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State of Utah announces initiative to improve healthcare, bring down costs

Posted at 9:43 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 00:04:39-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The State of Utah announces an ambitious plan to overhaul healthcare. However, Governor Spencer Cox isn’t exactly sure how to make it happen.

Before the state’s top healthcare, business and community leaders Thursday, Governor Spencer Cox unveiled an aspirational initiative to improve healthcare in the state.

"We are seeing healthcare costs go straight up. We are seeing health outcomes slowly go down,” Governor Cox told FOX 13 News.

The “Utah Sustainable Health Collaborative” relies on partnerships between government and business. By 2036, Governor Cox wants to reevaluate the entire healthcare system by creating a collective “think tank” with the ability to move quickly on innovative ideas.

"It combines the best of Utah. We’ve done this in some other areas who had disagreements and found a way to solve it and work together,” Governor Cox said.

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Cox says the state is experiencing significant increases in diabetes, heart disease and preventable cancer despite despite extremely high healthcare spending. The pandemic is also shedding light on significant healthcare inequities, particularly in rural areas and communities of color.

“As a physician, no one needs to tell us that the healthcare system is broken,” said President and CEO of Granger Medical Clinic Dr. Mary Jane Pennington.

Sixty-six percent of bankruptcies in Utah are linked to medical issues. Utahns against Hunger’s Gina Cornia admits too many Utahns are skipping meals to pay for prescriptions.

“I think this is potentially very exciting if, as the governor suggests, they want bold solutions.” Said Cornia.

"It’s very possible that we will fail. But I do believe if this is something we really care about, we can do this. Utah is different, guys. We really can if we come together,” said Governor Cox.

The initiative is expected to take 15 years. In the sort term, the governor’s office hopes to create a collaborative board by the end of the year able to launch new ideas as early as next summer.