Gov. Gary Herbert: Caring for the poor the Utah way, with responsibility and flexibility

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  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    March 1, 2014 7:27 a.m.

    Will Utah lead the way? Can it?

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    March 1, 2014 5:48 a.m.


    I'm puzzled by the Medicare example you give. I thought Medicare prohibited balance billing to patients.

    I also wonder about this: when you call around to decrease medical costs, you consider yourself to be a prudent consumer. But when Medicare takes action to decrease medical costs, it's a bad thing, apparently.

    I want my doctors and other healthcare professionals to be highly compensated.

  • metamoracoug metamora, IL
    Feb. 28, 2014 9:19 p.m.

    Kate: the real brain washing is thinking that we need insurance at all or big brother in Washington holding our hand. PS don't doubt my ability to be a good healthcare consumer. Recent gallbladder surgery in our family? Quotes from 3 hospitals just for use of their facility -- not to cover physician & anesthesiologist -- $10500. Spoke with the surgeon who arranged out-patient surgery at day-surgery facility. Total cost for facility, surgeon, anesthesiologist, pathology =$3600 paid upfront on day of surgery.

    A Quaker: Medicare administrative costs may be significantly lower, but so are reimbursement rates. Quick example, due to the nature of what she does, my wife sees only one patient per day. She needs to clear $800 per day to break even in her small private medical practice. Medicare pays $575 for her services, leaving the patient to pay a copayment of $125. Yes, the math is simple. She loses money on every Medicare patient she sees. That is the case for almost every physician/healthcare provider/health facility when it comes to Medicare. And in Illinois, Medicaid doesn't cover the service she performs at all.

  • SLars Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 5:28 p.m.

    Utah can't do it better than the Federal government. Ask anyone on Medicare and Medicaid.

    If our legislature wants to refuse Federal money "on principle" then let them lose their healthcare, on principle.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    "The Affordable Care Act created a gaping hole in Utah's safety net." While I agree with Gov Herberts stance on this issue in general(which is weird for me) I'm trying to figure out how the ACA resulted in people making 15,000 a year or less losing insurance. Those people never had insurance, with that salary there is no way to afford it. It seems to me that the ACA is (gasp) helping people who couldn't afford insurance get it, and in the long run that will help ALL of us by helping reduce healthcare costs at the hospital. Because the way it was meant that anytime you went to the hospital you were paying for your services, plus all of the uninsured people the hospital had to help, but never got paid for.

  • Kate Hutch Kenmore, WA
    Feb. 28, 2014 3:32 p.m.

    I agree with you, A Quaker, but remember that the ACA was a compromise. Universal, single payer coverage with insurance companies cut out of the mix is, of course, the only sensible way to deliver health care to a population, but the lobbyists in Washington and Big Business's ability to buy misleading publicity to convince people to vote against their own best interests have brought us to this place - where, for some odd reason, we turn over 20 percent (or more) of our healthcare dollars to insurance executives so they can get richer. There is no other reason to have them in the equation. None whatsoever. Any citizen who does not insist on single payer universal coverage has been convinced of some untruths and votes against their own best interests. Frustrating to watch, isn't it?
    And that lab in Illinois - Harmon Labs? There is more to that story, I will guarantee you that. That's a classic 'too good to be true' situation if I ever heard one. They might be somewhat cheaper than other labs, but those numbers cited in the letter simply cannot be correct.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Feb. 28, 2014 3:29 p.m.

    Baloney. We want our tax money back. All of it. Please, Governor, stop playing these silly games and expand Medicaid. Why should we use any of that money to prop up the middlemen in the private insurance market? They would be adding absolutely no value at all.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Feb. 28, 2014 1:35 p.m.

    As a raging liberal (Jesus was one, too!), I'm not that happy with the ACA. For one thing, it cuts the insurance companies in for a 20% profit right off the top of all healthcare costs. Considering what they do, versus what the hospitals, doctors, nurses and pharmacies do, I just don't see how the insurers warrant 20 cents out of every dollar.

    Medicare and Medicaid, in contrast, administer healthcare for a total overhead of something like 2 or 3%, which seems noticeably more efficient.

    The best system of all, though, in my opinion, is the National Health Service in the UK. They completely take the profit motive and insurance paperwork out of healthcare, and deliver better care than most Americans ever get for a fraction of the per-patient cost. Doctors get a decent salary, med students get their tuition paid, patients get seen and treated with no premiums or copays, and statistically better outcomes. Plus, uniform professional standards and supervision don't allow the kind of nonsense we sometimes see here in "Medicaid mills."

    The "choice" our "system" gives us is often illusory, a choice between unknown quantities.

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 28, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    Herbert's way is better than Lockhart's way, worse than expanding the Medicaid way.

  • metamoracoug metamora, IL
    Feb. 28, 2014 11:28 a.m.

    atl: and somehow forcing people to purchase insurance or pay a significant fine -- er, tax -- isn't?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    @Stop the Nonsense
    "Look, the law of the land is that every state has to provide care for all of it's poorest citizens. Make it happen. If you don't, you temporarily lose seats in the House of Reps. "

    Because that would be incredibly blatantly unconstitutional.

  • metamoracoug metamora, IL
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    The number one reason healthcare costs so much is because Americans are terrible healthcare consumers. "Oh! We have insurance. We don't have to worry about costs." The money still, ultimately, comes out of your pocket. Here is the most resent example from our family. Quoting my wife:

    Went to Harmon Labs for 6 blood tests. It is an independent, one-woman show; been in business for 30 years; she charges what she considers to be fair.

    Total bill: $85

    Earlier, as I checked out from the doc's office with my lab orders in hand, they offered to make an appointment for me at their lab across the hall. I declined. Later, out of curiosity, I decided to call to see how much it would have been. First of all, no one can answer that question right off the bat. I even pulled rank ("This is Dr. * . . . "). You have to leave a message and someone will call you back. The lady who returned my call was not sure if there would be an additional pathology "reading" charge. Here are their charges, FOR THE SAME TESTS:

    Lab draw fee: $25
    CBC: $98
    A1C: $176
    Lipase: $97
    TSH: $266
    CMP: $343
    Lipids: $164

    Total: $1169 *May require additional fee for pathology

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:53 a.m.


    Sure lets raise the minimum wage, but we'll raise the cost of insurance(and everything else) to pay for that increase in costs

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    Instead of spending all of the money on those that need it, Herbert wants to give some to the insurance agents, underwriters,and other campaign contributors.

    @Chris B So if they have jobs that don't pay very well, just let them die quietly, that's what they get for not having good paying jobs. Of course we can't raise the minimum wage so they could have the money to pay for insurance.

  • Dragline Orem, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    The difference between Gov Herbert's plan and the ACA is that the ACA provides competitive health exchanges while the gov's plan pumps money into the expensive private sector we have now--plans that let insurance companies deny service and up costs with none of the restraints of the ACA.
    This plan's sliding scale, yet-to-be-revealed conditions, and its inability to set up exchanges will prompt the feds to just say NO.

  • Stop The Nonsense El Paso, TX
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:26 a.m.

    I agree with Governor Herbert that the state can do much more with the same amount (or less) than the federal government can. I still can't believe how much micro-management the ACA entails. Why didn't the feds just say, "Look, the law of the land is that every state has to provide care for all of it's poorest citizens. Make it happen. If you don't, you temporarily lose seats in the House of Reps. If you would like our help in getting started, here's a blueprint you can look at. Now get to work!" Instead, the money to be used has very specific strings attached, which make more of a spider web than a safety net.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:26 a.m.

    Missing from this article was Herbert's mention how flexible President Obama was in their discussion. According to the Govenor, BO told him that if he has a better way for him to do it in Utah he is open to that and would work with him.
    Now that's not mentioned here because heaven forbid a Republican can publicly admit how cordial and compromising our President is. When it comes to health care you have one party committed to action,improvement and inclusion and another party committed to exclusion. Good luck Govenor as the real battle on health care is going to be within your own party and not with BO and the fed's.

  • Biscuits and Gravy Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    I think it is essential to accept the federal money, so I applaud the governor to sticking to his stance. If the money isn't spent in Utah, Utah tax payers will not see any savings, it will just be spent in other states. So Utah should claim all the money they can from the federal government when it comes to the affordable care act.

    However, I'm unclear if we should spend so much effort and Utah tax dollars customizing the way the federal money will be spent in Utah, why not just accept the medicaid plan? I guess if we customize the plan in the way the governor suggests it might lead to other states taking more personal ownership in health care and lead to less federal spending on healthcare overtime. I'm not sure where my opinion lies between a custom Utah plan vs expanding medicaid.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 9:42 a.m.

    2% of their monthly income.

    Woudlnt that be nice if all we paid was 2% of our monthly income for health insurance.

    Personal responsibility. It starts and ends there. Its not Romney's, barack's, or Gary Herbert's responsibility to ensure someone has health insurance. Its their responsibility.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    Half measures. I have a better idea. Accept the Medicaid expansion money. Do it now.