To the editor:
The Deseret News' recent editorial in opposition to higher health care taxes is right on target. The solution is not to create an entirely new health care delivery system, but to reform the current one.While the problems admittedly are national in scope, there are numerous ways to improve the situation in Utah. The recent Governor's Tax Force on Health Care Costs, chaired by University of Utah professor Robert P. Huefner, recommended that all participants work to facilitate market mechanisms that encourage "healthy" competition on the basis of price and quality of care.
The task force made detailed recommendations that state officials, industry representatives and the general public should support, among them being:
1. Health data requirements: Collect more timely and detailed data on Utah hospital and physician costs and charges.
2. Mandated benefits and health care market regulation: Appoint a task force to review existing statutes regulating who may provide health care services and who must be reimbursed for services, and to evaluate the impact of those statutes on the operation of a competitive market in health care.
3. Hospital markets: Investigate complaints of abuse of market dominant positions by providers of health care.
4. Health personnel: Increase state support of nursing schools and continue to study and monitor physician and nurse supply and distribution throughout the state.
5. Helping the uninsured and underinsured: Support the efforts of other committees, state agencies, and private foundations which are attempting to expand health insurance availability to uninsured persons and groups.
6. Liability costs: Enact appropriate legislation to address costly physician and health facility liability expenditures.
7. Health status: Continue to adequately fund programs to decrease smoking, obesity, hypertension and substance abuse among Utah citizens.
8. Health care ethics: Appoint a task force to address questions of health care ethics, e.g. prolongation of life by mechanical means, organ transplant eligibility criteria, and the use of palliative "halfway" technologies. Other relevant issues pertaining to cost, accessibility and quality of care should also be addressed.
What is required to improve our health care system is a combination of market forces and enlightened governmental intervention, not a fully nationalized, Washington-dominated program.
Elden R. Mitchell
Regional vice president