Washington » As the nation moves to reform its health care system, Congress should look to Utah as an example of a market-based solution, Utah House Speaker Dave Clark plans to testify Tuesday at a hearing in the nation's capital.
The Beehive State's tweak of its health care system -- based on a market-based strategy, not a government approach -- should be a model that the federal government looks to, Clark says in prepared testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Related Agencies Committee.
"We feel confident that the invisible hand of the marketplace, rather than the heavy hand of government is the most effective means whereby reform may take place," Clark's written testimony says. "The state must be involved in shaping reform, but the government's role should be limited to simply facilitating the necessary changes."
Clark is one of two Utah witnesses scheduled before the committee, which is looking at what the federal government can learn from the states as Congress moves toward reworking the troubled health care system.
Intermountain Health Care's Brent James, who heads the hospital group's Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, also will testify.
James, who is also the chief quality officer at the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, is expected to tell the committee that the key to reforming health care is "payment reform" because if America doesn't fix the rapidly rising costs of care, then any reform will fail.
Clark says in his written testimony that Utah's reform, which comes after years of study, is tailored for the state's needs but that "there are certainly elements of our approach that may be broadly applied."
But the director of Massachusetts' program that mandates individuals buy health insurance -- and providing help to those who can't afford it -- says that the Bay State's model is one the nation can look to as a system that works.
"Perhaps the most important lesson from Massachusetts' effort to achieve near-universal health insurance is to demonstrate that it can be done, here in the United States," says Jon Kingsdale, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, in prepared testimony.
In Massachusetts, he says, the law mandating coverage has been "essential" to insure large segments of the population that otherwise would go without.
Susan Besio, director of Vermont's Medicaid program, says health care costs have grown so much that they now take up 17 percent of the gross state product.
"We cannot afford our current health care system," Besio says. "Universal health care coverage is a key mechanism to help bring down the costs of health care."
President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders have vowed to remake the nation's health care system and the Senate and House are in the process of drafting legislation.