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Op-ed: Let Utah escape the Affordable Care Act

By Stuart Adams

First Published Jan 25 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jan 25 2014 01:01 am

Washington has made a mess of our health care system. The federal government’s decades-long intrusion into health care culminated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare."

Cancelled insurance policies, higher premiums, deductibles, co-payments, wasteful and confusing mandates and uncertain coverage status are hurting our constituents. And this is just the beginning. The human toll of Obamacare is great and growing.

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We hate to say we told you so, but … as soon as Obamacare was passed in 2010, we knew that a centralized health care system run out of Washington, DC was bound to fail. Trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem created by the one-size-fits-all mentality of the District of Columbia is madness.

The good news is we took steps to prepare for Obamacare’s failure. Utah joined seven other states and approved the Health Care Compact, legislation that allows states to take control of health care regulation and funding – and opt-out of Obamacare. The US Constitution gives states the right to form interstate compacts and move control from the federal government to the states. There are now over 200 interstate compacts approved by states and Congress.

When Utah passed the Health Care Compact, opponents said the federal government could do a better job than states at handling health care. Well, we see how wrong they were. The federal government has proven utterly incapable of managing a health care system that serves current insurance policyholders, much less provide for all 330 million Americans.

The governor and the majority of my colleagues in the state Legislature representing the people of our state believe Utah should be free to come up with the approach that best reflects the needs and wants of our citizens, no matter what a group of "experts" in Washington, D.C. — whether liberal or conservative, progressive or libertarian — wants to impose on the entire country.

Since 95 percent of health care is provided and consumed within a state, it’s better to turn the problem of regulating health care over to the states, which can customize the solution for their citizens based on real-world constraints rather than theoretical models.

The Health Care Compact won’t deliver a single set of mandates that apply to all, from sea to shining sea. Instead, the structure of the health care system will vary from state to state. Some states will choose to push market-oriented mechanisms. Others could remain in the federal program at their option.

All states would be free to experiment with the approach they feel best suits their needs based on different demographics, different provider networks, different insurance companies and different voter preferences. That ability to pursue local variations is a positive aspect of the Health Care Compact, not a negative.

Utah is ready, willing, and able to clean up the mess created by Washington, D.C. Now it is up to our congressional delegation to take the next step.

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Congress needs to give its consent, and allow Utah and the other states that have joined the Health Care Compact with us to take control of health care regulation and funding within our states.

Utah’s delegation in Washington can introduce the enacting legislation and lead the way.

Then we will be able to turn a Washington failure into an American success.

Stuart Adams is a Utah state senator representing Layton.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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