Michael O. Leavitt: Health care reform: Less spending, less government control

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  • Rae M. Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 23, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    To CJB: When our children are adults and wonder where the gillion dollar national debt came from, we can say that it was used to make them well again.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington DC, MD
    Jan. 22, 2011 10:51 a.m.

    King George III would be very proud of America as it is today, because he will say "By golly, this country has become just like Britan when I ruled it."

  • working class Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 22, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    Also, appreciate the Governor Leavitt's proposal is a great big experiment. In the end there will be many casualties - but hey, we all have to croak sometime, why not sooner rather that later? That is, except for those like the governor who can pay for their own care.

  • Rae M. Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 4:50 p.m.

    To CJB: The cost may be shifting to some strong, but it is also shifting to some VERY weak. How is that a good thing?
    Thanks for all your comments, especially civility shown by Utah Businessman.

  • The Sensible Middle Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    Were I "king of the government" I would allow conservatives to repeal Obama care on condition that they also repeal health care for the congress and president, and at the same time put themselves into the bottom 1/3 of income and assets of Americans so they too would struggle financially to be able to get affordable health care.

    Then and only then would I allow it to be repealed.

    What is good for the Goose is also good for the

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    I have read where conservatives say Obama care will be a burden on the nation. Maybe so. However its still the right thing to do. With it all mothers will be able to get care for their sick children.

    The burden on poor families will be less, the burden on the nation will be more. The burden is being shifting from the weak to the strong. From the poor to the well off. From innocent children to adults who can more easily carry the load.

    How is this a bad thing ????????????

  • one day... South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 20, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    While WE are fighting saying what is wrong or right or if the reps or dems are the good guys...REMEMBER that those politicians have a healthcare provided by the government!!!
    So...the truth is that if the old or new health coverage doesn't work...don't hurt these guys.
    We need to find the balance between these 2 extremist "groups"
    I know some of you don't really care what's happening to your neighboor, but one day that person can be you, I hope one day we can work together to help each other and be fair at the same time

  • Utah Businessman Sandy, UT
    Jan. 20, 2011 10:56 a.m.


    I appreciate your thoughtful comments (along with a number of other good posts here), but I think there is another issue we have to consider along with your thought of "partnering" between employers and employees and "we will make sure you are taken care of". Regarding health care for example, I remember waiting behind a customer at a pharmacy--she was reading a book--the pharmacist said, "I have that in generic". The customer barely glanced up from her book and said "oh, insurance is covering it."

    I think there is great danger in the idea of "taking care of you"--I could also tell you some real horror stories about how union workers take advantage of the fact that their contract puts them in a posisiton where they can be extremely inefficient, etc., but they feel that they are "entitled".

    I am 75 and you can call me "old fashioned", but I have a very strong belief that when we all have personal freedom, personal responsibility and personal accountability (including the personal responsibility to provide value to our employer that "commands" rather than "demands" a level of pay), then we are much better off as a nation.

  • working class Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 20, 2011 9:24 a.m.

    RE: wrz "They prefer to let other poeple pay for their healthcare while they enjoy their littl playthings. "

    Increasingly we earn our livings with these littl(e) playthings. And I'm not asking anyone to pay for my care - I'm asking that we all share in the risk.

  • one day... South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 20, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    "Republicans will not succeed in immediate enactment of a new law" TRUE!

    If you don't have a solution, don't change the best option we have NOW.

    Let's see who's the next devil to get the insurance contract! it's all about money NOT health

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Jan. 20, 2011 7:57 a.m.

    I'm surprised that Mr. Leavitt is recommending health savings plans. They work great for people who are in good health, but they are disastrous for people who have, or who are developing, serious chronic illnesses. Besides, health care rates will not be lowered on the individual patient basis. Reform will have to be handled at the doctor and insurer level . We just don't have the time or knowledge to hunt for the lowest rates on medical procedures, especially in an emergency situations.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:35 p.m.

    "First, define contributions, not benefits."
    This benefits the insurance companies, as people are given below minimum help, forcing them to buy policies from business.

    "Second, engage consumers."
    Stop people from paying what they can afford, and force them into more expensive options.

    "Third, give states more flexibility."
    Go back to the 90's and tell people who can't afford heath care to go ask their bishop. Force parents of disabled children to relocate to other states that fully fund medicaid.

    "Fourth, change the way doctors and hospitals are paid."
    get away from fee for service and sell everyone insurance based HMO's.

    "Finally, move toward sustainable expectations." The idea that 75% of all chronic conditions is preventable is laughable, and an insult to those struck down through no fault of their own. It gives an excuse to the insurance companies for denying health care, which is the true problem of our health system. Forcing the sick onto government services, while the insurance companies make obscene profit it the problem. People like Leavitt are the problem, and have been for decades.

    A step back is not what we want. Fine tune it, don't destroy it.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    Utah Businessman.... I do agree, on preventive care, the cost of managing the insurance and medicare billing is overwhelming doctors offices. There is some good stuff coming on that front, but it isn't here yet. To back your point, my mom who is on medicare and pays for increased coverage was denied service because her insurance company had misapplied her payment, and cancelled her policy, despite acknowledging they received and cashed her payments.

    But your comments about technology are way off. The products you mention are all consumer grade. Medical technology is not made in the same economies of scale that consumer products are. You can't have a heart monitor blue screen on you - they are built to far superior thresholds. And while computers may cost less now than 30 years ago, much of this technology didn't exist 30 years ago - such as robotic surgery and nuclear treatments for cancer. You can not compare PCs and iPods with medical equipment.

    It would shock many the capital investment hospitals need to make to bring current treatments to their communities.

    But the processing waste.. I am with you.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:59 p.m.

    America cannot compete in a global economy without healthy people. All countries have access to raw materials, it's the people that make the difference.

    Why hire Leavittt who's political views are far to the business side? A more honest approach would be a moderate that presents the issues, and not their views? The journalists of today are not reporters, but editorial writers.

  • Utah Businessman Sandy, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:13 p.m.


    Okay, I missed a point in your earlier post--the high cost of technology. If the cost of technology is so high, why do we have so many highly technalogical gadgets today that are affordable by almost anyone? Why is a highly technical computer today actually LESS expensive today than one that was far inferior to it 30 years ago? Yet, ANY computerized medical device costs many thousands or even millions of $.

    If you think that high medical costs are mainly technology, call someone like IHC and start asking questions about their billings. I have advanced degrees in accounting, business and economics, so I am not a "dumby" about such things, but talking to IHC about their billings is like talking to a wall--it has been so many years since they have actually been accountable to a patient, that they cannot even fathom doing so.
    I will also tell you something that I learned long before I got to Economics 101. It's MUCH more expensive to obtain something through a maze of politicians, bureaucrats, paper-shufflers, employers and insurance companies than it is to purchase it and pay for it.

  • Utah Businessman Sandy, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    Utah Businessman thinks medical treatment has gotten more expensive because we rely on insurance companies more now. This comment is so lacking in even the slightest understanding of where medical cost are driven. Depending the treatment such as basic preventive care, paperwork and filing expenses are a quit (sic) high percentage of the cost

    You say that I do not have the slightest understanding of where medical costs are driven. Then you go on to talk about the high cost of paperwork and filing in basic preventive care.
    This is a main point of my post. Before we started running basic preventive care through our employer (the payer of the insurance premium) and the insurance company, we took personal responsibility for it and paid it ourselves. Where were those high paperwork and filing costs? They were basically NONEXISTENT.
    Another pointif costs begin rising and YOU are paying the bill, you likely will start making some noise and demanding answers and accountability. But what if someone else is paying the billin this case the insurance company which, in turn, is being paid by your employer? Will you demand answers then?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 19, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    John2000 - your guess wouild be wrong.

    Lets flip this another way based on your example. As an employer, you say you have employees that work more than 29 hours a week, that have no benefits. They are currently left to fend for them selves buying insurance at an individual level if they want insurance. So essentially you have a business that doesn't value its employes, and views them as expendable cogs easily replaced... not meaning this personally, simply that you have low value employees.

    Lets flip this on its head. You obviously identified a working poor class that has low skills and has no way of providing insurance for itself. What then is your solution to cover the cost of these peoples medical needs?

    The issue is that the two options left is either they go without services, or their cost gets carried somewhere else. Since you will not cover them, and the hospitals have to render services, you are essentially shifting the cost from your business to every other insured person who pays for services. Those cost have to be recaptured somewhere... and the conservative solution is to burry those cost in everyone else's bill.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington DC, MD
    Jan. 19, 2011 4:11 p.m.


    "And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that its in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington DC, MD
    Jan. 19, 2011 4:10 p.m.

    JFK blows the horn on the evil Government that plagues our country today in this speech given in 1981.

    " The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it."

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    I would venture a guess that no one posting comments to this article has read the law cover to cover. Isn't that what we faulted all the politicians for? I haven't read it cover to cover, but I have read the parts that my employment requires. Those parts are crap. They make things worse. And they are definitional, not procedural. So, they can't be fixed unless you redefine, which is the same as repealing and starting over.

    For example, as an employer, I am required to provide health insurance for any employee that works over 29 hours a week starting 2014. Guess what? If you are an employee working over 29 hours a week at a business that doesn't offer health insurance, your job's hours will be cut to under 29 hours. If your employer can't afford to offer you health insurance now, they aren't going to be able to afford it in 2014.

    Now, you can work two of those under 29 hours a week jobs and commute at lunch. Traffic in the morning and evening...and now at lunch. Not to mention, we get to spend our lunch hour driving.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 19, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    There are just so many false assumptions in these post.

    For example, Utah Businessman thinks medical treatment has gotten more expensive because we rely on insurance companies more now. This comment is so lacking in even the slightest understanding of where medical cost are driven. Depending the treatment such as basic preventive care, paperwork and filing expenses are a quit high percentage of the cost.

    But when you jump into actual treatment of critical medical conditions, the largest part of the cost is technology. The largest exposure a medical institution has financially is the practice of critical care. And it is not driven from malpractice cost like some want to promote. It comes from maintaining a high level of capability, which is all very expensive to keep at high levels of availability, that drives cost way up. And unfortunately these services, such as trauma care, are often needed by those who lack coverage because places such as WallMart don't provide medical coverage, and these employees can't afford to buy it on minimum wage jobs part time.

    There is such a lack of understanding of our medical cost structure that reasonable conversations become difficult to have.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:34 p.m.


    ... one final point. As you already know I'm sure, 5 more states joined Utah in the law suit against Obamacare. That makes 26 states (more than 50%) suing the Fed Gov now over the individual mandate to purchase insurance. The US Supreme Court will eventually decide on this matter and if the court does rule in favor of Utah and the other states then Obamacare is dead - it can't exist without the forced purchase of insurance.... the unconstitutional part!!

  • Miss Piggie SLC, Utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    @John20000 4:56 p.m.:

    "Who is not getting health care?"

    A substantial portion of the 30 million uninsured are illegal aliens.


    @homebrew 5:02 p.m.:

    "Remember whose cabinet Leavitt served on, George Bush's the worst president in history."

    In two years, when Obama is forced out of the WH we will have a new worst president in history.


    @peter 6:39 p.m.:

    "Chronic degenerative diseases, e.g. cardiovascular dz., OA, HTN, diabetes type II are largely related to a life time of poor lifestyle choices..."

    Take the ability to make choices about ones own life style and what do we have? Dictatorial socialism.

    "...which end up creating over 75% of health care dollars spent, crippling the nation financially and the individuals suffering with these diseases."

    Are you kidding us? If we were all healthy and didn't meed doctors, hospitals, or other health care providers, unemployment would be sky-high.

  • Utah Businessman Sandy, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    Some very important points to consider in all of this:

    1. When we took personal responsibility for our health care (including purchasing our own health insurance), health care costs were kept under control. When we began relying on employer-provided "full-coverage" health insurance (i.e.,every instance of OUR health care routed through insurance paid for by SOMEONE ELSE) and government programs, health care costs began to skyrocket.

    2. The farther away we get from the basic principles of Individual Freedom, Personal Responsiblity and Accountability, the more expensive, inefficient, impersonal and ineffective health care will be.

    3. Any plan of action must always have as its foundation Basic Principles, including those I have mentioned. No matter how fancy or elaborate a building is, if it not built on a solid foundation, it will crumble and collapse.

    4. All of our discussion of how the government should take this, give that, force this, not allow that, etc., is so much "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals" and anything it accomplishes will be of little value in the long run. As Neal Maxwell said, it is like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:28 p.m.


    Your comments are absurd. First of all there is NO 50/50 split over Obamacare. When the bill was forced down our throats a year ago polling showed about 57% of Americans against the bill passage. That number has now grown to nearly 70%. This nearly 3000 page nightmare of a bill imposes and mandates new taxes and policies on corporations (small to large) which start to roll out next year with many more waiting until 2013. Already we see insurance companies raising their premiums in anticipation for all the bureaucracy to come. The promises made by Obama concerning this bill are a steady steam of lies and half truths starting with the lie that you will be able to keep your current insurance to the lie that premiums will actually go down. This bankrupting bill is one of the WORST pieces of legislation ever to come out of Washington according to the Wall Street Journal and one only need listen to Obama ramble and stammer through confusing double talk in one of his many back yard PR meetings to know that not even the president himself understands the specifics of this train wreck.

  • Mr. Bean SLC, Utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:05 p.m.

    @MormonDem 3:46 p.m.:

    "Currently, the country is split about half and half on Obamacare..."

    No, no. The country is split about 65% against 35% for. Why do you thing Americans through out dozens of Dem House members in the last election?

    "Second, survey after survey shows that a person who says he is opposed to Obamacare is far more likely to be uninformed about what is actually in the bill."

    No one knows what's in the bill. Not even the deposed Dem House leader, Nancy Pelosi who tells us they 'had to pass the bill to know what's in it.'

    "The only component that doesn't get majority support is the individual mandate..."

    Throwing out the 'individual mandate' would cause the entire Obamacare law to tumble like proverbial house of cards.

  • Neanderthal SLC, Utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 1:51 p.m.

    "Fourth, change the way doctors and hospitals are paid. We should transition quickly away from the fee-for-service system currently used to pay doctors and hospitals."

    Would someone please explain what the alternative for 'fee-for-service' is. Inquiring minds wanna know.

  • Geraldo Blanding, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    Right on Considering from Stockton. Its amazing that someone has actually risen above the class warfare level and the otherwise mostly incendiary comments on this article from former Governor Leavitt. I like your eight (8) point plan and the fact that youre not hung up on the wealth issue. I think ideas should be considered on their own merit. Having spent over twenty five (25) years in the health care finance business, I can say your ideas definitely have merit!

  • wrz SLC, Utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    @10CC 3:39 p.m.:

    "The governor has some good thoughts, but conspicuously absent is how common people will finance healthcare."

    That's right. He forget to mention that the way alotta folks might be able to finance their healthcare is to get rid of their cell phones, ipods, cable TV, and other such conveniences and use the savings to by a healthcare policy.

    But no. They prefer to let other poeple pay for their healthcare while they enjoy their littl playthings.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    It is interesting how healthcare is becoming a debate over repsonsibility.

    Do we take personal responsibility for our lives, or do we turn that responsibility over to the government?

    The problem with creating a government system is the waste and fraud. When you look at the amount of waste in the government system compared to private insurance you should ask yourself why would you want the government running anything?

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 10:27 a.m.

    Thanks for thoughtful suggestions toward reasonable reform. I think the concepts of flexibility with Medicaid and encouraging medical savings accounts as the basis of private sector payment for healthcare are particularly important points. The medical savings accounts places the consumer (us)more in control of the healthcare dollars we spend. It would make the medical industry and us more responsibile. It is not a perfect solution, but with carefully established and funded they are a major step forward. The Repubs need to be supported to make the right changes now to the failed first effort of the last congress.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Jan. 19, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    Considering's points are valid and key. They are what should have been done instead of Obamacare.

    Unfortunately, both sides of the aisle are in the pockets of the Insurance companies and the Pharmaceutical industry.

    The most important cost-limiting actions have not been addressed by Reps or Dems:

    1) Tort reform to limit punitive damages for Malpractice. I would even go for a "3 strikes - you're out" policy to eliminate bad doctors / care facilities who lose 3 malpractice cases in a specified period of time. This would curb the $K of dollars per month most doctors have to pay for malpractice insurance, which is just passed on to the consumer.

    2) Pharmaceutical regulation - limit trademark protection to 4 years on new drugs, with an additional 2 year exclusive on generic branding. So generics would be available from any source 6 years after introduction. Competition breeds lower prices. Also, the ability to buy from offshore sources, over the internet would bring prices down domestically.

    3) Increased provider (Insuramce Company) competition. In my market, for example, too few home / car / health insurance companies are allowed to operate, where there are hundreds of companies nationwide. Competition!!!

  • chase SL Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    This was a great article, probably one of the most IDEA driven articles I've read on the subject.

    The man talks about accountability and government ration, and everyone freaks out!

    Get a grip Utah democrats!

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:40 a.m.

    Any editorial that uses the politically divisive term "Obamacare" can not be taken seriously.

  • Mike in Texas Allen, TX
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    The most recent polls are showing that the public is warming to the new health care law. In this case conservative ideology is being presented to justify an action that will set the country back, not move it forward. The Republicans have no interest in reforming the Health insurance industry which makes a profit on paying hospital and doctor bills. The Health Insurance industry does not provide health care, and as I understand it the author has a considerable reason to be biased in this regard.

    A vote to repeal is a vote to permit the return of exclusion by reason of a prexisting condition.

    A vote to repeal is to permit health insurance companies to drop coverages without real cause.

    A vote to repeal will cost the deficit a 100 billion dollars over the next ten years according to the contressional budget office.

    A vote to repeal will permit the insurance companies to take as much profit as they can squeeze by limiting their risk.

    Go ahead republicans vote for repeal and we will see how you do in 2012 as the American people consider what they will lose if you win on this issue.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    I love how some consider "talking points" a plan. A plan has actual steps, milestones, measurables. This has none of that other than more political pandering.

    The problem we have is many wonder why American firms are slow to hire, and yet there is little discussion about the fully loaded cost of carrying an employee. The rights idea of becoming competitive it to have everyone one become hourly contractors. When american industry was great, they took care of and partnered with their employees. Through the 70's and 80's, that contract of if you give us your time and loyalty, we will make sure you are taken care of in retirement was broken with pension funds being raided and gutted to pay wall street "investors".

    What once was a great and powerful economy is not being surpassed by others, largely shifting american jobs to cheap service oriented hourly contractors. A firm in the Germany, Korea or China doesn't need to factor in raising medical care cost into their planning or hiring. Here, it has put a huge chill on any hiring. Medical cost exposure is a big inhibitor to job growth.

  • Lave American Fork, Utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    We need to jump on the GOP band wagon so we can compete with more third world nations as well as China. Just what America needs, more 3 dollar a day jobs and no health care. The GOP side of the house and quite frankley many of our above ground LDS business leaders will be able to vacation in total solitude with their boats and condo shares with the money they save on not being required to have health insurance or pay their fair share of taxes because they are creating jobs in some third world country and not fairly supporting the cost of the state run gold courses.

  • Te Amo Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 8:45 a.m.

    First of all our health care system is not about healthcare. It's a way of funneling money to insurance companies, lawyers and pharmacy manufacturers. We need to just copy Mexico's system which provides better medicine and care to all of her people. This is a country where about $300 a year provides medical care to all of your family. To put that in perspective that is about 1/2 of one months pay for the average poor Mexican. Mal practice doesn't just raise a doctors insurace rate and allow him to continue with his mal practice until he can no longer afford insurance, he looses his license to practice medicine. There are no multi million dollar awards to lawyers and/or insurance companies. The injured are taken care of by the state and no one is rewarded by being injured. Medicine costs are controlled and is affordable. Health care for all of our people should not be a for profit industry.

  • homebrew South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 8:37 a.m.

    The house of representatives will vote to repeal healthcare, even though they know it has NO chance in the senate, and President Obama would veto it anyway. 53% of americans want healthcare to remain the same and be improved. The republicans true to form are just waisting our time and money. Funny nothing in washington ever changes, no matter how many promise's are made.

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    Mr. Leavitt:

    Your ideals are high. But what about the poor and unemployed who have no money about health care, unemployed who have been looking for work since the recession began, or who are working again but only as contract employees?

    Do you truly believe that only the privileged should be allowed to go to a doctor?

  • working class Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    Question: Why is health care not payable out of pocket? Answer: Monopoly power by health care insurers and the AMA, and because real wages have been stagnant the last 35 years. Leavitt addresses neither of these factors.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:50 a.m.

    Reforms are needed, but I don't think the Republicans will lead on it. They seem to want to protect the status quo and not the interests of the people. Case in point, as Secretary of HHS, the writer of this column prohibited Medicaire from being able to negotiate drug prices, unlike the VA. The result was significantly higher drug prices paid by the government, and yet the VA was paying a fraction for drugs because they had the power to negotiate. Our health care system is slowly collapsing, and this is enabled by the Republican Party and a few in the Democratic Party who have their hands out. Mark my words on this. I wish Mike was more credible, but his history is a bit dodgy.

  • Craig Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:15 a.m.

    The big secret to the cost of health care is that over 50% percent of all the money spent on care for a person in in their last 6 months of life. If patients are not accountable to the cost of service they will keep ordering services to extend their life by days. We have to ration care based on quality of life and expected outcome. That is what nobody wants to hear or address.

  • peter Alpine, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:07 a.m.

    Genetics play a smaller roll in degenerative diseases, and from my readings in the journals, many of these genetic factors are triggered by lifestyles. Also, Dr's are not trained in health care, they are trained in disease care, which has nothing to do with actual prevention of anything. As long as medicine takes a reactive approach to our health, costs will never improve. And, as long as big pharma dictates the rules of care in medicine, the patient suffering from the effects of degenerative diseases will continue to be the loser.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    Mr. Leavitt talks about the US taking a leadership role. Unfortunately our health care costs exceed those of any of the major countries in the world. But yet he continues to promote the for profit distributors of health care. No one is looking to us as a model in this regard.

    He like many others distort the country's view on health care. I have read several polls and there may be evidence that we want things changed but there is not clear evidence evidence we as a country want obamacare repealed. The focus should be on reform and improvements. I do not see it from Leavitt or the republicans.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:31 a.m.

    How about this concept.

    The House vote on repealing Health Care Reform is largely symbolic as it wont pass in the senate.

    Rather than REPEAL with nothing to Replace....

    How about the Republicans WRITE actual legislation and propose it as a replacement FIRST.

    If it is a decent and viable replacement, maybe it could pass in both the house and senate.

    I believe that the Republicans will find that it is much tougher to write actual legislation than criticize someone else's.

    In the past, the Republicans have shown NO desire for any form of health care reform, so, I will believe it when I see it.

  • Dee Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:30 a.m.

    "We should transition quickly away from the fee-for-service system currently used to pay doctors and hospitals."

    Oh, please tell us, Governor, what should we transition to? You're not telling us you want the Government to tell the private sector how to do it's job are you?

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:19 a.m.

    Socialized medicine is a ponzi scheme that will be riddled with waste, fraud, and corruption.

    Our government is trillions of dollars in debt now and going down like the Titanic.

  • RagnarL4 Tupelo, MS
    Jan. 19, 2011 5:56 a.m.

    "Repeal and REPLACE." This is exactly why Republicans have become increasingly irrelevant. Republicans (both officers and voters) cannot conceive of this simple truth:

    It is not moral for a government (or any entity) to take money from those who have and give it to those who do not have, even when the recipient is very sick.

    As long as the Republicans hang on to the "Replace" portion or "repeal and replace", they will ultimately lose out to liberal democrats.

    In a war of the same idea, those who hold most purely to the chosen idea will surely win. The idea: government medicine. The Republicans want to be have less government when it comes to medicine, but certainly some (that's the "replace"). The Democrats want medicine to be completely government-run. Who do you think will win?

    The Republicans must become the party of total freedom and complete absence of government from medicine, even though sick people are involved, else their irrelevancy will grow until their party becomes completely indistinguishable from the Democrats.

  • My2Cents Kearns, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 3:10 a.m.

    I really do hope that the state creating an expensive multimillion dollar position in state government was not an intentional mistake.

    Leavitt is no longer a representative of the voice of the people and definitely not a member of our state legislators who decide how and when and where we spend our money. This is an outrage the state is using political name dropping to try and push their version of what they think the health care of Utah and the Nation should be.

    The only thing I do agree with is repeal the Obamacare program AND repeal any state planned health care programs that are just as fraudulent and wasteful. Keeping government out of health care also includes state government.

    Utah health care is totally dependent and funded by their act of theft of the Medicaid and Medicare heal care programs that belong to private citizens, not government budgets. All health care is a choice of the people, not government, state or federal.

    Insurance is a free enterprise industry, not government mandated tax. The state has no right to rob working peoples premium paid insurance plans and that include medicare and medicaid.

  • MikeRidgway Tooele, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 12:35 a.m.

    Leavitt and Reform
    Two words that should never coexist in the same lexicon.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:30 p.m.

    I too am against Obamacare. But I am NOT against true healthcare reform. And I agree that Leavitt is NOT an objective observer or commentator on this subject, with his father's family heavily invested in insurance.

    Some doctors and clinics have tried to work out their own payment plans with patients, but have been thwarted by the insurance industry, because they consider it to be their turf solely, like gangs marking fences & buildings like dogs mark fire hydrants & trees.

    One of the main problems is that our birthrates are at subreplacement levels. Even among Mormons, at least worldwide, fertility rates have dropped an incredible 67 to 70% since 1982! Too few babies mean that proportionate to the entire population, we have far more older people. And healthcare costs for those approaching end of life situations grows exponentially.

    As long as we divorce benefits from contributions (but here, I mean births from future financial support, by one's own children), healthcare, as well as all "social safety nets" will become increasingly unaffordable. The system is headed for collapse!

    It is one thing to repeal ObamaCarebut another to come up with a workable system, period!

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    "Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that "health care" (sickness care, actually) is a right that the taxpayers should be obligated to finance."

    Health care didn't exist back then.

    Using your logic, the Air Force is unconstitutional since the Constitution doesn't say anything about the air force nor did it exist back then.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:22 p.m.

    "Mr Leavitt is a millionaire and can afford any price that the health insurance industry offers.

    "How many of us have the financial assets that Leavitt has?"

    And the ugly class warfare rears its head. I didn't care for Leavitt's politics as governor. And I think he lacks the specifics needed here. But I don't covet his honestly gained property. I don't expect him to pay for my medical care.

    Maverick tacitly claims she can't afford health care. Can you afford a big screen TV? Or a new car? Can you afford a nice cell phone and expensive texting and data plan? Can you afford cable TV? Can you afford to eat out or go on vacation?

    There are a small number of persons in this nation who are truly destitute and need help.

    But most who claim some level of poverty or inability pay for the necessities of life (be it food, heat, medical care, or education) seem to have misplaced priorities. They find money for luxuries while demanding their fellows pay for necessities.

    Rather than merely wanting us to sustain life, they demand we sustain lifeSTYLE.

  • Utah Joe murray, utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:01 p.m.

    Thanks Governor Leavitt for sharing your always thoughtful commentary. We need you back in public service again.

  • JayTee Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    Government can almost always take any bad situation and find a way to make it infinitely worse. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that "health care" (sickness care, actually) is a right that the taxpayers should be obligated to finance. Both major parties basically think the U. S. taxpayer has an obligation to support all the needs and wants of all the humans on the planet. Guess what--we can't afford to do that! Also, how dare someone accuse the critics of the "health care reform" bill of not reading it, when those who voted for it didn't read it? Insanity is prevalent in our society, and therefore our government.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:56 p.m.

    Specific proposals:

    1st, get clear on the difference between medical CARE, medical INSURANCE, and CHARITY or even government WELFARE. When we conflate these we cause interacting problems.

    2nd, tort reform. This reduces direct costs while also reducing "defensive medicine".

    3rd, eliminate insurance mandates and let me purchase what coverage I want without forcing me to pay for stuff I don't need. If there is not sufficient risk pool to pay for AIDS treatment or hang gliding crashes, people should modify their conduct.

    4th, encourage private purchase of real medical insurance by allowing every penny of medical expense to be tax deductible. Eliminate the incentive to laundry money through "insurance" plans so as to use pretax dollars for medical care. Drop the use it or lose it requirements.

    5th-Give medical providers extra tort protections and tax benefits for charity care.

    6th-reduce government control and entitlement. People spend their own money with more care than they spend others' money. A lot of medial care is discretionary.

    7th-eliminate mandates for free ER care. Encourage charity, but end the guaranteed free care.

    8th-allow formation of private risk pools to buy insurance.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    10cc, mormon dem, and others argue for a government run plan. I have no real opposition to a government run plan.

    What I object to is having myself, my doctor, or my hospital forced into that plan or forced to fund it.

    Charity is a great virtue. So too are Sabbath observance, chastity, modesty, temperance, and avoiding profane and vulgar language. Were I to suggest government enforce any of these latter virtues, no doubt the liberals would object on the basis of "separation of church and State" or even denial of "agency". Yet these same liberals see no problem with forcing their view of charity on me and others.

    Prior to massive tort settlements and government mandates to provide services that some churches deemed immoral, we had a lot more charitable hospitals in this nation. Locally the LDS ran a couple of big ones. Nationally the Catholics were amazing.

    Government effectively forces churches out of providing charity care, then uses the high cost of care as an excuse for even more regulation. Specific proposals follow:

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    Mr Leavitt is a millionaire and can afford any price that the health insurance industry offers.

    How many of us have the financial assets that Leavitt has?

    I doubt Mr. Leavitt has any preconditions that would prevent him from receiving care.

    Hence, the health care reform that our President has given us. Thank God.

  • TOO Sanpete, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    Peter, you are partially correct. Those diseases are actually highly related to genetics too. People aren't to blame for that.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:01 p.m.

    Mr. Leavitt is smarter than I will ever be; but why a concern on spending now, and not when we were invading Iraq? We can spend money to kill, but not to save lives? I know logic is tricky and can be twisted around to believing a lie-----so I will give Mr. Leavitt the benefit of the doubt and just wonder to myself silently what Mr. Leavitt did while he was back in Washington. Not once did I ever hear Mr. Leavitt concerned about spending when he was in D.C. Not once.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    Mr. Leavitt made a few statements that absolutely make little sense. The first... The Health Care debate will greatly influence U.S. viability as a global economic leader in the next quarter century.Health care's dominance in public budgets is causing neglect of education, infrastructure, research and development and energy development. .. Keep in mind no other major country in the world relies on the private sector for health care like we do and their costs are less than ours on a per capita basis. In other words they have changed to a government controlled system to save money so what model is there in the world which is close to what the republicans want to follow. That right, there is none. There is no substance to what Mr. Leavitt says.

    Another false statement...The truth is that people don't like Obamacare for three reasons: It represents too much debt, too much deficit and too much government....Polls have shown that a small minority want Obamacare repealed and not replaced. The majority want to keep and/or go further with government controls. Shame on the Editorial Board for assisting in misleading the facts.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 8:13 p.m.

    I'm sure Leavitt is not a bit biased.

    As long as we allow the insurance industry to skim off the healthy, leaving the sick and those with existing conditions without, we will have high costs.

    They can inflate expenses because their outgoing payments are small compared to their income.

  • Vince the boonies, mexico
    Jan. 18, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    Leavitt! Thank god he has no power anymore to institute his insurance biased ideas. You all know where this man made his money don't you? Or should I say scammed his money? Right the Leavitt family almost owns Utah from an insurance standpoint. Just let his recommendations roll out in the street because he is a biased man.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:57 p.m.

    Leavitt is correct that the fee-for-service (FFS) system creates bad incentives:

    Doctors make money off procedures, even if unneeded;

    Payers make money taking premiums and stonewalling payment for procedures, even if needed;

    Patients, for the most part, just want to get better, but are caught in the middle.

    A few observations:

    Historically, one alternative to bad FFS incentives has been the HMO that pays healthcare providers to keep a certain number of people healthy, emphasizing preventive medicine rather than incenting procedure proliferation.

    But HMO physicians have difficulty getting rich performing unnecessary procedures, so HMOs dont always attract the best medical talent.

    Low talent = less effectiveness, which = higher healthcare costs. Therefore, HMOs do not necessarily provide better healthcare.

    Everybody will need healthcare at some point in their lives;

    Nobody knows specifically who will need it or when;

    Statistically, actuaries can predict how many in a population are likely to need care;

    The healthcare question IS the insurance question.

    Fundamentally, insurance (healthcare) is NOT and SHOULD not be a for profit endeavor.

    Healthcare has gone wrong because it is treated like a for-profit business, most akin to a ponzi scheme.

    This is not a simple problem to solve.

  • peter Alpine, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:39 p.m.

    Mike gave the solution to our out-of-control health care costs, i.e. make people accountable for their choices. Chronic degenerative diseases, e.g. cardiovascular dz., OA, HTN, diabetes type II are largely related to a life time of poor lifestyle choices, which end up creating over 75% of health care dollars spent, crippling the nation financially and the individuals suffering with these diseases. The majority of these poor lifestyle choices are related to what we eat, and the lack of activity we give our bodies over the span of our lives. The medical journals are filled with studies verifying this simple truth. We must all suffer from one of two pains, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:38 p.m.

    Another problem with the Republican's (lack of any coherent) plan is that two parts of it are at odds with each other. On the one hand, they say individual states should come up with their own solutions. But they ALSO say that policies should be transferrable across state lines. The problems with this are obvious. Someone could get a cheapo plan from some state that goes into the business of cheapo plans (like some states make incorporation easy for fly-by-night businesses). But who has to deal with that when problems arise? The doctors, hospitals, and state coffers where the person lives.

    Of course, it's not unusual for the Republicans to come up with a self-contradictory healthcare plan. The individual mandate, which they are now calling unconstitutional, was invented by BY THEM and proposed as part of their alternative to Hillarycare in the 1990s. And, in fact, they still supported it until 18 months ago, when they decided their only plan for governance was scoring cheap points against Obama.

    ‎"I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates." Chuck Grassley (R-IA). June 14, 2009.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:37 p.m.

    If this just gets repealed, nothing will happen for another generation. I'd suggest we push toward incremental amendments on specific issues, and not imagine that a shotgun approach will get us anywhere.

  • momcani Toronto, Ontario
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    to JMT

    David Cameron is taking a lot of flack for trying to destroy the countries finest institution. He wants to make changes that will put him in history books. (He must be a fan of George Bush) He lied about his election promises with regards to NHS. Shadow Health Secretary John Healey said: This report is a big red warning light ahead of the Governments legislation. The more health experts see of the plans, the harder they find it to say something in support. They are expecting huge job losses.

    I dont know much about Hawaii but universal Healthcare seems to be working there.

    Fine thing for Mr. Leavitt to come up with too little too late.

    One thing is for sure.. its not possible to do as much damage and George Bush did.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:52 p.m.

    It's funny that the GOP is so upset about this recent health care reform passed by the demos.

    In the 1990's it was exactly this type of law that they were trying to pass.

    If it's deemed as socialism now and we all know that the GOP hates socialism, then why were they suggesting it then? Is it because the Demos are now in charge?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:42 p.m.

    We need health care (not insurance) for all. And we can spend less.

  • momcani Toronto, Ontario
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    Every good democracy is build on Capitalism and Socialism. I am shocked that the US health care system is based on not just profit but extreme profits. No one should ever lose their house because they get sick and everyone should have the right to equal care.

    I have a friend who works for an insurance company and the government has been sending them regular cheques for years - they use it it line their pockets, she cant say anything or she will lose her job. The govt is already paying for healthcare but no one is receiving it.

    I am sick of the hatred that is being used by media for political gain.

    What healthcare system would the Savior institute in America?

    While in the US on the weekend I over heard a man telling someone that he has benefits through his work but if he ever gets sick he is dead.

    My cousin who is a business owner is paying 800.00 a month for each of his employees for minimum insurance that doesnt really give them much.

    The system makes sense unless you are in the business of supplying healthcare for $$$$

  • JMT Springville, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:04 p.m.

    This is the problem with Romneycare. You have a moderate Republican insisting they can create a better way of government managing health care. Socialism is not evil because it is the word "socialism." It is evil because people who pay get no say, and people who do not pay get all of the say.

    Intersting that even as we 'speak' the Prime Minister of UK David Cameron is promising to cut government out of management and allow for private industry, primary care physicians and charities to make decisions about health care. The Left used England as the cause celeb for going socialist. And the "socialists" realize it doesn't work and they are trying to Americanize.

    And Mike Leavitt is showing his big government leanings by once again, insisting government do it. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • homebrew South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:02 p.m.

    Remember whose cabinit Leavitt served on ,George Bush's the worst president in history. I'd take anything he says with a grain of salt. The CBO says the healthcare law will save this country around a trillion dollars in the next 10 years. The CBO also says repealing it would cost hundreds of billions. The republicans dont care, they are jealous of Obama's accomplishments and are fit to be tied. They have wasted our time for the last 2 years and will continue to do so for the next 2. We need less republicans not more. They have No ideas or soulutions, they only obstruct and destroy. They are Sucking America dry.

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    I agree sort of. My biggest problem with the entire debate is "it's about insurance." Health care and health insurance are not the same thing.

    If health care for all citizen is what we are after, then let's talk about health care. We already have Medicare (for 65+) and Medicaid (low income).

    Who is not getting health care?

    Don't talk about 30 million people who are uninsured. That doesn't even come close to answering the question. Some people choose not to buy health insurance. Others are on Medicare or Medicaid or a State program like CHIPs, so they don't buy it.

    Who is not getting health care?

    Answer that question and then we can start the debate about how to get them health care. Until then...repeal all the balony.

  • sjgf South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    Mr Leavitt said that we need to "change the way doctors and hospitals are paid," and suggested we abandon "the fee-for-service system currently used to pay doctors and hospitals."

    Unfortunately, after suggesting what we should abandon, I missed his statement as to what type of system would fill the void. The "fee-for-service" sounds an awful lot like free-enterprise, which is what our American society is based on. The only alternative that comes to mind is a socialist system where all Americans pay taxes into a government pot, and the doctors and hospitals all become employees and assets of the ever-growing government to administer health to all.

    Am I right? Is Mr Leavitt telling us we must become socialists: hook, line and sinker?

  • jp3 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    Thanks for caring about health care now that you're not in power anymore. Why didn't you do anything when you and your cronies ruled the government for 8 years? To cry and complain now is utter rubbish for which you apparently feel no remorse or shame whatsoever.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:05 p.m.

    I agree with "Mike Richards" and would like to add that IF the issue would dealt with by the states, there would at least be some accountability via the states' budget.

    Whenever the feds handle ANYTHING they use that credit card that has no maximum amount. Just send the bill to our grandkids, or great grandkids!

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    oh my golly sakes, what have we here?? A conservative alternative to Obamacare? I thought none existed (according to libs)? You mean our own governor Mike Leavitt can draw up some simple alternatives to this train wreck of a bill? Hmmm, wonder how many other governors could do the same thing? But Obamacare was never about solving health care in America but rather forcing total government control upon the American people and ushering in socialism. Get a clue folks!!!

  • Democrat Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    On the homepage of the online edition, next to the picture and link: "Former cabinet member and Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt is the newest member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board. Here, he summarizes his advice on the vote to repeal and replace Obamacare."

    I don't have a problem with an editorialist using the term "Obamacare" but it seems to be loaded term to use in the above manner on the heading. Does the Deseret News refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "Obamacare" in news articles too?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    Mr. Leavitt wrote a thought provoking article that offered some valid suggestions; but, I totally disagree with his suggestion that Congress write legislation dealing with the administration of health care.

    Is the Health Care system broken? Definitely.

    Has the Federal Government been authorized by the People via the Constitution to administer Health Care? Definitely not.

    Because the 10th Amendment clearly leaves to the States and to the People all powers not delegated to the Federal Government, only the States and the People have the necessary authority to administer Health Care.

    Congress must not be allowed to pass laws that force States or the citizens of the States to comply with Federal mandates - when Congress is dealing with an issue that is beyond its authority.

    No Federal plan can be authorized until the Constitution is amended.

    The only responsible action that Congress can take is to repeal that law and then let the States and the People find the proper solution.

    The Founding Fathers were wise in restricting the scope of the Federal Government. We would be very foolish to continue to allow the Federal Government to overstep its limited authority.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    "The truth is that people don't like Obamacare for three reasons: It represents too much debt, too much deficit and too much government."

    This is where you, Mr. Leavitt, and your party are totally wrong. First, the GOP is wrote to imply that they have the majority on their side. Currently, the country is split about half and half on Obamacare; furthermore, a large portion of those who are opposed to it are opposed to it because they feel it is not liberal enough.

    Second, survey after survey shows that a person who says he is opposed to Obamacare is far more likely to be uninformed about what is actually in the bill. When the various components of the bill are broken out and polled individually, people are overwhelmingly in favor of them.

    The only component that doesn't get majority support is the individual mandate--which, of course, the Republicans now oppose, but which was the component that they invented in the first place, and supported almost universally until about 18 months ago. That's when they adopted "oppose Obama even if he agrees with us" as their M.O.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:39 p.m.

    The governor has some good thoughts, but conspicuously absent is how common people will finance healthcare.

    Some portion of the public will adopt the use of Health Savings Accounts, but there is also a large (and growing) group that cannot save the money for these accounts. They realize that providers won't turn them away and thus there is no market mechanism that forces them to save for a rainy day. As a moral people, we won't turn them away. We don't (and won't) have "dying rooms" for those who can't pay.

    Without a mandate, too many consumers will simply put off buying insurance until they have a serious healthcare problem, thus driving insurance premiums through the roof. Mandates were a part of all previous GOP proposals until the last year, when it became politically expedient to demonize Obamacare.

    Absent a Single Payer system (which ironically the absense of the mandate pushes us toward) and without the means to get healthy people contributing to the risk pool, the financial part of healthcare unravels, quickly.

    The GOP (now) has no workable idea on how to solve this issue.