care Compact provides. Once congressional approval of the compact is secured, Utah should pursue genuine solutions to health care policy problems through reforms that establish and protect a free market in health care, that get government out of the way, and that give people – not government or insurance companies – control and responsibility over their own health care decisions.

Such policy options could include encouraging Health Savings Accounts (unencumbered by nonsensical federal regulations, thanks to the compact) as the primary way to pay for predictable and reasonable health care expenses, with high-deductible health insurance to help cover unpredictable and disastrously expensive health care events. They could also include requiring doctors and hospitals to make pricing information available and transparent, which would help patients using their Health Savings Account in the free market to search for affordable, high-quality health care services. This would create free-market competition among health care providers, helping restrain health care costs as providers seek to attract patients based on both low cost and high quality.

Finally, the compact would allow the state to pursue authentic charity care, which Sutherland has previously proposed, as the way to provide access for the working poor to high-quality, basic health care services. This policy would include a system of free health care clinics, funded largely through private donations and staffed by volunteer professionals, coordinated by a state-chartered Community Health Foundation.

Most Americans, not to mention Utahns, oppose PPACA and believe, rightly, that it will result in higher costs, fewer choices, and worse care for them and their families. Utah policymakers should stand up and protect Utahns from the harms that PPACA will cause.