Joe Jarvis, a former physician and health-care reformer who founded the Utah Health Policy Project, has declared his candidacy on the United Utah Party ticket for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District seat currently occupied by Rep. Chris Stewart, a stalwart supporter of President Donald Trump.
Jarvis was a lifelong Republican who twice ran unsuccessfully for the Utah Legislature. But in 2016, he gave up his party membership.
“On the day our current president was nominated by the Republican Party I realized that the Republican Party had left me,” Jarvis said in a video announcing his candidacy on Jan. 30.
The United Utah Party was formed in 2017, led by ex-GOP member Jim Bennett, son of former three-term U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, and Richard Davis, a former Democrat and Brigham Young University political scientist.
The still-fledgling party holds itself out as a safe haven for moderate Utahns who are disillusioned with the “extremes” of both major parties. At last count it had just 1,863 registered members, according to the state elections office.
Jarvis’ campaign website highlights his views on several top issues, but health care remains his No. 1 public-policy focus.
He is a critic of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, for leaving tens of millions of Americans uninsured and for its failure to reduce the costs of medical treatment and drugs. The retired physician argues instead for a single-payer system to replaced the current structure, which he considers an expensive disaster.
“It is fiscally irresponsible to waste over $1 trillion each year on insurance middlemen, overpriced pharmaceuticals, and other low-quality, inefficient absurdities in our current health care system,” Jarvis said on his website. “A single-payer system will eliminate this waste.”
Jarvis also decries the current administration’s crackdown on immigration and on the obstacles erected against legal immigration.
“We must reduce the burdensome bureaucratic cost, time, and red tape of immigrating legally. This will free up time and resources for our Border Patrol agents to track down the criminals who are truly dangerous,” he said.
Jarvis’ disillusionment with Trump crystalized last summer, he said, when watching a news report of a federal raid on a meat-packing plant suspected of employing undocumented workers. Most, he said, turned out to be in the country legally, with green cards.
“I thought, ‘We have lost our sense of purpose in this country.’ The rule of law was being ignored in favor of some political objective.”
Noting his active membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jarvis said he embraces the faith’s position on abortion — opposition to elective abortions but leaving the decision up to a woman and physician in cases of rape or incest, when a pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother or in the case of severe fetal defects.
“The government should not be involved in such a painful personal decision,” he said on his website.