2017 Interim Session – Healthcare Update

Health and Human Services Interim Committee

Healthcare has been a huge topic in national politics and Utah lawmakers have been paying attention. As the Interim Session started and we saw that health care reform would be on the agenda under this committee’s long-term planning, we expected an interesting meeting. However, we were disappointed as lawmakers punted this engaging discussion for later interim session dates (although we were not disappointed to have the meeting end an hour earlier than the rest of the committees!).

That being said, there was a good amount of information that we gleaned from this short meeting!

First, the little bit of information that we learned about healthcare reform. The Health and Human Services Committee will be looking at the long-game when it comes to healthcare. They want to influence what will be happening with healthcare across the country, particularly decisions that are being made at the federal level and how those decisions are implemented at the state level across the nation. In particular they will be receiving reports on how other countries approach healthcare and explore whether those systems could influence healthcare here in the United States.

The staff on the HHS committee shared two resources to help lawmakers them begin planning for these long-term healthcare changes. The first is a report from The Commonwealth Fund, the “2015 International Profiles of Health Care Systems.” This report compares 18 different countries and the various systems of healthcare in their countries, including what countries put into the system and the outcomes that result from the system. That report can be found here. A more interactive resource can be found here. This graphic also presents health outcomes from various countries around the world, and you can also compare one outcome against another to determine whether or not they actually influence each other.

The HHS Committee also began its discussion of several important health issues facing the state. This includes opioid abuse, a topic that has been gripping the nation and which leaders at all levels are trying grapple with. Another topic is cannabis, or more specifically the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Last session, the Legislature approved the use of marijuana for research purposes and lawmakers are now studying whether or not to approve it for wider medical use. The committee will also be taking a deep look at mental illness and how the state’s healthcare system can better help those dealing with such illnesses.

Stay tuned as the committee devotes more time to these topics over the coming months!

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