The Governor's Office reported this morning to the legislature's Health System Reform Task Force on the responsibilities it was assigned in House Bill 133 to begin the process of health care reform. The Governor's Health System Reform Advisor, John Nielsen, says bids have been opened for a new user-friendly Internet insurance portal, and an office of Consumer Health Services has been formed to select and create information for the portal.
"Our challenge will be to make the portal as user friendly as we possibly can. The details of how that will be done are still under study, but its going to do no good if its complicated and the ordinary citizen can't figure out how to use it. So we are going to have to be really careful in the way it's designed," Nielsen said.
The Governor's office has also submitted six proposed changes to the Medicaid program, including an expansion of the Utah Premium Partnership. It's also begun outreach to identify Utahns eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid, and is working with insurance groups to come up with low-cost insurance plans. Nielsen says these initial measures are a step in the right direction.
"What we are trying to do is make health care a much more consumer oriented process. Get the individual consumer more involved in the purchase of health care and how it is paid for. To do that we have to have the requisite amount of information available to the consumer, therefore this information transparency in my view is an absolute prerequisite to any kind of meaningful reform," Nielsen said.
The Governor's office is also proposing to require college students to have health insurance to enroll. Staff has also drafted legislation to give preference to businesses that provide health insurance for their employees or a health insurance stipend when they bid for state projects.