Gov. Cox unveils initiative to lower healthcare costs for Utahns

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah Governor Spencer Cox told the media healthcare is too expensive and overall health isn’t improving Thursday afternoon.

For the past nine months, the governor has been working on a plan to try and fix the healthcare system. On Thursday, Cox announced the launching of the Utah Sustainable Health Collaborative. This collaborative will include representatives from every industry organization from insurance, to clinics, to employers.

This collaborative will have four key functions:

  1. Act as a convener and steward as we collaboratively chart the course and hold ourselves accountable to these goals.
  2. To serve as a site for innovation through pilot initiatives. The center will united the efforts of many.
  3. This collaborative will provide the support to providers that will allow them to make the changes they need or want to make.
  4. Collectively recommend policy changes that will remove barriers to improving health.

The collaborative will also have three main goals:

  1. Lower healthcare costs
  2. Improve health outcomes
  3. Close the gap between those who have access to healthcare to those who do not

Cox continued that the collaborative will be “at the crossroads” of developing a 15-year-long plan for healthcare sustainability.

While the collaboration of the group and how it would work to accomplish its mission wasn’t immediately clear, Cox stated it would be “much bigger and more effective than a think-tank.”

“This isn’t a bunch of people in a room, thinking together,” he continued. “It’s a coordinated center for action. It will be a workshop environment that builds and improves effective health delivery models.”

Some examples of potential projects that the collaborative could work on, as mentioned by Cox include working on integrating behavioral and physical health, addressing the opioid epidemic, and improving healthcare access in rural areas, among others.

Changes won’t come immediately, as Cox added that the group will proceed “thoughtfully.”

Many members of the large-scale group efforts spoke of how working together would impact their respective fields and organizations, each other, and the state as a whole. Speakers included representatives from the Larry H. Miller Group, University of Utah Health, the Utah Department of Health, Intermountain Healthcare, and many others from a selection of the state’s most prominent organizations.

The magnitude of the announcement was perhaps best captured by the collaborative’s chief innovation officer, Rich Saunders.

“What happens next? What are we going to do now? One thing is for sure, we’re not going to go back to our organizations and back to our homes and be the same,” Saunders stated. “We are going to change the world in Utah and it’s going to happen at the hands of the people here in this room and at the hands of those who are listening virtually and those that are interested and engaged in this work.”

The plan is to have a team put together by January and launch initiatives by June or July.

The state also has a website up where people can share their ideas on how to help change the health system in Utah. The public can also recommend people for the collaborative. That website is healthcollaborative.utah.gov.

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