Inequities in Utah Healthcare

Utah healthcare workers

What inequities do you see in Utah healthcare? What issues concern you? What things do you wish could be changed to improve the patient experience? Everyone has had negative experiences as patients in healthcare and wished that there was a way to improve healthcare. 

Healthcare providers may be concerned about burnout and safety. Insurance companies may have concerns with billing and reimbursement rates. Lobbying provides a way to impact healthcare by educating and advocating for improvements and reform in healthcare.

Case Study: Utah’s Senate Bill 27 & Senate Bill 28 Physician Assistant Act Amendments

An excellent example of successful lobbying in the Utah healthcare industry is the Lockhart Group’s role in the passing of Utah’s Senate Bill 27: Physician Assistant Act Amendments  and Utah’s Senate Bill 28: Physician Assistant Mental Health Practice Amendments.   SB 27 & SB 28.

Supervising Physician Requirement

In the state of Utah, physician assistants were required to work under a supervising physician even if they have been practicing for decades. This was a cause of frustration but it wasn’t until COVID19 that major issues showed how ineffective this model is.

Lack of Supervising Physician in Gunnison, Utah 

During COVID19, some physician assistants were not able to provide care because they did not have a supervising physician. An example of this was in Gunnison, Utah when Wade Anderson, a physician assistant had a supervising physician pass away and was no longer able to practice and serve his community.. In order to continue practicing, a physician traveled hours to come supervise. 

In November 2020, Wade Anderson shared:

“My supervising physician Dr. Dwight Inouye passed away from Covid. I was still not able to practice on my own, and I had a significant patient population that two providers were previously taking care of. I was in quite a predicament.

 Dwight’s son, Dr. Jordan Inouye happily came to our rescue. He was working for IHC in Spanish Fork. He had worked with us several years before and knew we could not function on our own. He aided me with our patients several times a week and helped me as we transitioned to another owner. He has continued to come down for the entire year of 2021 and part of 2022 until our new provider comes in August of this year.”

Luckily, Dr. Inouye was gracious enough to sacrifice hours of his time to travel to Gunnison. However, it was unfortunate that Wade Anderson, an experienced physician assistant could not practice without the required oversight of a physician.

This is an example that shows how limiting it was to require long -time experienced physician assistants to still have direct supervision by a physician. With an increasing population, Utah is in dire need of more healthcare providers. By allowing physician assistants the ability to practice independently within their sphere of expertise, it makes more healthcare options available. 

Drafting SB 27 & SB 28

When working on this initiative, the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants was able to partner with Senator Curtis Bramble. Senator Bramble is passionate about healthcare and also is known for his no-nonsense approach to legislation. We were able to work with him to draft the bills and to work with key stakeholders to gain support. 

Senate Bill 27 and Senate Bill 28 successfully passed and was signed into law on March 17, 2021 by Governor Spencer Cox.

Ongoing Healthcare Costs and Concerns: Utah’s One Health Initiative

As we look forward, the State of Utah is working hard to improve healthcare through the One Health Initiative. The One Health Initiative was started by Governor Spencer Cox in an effort to make healthcare more affordable. Cox said, ““Addressing the cost of health care has become an economic imperative. “Failure to do so will stunt Utah’s economic growth by constraining employer profits, decreasing employee wages, and crowding out other state spending priorities. But in Utah, we solve problems, and we will solve this problem before it is solved for us by heavy-handed federal policy. Let’s come together and find solutions that work for our state.”

The state of Utah is looking to improve healthcare and this can be done by innovative legislation. Right now is the optimal time to initiate change in healthcare and a lobbyist can help facilitate the process. 

How Can A Lobbyist Help with Healthcare Change?

A lobbyist can be a partner in initiating change in healthcare. A lobbyist can help by visiting stakeholders in healthcare to determine which ones support and which ones oppose an issue. By determining level of support, lobbyists can help determine if it is feasible to pursue change. Without stakeholder support, it is extremely difficult to move forward with any kind of legislation. As a lobbyist meets with stakeholders they will also work to understand the concerns stakeholders may have.

Once there is adequate support for the issue, then the next step is determining which legislator to approach to sponsor a bill. You want to make the right choice. You need to find someone who has a proven success record for creating and passing bills. You want someone who understands the complexities of gathering support for bills. A lobbyist can help you find the best sponsor for your bill.

Once you’ve chosen a legislator to sponsor the bill, you will need to gather the support from the legislators. That means working together to create a plan for approaching legislators and their staff about the issue. You will want to make sure that you are aware of the reasons that legislators may hesitate to support the bill.

You will also likely want to do some polling to see general public opinion on the bill. Legislators are serving based on their constituents’ good will. A legislator does not want to risk losing votes by sponsoring something that goes decidedly against public opinion.

Lockhart Group: Experience with Utah Healthcare Lobbying

The Lockhart group has 25 years of lobbying experience and works to help their clients achieve the best results possible. The Lockhart Group achieved success working with the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants to pass Senate Bill 27 and Senate Bill 28. Our expertise in healthcare lobbying uniquely positions us to impact change.We work first with the client in order to establish the need, then work together with them to find the most applicable solution and actions to take in order to achieve this goal. Due to our two and half decades of lobbying experience, we know how to find the right government officials who have the greatest influence on finding a reasonable solution.