Utah State Senator, District 6
As chair of the Privately Owned Health Care Organization Task Force, I have spent two years scrutinizing the state of our healthcare system in Utah and in the United States.
The process is like watching a train wreck about to occur.
I have read several recent stories regarding the CEO of United Healthcare and how this insurance company is being investigated by the SEC.
A study by the American Medical Association confirms that health insurers are consolidating market power to the point that they are a virtual monopoly in many areas of the country.
Additionally, I have heard complaints from constituents about a lack of choice in selecting their physicians and where they can receive desperately-needed health care.
They feel they are treated like a number.
Employers are telling me that they cannot deal with the never ending increases of insurance premiums.
And, disturbingly, I have seen examples of what I consider predatory practices of insurance companies and some hospital systems to get rid of competition.
Who will stand up to a system like this? Political freedom means you chart your own destiny. You decide the type of society in which you are willing to live. Are you willing to live under the health care system, as it currently exists?
Some of my more cautious friends have counseled me that it is impossible to stand up to big, powerful industries. I have been pressured to back off. People felt that way about Enron and look at what happened. I have reached the point where I can no longer be silent.
I am in the process of formally communicating with Congress, the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and Health and Human Services. I am calling for state and federal investigations of the business practices of the insurance industry and hospital systems in Utah and in the United States.
I have also met with Utah's Department of Insurance and our Attorney General about potential violations of antitrust provisions in our consumer protection laws. I believe there is evidence that these two large powerful interest groups (the insurance industry and hospital systems) are putting profits before people and that their actions are hurting employers and working families.
Specifically, I believe we have serious problems in the following areas:
- Business practices at insurance companies and hospital systems similar to what the SEC is investigating at United Healthcare;
- Potential collusion between insurance companies and hospital systems to prevent competitors from effectively competing against hospitals;
- Legitimate claims payment issues which hurt consumers; and
- Potential violation of Utah consumer protection laws.