5 Things Utah: Speaker Wilson, Utah bans conversion therapy, Dan Richards

We are building towards our annual event, the 2020 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference, which is now about 10 weeks away!  It’ll be here quickly.

But there is a legislative session to get through first. So, we hear from Rep. Brad Wilson and track a few other policy items for your review in Utah health policy for January, 2020.


With help from Emily Boerger & Michael Goldberg

1. Speaker Wilson reflects on Utah Medicaid expansion fights

Ahead of the first day of Utah’s 2020 legislative session on Monday, Speaker Brad Wilson sat down with Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick of UtahPolicy.com to discuss, among other topics, the legislature’s fights over Medicaid expansion since the passage of Proposition 3 last fall.

Schott pressed Wilson on whether the GOP’s efforts to scale back voter-approved Medicaid expansion were worth the fight given that, save for a few additions, the state ended up in roughly the same place as if they would have proceeded with the full expansion Utahns voted for. While Wilson maintained that the policy is better than what it would have been had the Republicans not waged the fight they did, he was less optimistic about the position lawmakers would be in should the ACA be deemed unconstitutional.

Responding to Schott’s prognostications about the political challenges of taking away something people reaffirmed at the ballot box, Wilson responded, “Yep.”

2. Video: Dan Richards, Regence BCBS

Consumer empowerment is a challenging goal for health care, but it’s become increasingly important as patients enter the system that patients have some system literacy to support their care. Dan Richards is with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss engaging consumers and creating seamless care for the patient.

“The biggest aspect that we’re watching right now is how do we effectively engage the consumer? The best way that we’re going to manage the cost of health care, that we’re going to meet the needs of the Triple Aim — which is increasing the population health, decreasing the cost of health care, and creating a better experience — is to effectively engage the consumer.”


3. Early bird rates for State of Reform expire tomorrow

We are working with our Convening Panel to finalize our Topical Agenda for the upcoming 2020 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference!  This year’s event is around the corner on April 2nd, and things are already coming together really well!

Our “Early Bird” rates expire tomorrow.  So, if you want to save a few dollars over the regular registration rate – a $40 difference – we’d be honored to have you get you and your executive team signed up to be with us at this year’s event!  And, if you want a sense of last year’s event, take a look at the highlight video from the 2019 conference.

4. Utah bans conversion therapy for children

On Tuesday, a new rule went into effect that bans psychologists from practicing conversion therapy with children. The rule came at the direction of Gov. Herbert after an attempted ban stalled in the legislature last year. Licensing regulators added conversion therapy to a list of practices considered to be “unprofessional conduct” for state-licensed mental health therapists. The ban does not apply to religious counselors assuming they aren’t acting as psychologists.

This makes Utah the 19th state to ban such therapies, but the first by a Republican governor with a Republican legislature. The widely discredited practice, aimed at altering a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been linked to suicide, homelessness, and drug abuse among LGBTQ youth.


5. Capretta: GOP on health care in 2020

Jim Capretta’s latest column for State of Reform evaluates the direction of a potential GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Capretta identifies four higher-profile initiatives that Republicans are most likely to embrace as they try to counter Democratic plans.

These initiatives include changes to health reimbursement arrangements, “liberalizing the rules” for selling short-term, limited duration insurances, and new rules around price transparency and drug pricing. From Capretta: “What is likely to emerge is a strategy focused on political messaging rather an actual plan, with an emphasis on the regulations and administrative actions taken by the president during his term. There also will be vigorous attacks on whatever reforms are endorsed by the eventual Democratic nominee.”