HEALTH

Gov. Cox announces new ‘collaborative’ to slow the rising costs of health care

Nov 18, 2021, 7:35 PM
(Gov. Spencer Cox, at podium, speaking about the new Utah Sustainable Health Collective.  Photo: Pa...
(Gov. Spencer Cox, at podium, speaking about the new Utah Sustainable Health Collective. Photo: Paul Nelson, November 18, 2021)
(Gov. Spencer Cox, at podium, speaking about the new Utah Sustainable Health Collective. Photo: Paul Nelson, November 18, 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY – The governor is calling on Utahns to help the state government find ways to keep the rising costs of health care down.  The state is forming a new group designed to find strategies to improve health care while keeping premiums from skyrocketing. 

Doctors who spoke with Governor Spencer Cox at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda said health care is managed by silos, and not by groups working closely together like people may expect.  For instance, Dr. Mary Jane Pennington with Granger Medical Clinics said pharmacists are typically not a large part in a patient’s treatment plan.

“Pharmacists have not typically been in physician practices,” Pennington said.  “They’re in the pharmacies when you pick up your meds, they’re in the hospitals when we’re prescribing meds to hospital patients, but they’re not in the outpatient setting.”

Recently, Granger has changed their policy to include better collaboration between doctors and pharmacists to help find ways to keep costs down.  Pharmacists have been able to guide doctors to find more cost-effective medications for their patients, and their customers seem to love it, Pennington said.

“It has been so helpful for our patients.  Our patients give scores of 9.5 to 10 out of 10,” she said.

The new collaborative

This kind of collaboration is exactly what Governor Cox wants to bring to the rest of Utah.  He announced the Utah Sustainable Health Collaborative, which will be tasked with finding ways to keep costs down while improving treatment.  He said the rising costs of health insurance premiums is becoming too much for the state and individual Utahns to bear.

“Since 2010, average premiums in Utah have outpaced wages by 17 percent,” Cox said. 

The collaborative will be made up of doctors, insurance providers, patient advocate groups, community leaders and employers who will share ideas on how to meet their goals.  Cox said all ideas will be on the table, including finding ways to ensure people that qualify for Medicaid will be enrolled in the program.

The state is required to match Medicaid funding set by the federal government, so Cox doesn’t expect a lot of political pushback when it comes to lowering costs.

“The job of the legislature is to set the budget, and right now the single-most rapid growing cost in the legislative budget is Medicaid,” Cox said.

The members of the collaborative have not been selected, yet, and that’s where the public comes in.  People can submit their member suggestions and their ideas to healthcollaborative.utah.gov.  State officials hope to form a governing body for this group by the end of January.

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Gov. Cox announces new ‘collaborative’ to slow the rising costs of health care