Utah Gov. Gary Herbert needs to sincerely work with the feds to set up a quality Utah health exchange that specifically meets the needs of the Affordable Care Act. Just offering Utah’s exchange to the feds in sort of a take-it-or-leave-it approach is not acceptable. Utah needs to work with the feds to offer residents what the new law is supposed to provide.
If Utah does not make the necessary changes to align our exchange with the new health care law, the feds should reject it and set up their own exchange as a replacement. But that shouldn’t have to happen. Governor Herbert deserves credit for submitting a plan to the feds. That’s more than many Republican-led states have done, choosing instead to do nothing while actively grumbling about the new law.
Nevertheless, Utah’s health exchange, known as Avenue H, falls short in several ways. It has no mandate to purchase health insurance, no mechanism to control prices, and no ability to move patients to Medicaid.
Avenue H, which is a Web shop for small business employees to buy health insurance with contributions from their employer, is a market-based solution that has potential to work on a small scale. It is clear, though, that it cannot meet the scope of what the Affordable Care Act intended.
We understand that Herbert, and many other conservative political leaders, are upset with the new health care law, which they regard as anti-free market as well as intrusive, but it is the law. It was intended to provide access to health insurance to as many Americans as possible. Avenue H falls short of guaranteeing health insurance to even the middle class. It can’t be Utah’s exchange under the new law.