(KCPW News) Former Utah Governor and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt spoke in downtown Salt Lake City yesterday about national health reform and how it could impact Utah. He says something needs to happen soon, but President Obama's proposal for a public healthcare option is too costly and will send the economy in a downward spiral.
"Every American needs health insurance that they can afford. Our country needs to do it in a way that we can afford," Leavitt says. "There are ways this problem can be solved, but it's not turning health care over to the federal government and having taxpayers foot the bill. It's about creating and organizing a system where people have access to a choice of affordable plans. And a government can do that."
Leavitt agrees with many top Republicans that Congress should not create a public health plan. He says the answer to the health care crisis isn't a completely free market system, either, but something in between.
Leavitt also praised health reform efforts underway in Utah, including an online health insurance marketplace that serves as a clearinghouse for healthcare consumers. Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives David Clark, co-chairman of the state's Health System Reform Task Force, hopes Congress leaves room for state initiatives like the exchange.
"The health care needs of a Utahn are going to be significantly different than a health care individual in Louisiana or in Massachusetts, North Dakota. You pick any state you want. We're all a little bit unique in that process," Clark says. "So we need to be able to have the flexibility to put Utah-based solutions to Utah problems when it comes to health care."
Speaker Clark says some of the biggest challenges the state faces in health care reform come from federal regulations. Clark is critical of parts of the federal reform effort, but says there's consensus among those involved in health reform on about 60 percent of the federal plan so far.