Jon Huntsman on Health Care
Republican UT Governor
HUNTSMAN: I think the end game, partially is we don't see a government shutdown. You basically see guys who have been able to stand up and talk sanity. But it will be important to see how this is executed throughout the states. You have 17 exchanges that are going to be up and running on Tuesday. We created the first one in the state of Utah. It has about 240 individual policies that can be accessed. 300 small businesses are ready to buy into it. I think it will be a very important experiment this year. Politics aside, we now move into the real world of economics, jobs, and competitiveness. And that means: Does it work or not?
Q: But you can't say, "Politics aside." Many would say, "Look, we want to keep this alive to 2014."
HUNTSMAN: We're going to be beyond politics real soon. And then the real world does take over.
HUNTSMAN: It's disingenuous to just say that you can waive it all the way. The mandate will be in place. The IRS is already planning on 19,500 new employees to administer that mandate. That will stay, and that's the ruinous part of ObamaCare. Mitt, your plan is not going to do anything.
ROMNEY: I said I'd find a way to repeal it. Did you miss that?
HUNTSMAN: It doesn't repeal the mandate.
SANTORUM: Through reconciliation you can repeal the taxes, you can repeal the spending, and therefore the mandate has no teeth because there's no tax penalty if you don't enforce.
HUNTSMAN: We are fundamentally approaching health care reform the wrong way. The $1 trillion bomb means that, over 10 years, ObamaCare is creating such uncertainty in the marketplace that businesses aren't willing to hire, they're not willing to deploy capital into the marketplace. It everyone it has gummed up our system. So what do we do? I say, let the states experiment and find breakthroughs in how we address health care reform. All I want to do is do the kind of thing we did in the state of Utah. We don't have affordable insurance policies today. We got one in Utah: a stripped down bare bones catastrophic coverage policy that young people can finally afford. And then you can start whittling down the high percentage of the people who are uninsured in this country because they have an affordable policy.
A: Absolutely not. The most important thing we can do in this health care debate is talk about individual responsibility, personal responsibility. But I've got another solution for you. The situation in Utah is pretty darn good. We embarked upon health care reform. We did better than Texas, in terms of covering the uninsured, and we don't have a mandate. It allows the free market to create a marketplace of choices and options for people. I believe that once Obamacare is repealed--and it will be--the question will then be, what do we do now? In Utah, we approached cost-cutting, cost overruns, harmonizing medical records, and expanding the marketplace for choices and options for individuals to choose from, without a heavy-handed and expensive mandate that has cost the average family in Massachusetts $2,500.
Huntsman and his administration went on to support a 2007 United Way of Salt Lake City plan which called for a mandate. That same year, his cabinet and others pushed draft legislation that mirrored the Massachusetts model and the United Way plan and included a mandate. When the Utah legislature balked at such a mandate, it was taken off the table. Instead, in 2008, Huntsman passed a reform bill that established a health care exchange for small businesses known as the Utah Health Exchange that left uninsured individuals unaddressed. Huntsman has denied that he ever supported a mandate.
"I wouldn't shy away from mandates. I think if you're going to get it done and get it done right, a mandate has to be part of it in some way, shape, or form. I'm not sure you get to the point of serious attempt without some sort of mandate associated with what you're trying to do. Certainly a market-based approach is part of the solution as well. Nobody likes the word mandate, but without that kind of insistence--that directness, I don't know that you can achieve something this challenging in a short period of time, which is what I think we need to do as a nation."
A campaign spokesperson replied, "Gov. Huntsman studied and considered all the options for health care reform in Utah. In the end he fought for and signed market-based, consumer empowering legislation--without a mandate--that is the model for conservative health care reform. "
We are going to find policies that are affordable, the political will to enact them and, through perseverance, provide a pathway to coverage for everyone. Therefore, I am asking all involved: doctors, insurance companies, consumers and we in this chamber to close the gap on the uninsured by 2012. Let's begin this session by passing the task force legislation to develop a truly affordable insurance policy. But this is not enough. We must connect all people to the healthcare they need. A truly affordable policy and the means by which to connect all people will be done in this state, this year!
It is unacceptable that a young father who works for a small business and wants to buy insurance for his family is denied coverage because of minor ailments. Should eczema or post-partum depression preclude a family from getting affordable health insurance?
What business or family in Utah hasn't experienced rising health care costs or, even worse, had to forgo treatment for lack of coverage? In Utah there are now more than 300,000 people without insurance. That's one out of every eight of us. And many more fear that losing or changing a job may leave them without health insurance.
In a state that prides itself on practical solutions, this issue is crying out for a fix. We cannot wait for Washington's one-size-fits-all plan that does not account for Utah's unique challenges and abilities.
In addition to the children, there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured adults. We must stop kidding ourselves that those who are uninsured are simply not receiving health care. They are receiving care, but they are receiving too little, too late--and typically in settings such as emergency rooms where the care is much more expensive than if it had been provided elsewhere.