Exclusive—Utah Gov. Gary Herbert: Obamacare Block Grant Repeal ‘Vast Improvement Over the Affordable Care Act’

Gov Gary Herbert, other Govs AP

Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert told Breitbart News in an exclusive statement that he supports the Graham-Cassidy plan to repeal and replace Obamacare through block grants.

Herbert added that the repeal plan “is a vast improvement over the Affordable Care Act.”

Breitbart News reported on the rising Republican coalition surfacing around the Graham-Cassidy plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) support the bill, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said that the bill has “real merit.”

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said that he will work with Republican governors to find workable state solutions to Obamacare. Meadows said that “11 or 12 governors” support the plan. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told Breitbart News that the Obamacare repeal block grant plan is “a winner all the way around.”

Santorum told Breitbart News that the plan will be “presented as a solution outside of Washington.”

Breitbart News explained that the plan would allow each state to craft their own plan, which would mirror the effort led by Santorum and other congressional Republicans in the mid-1990s to the only successful entitlement reform in the nation’s history.

The Graham-Cassidy plan would repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates as well as eliminate many of the Affordable Care Act’s taxes.

Governor Herbert served as the chairman of the National Governors Association and the Western Governors Association, and will soon become the next president of the Council of State Governments. Herbert said, “I have a broad appreciation for the role that states have in our federal system to address challenging issues that face their unique populations and demographics.”

Herbert argued during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearings that the best solution for America’s healthcare problems is to devolve health care to the states.

Herbert told Breitbart News in an exclusive statement, “Just last week, I urged the Senate to get past its healthcare impasse by delegating the responsibility to find healthcare solutions to the true laboratories of democracy — our fifty states. I believe if Congress will empower the states to determine their own healthcare destinies that the states will innovate and create practical solutions to the most complex healthcare issues of the day. We will learn from each other and therefore improve.”

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, another state official, told senators during the hearing last week that he supports the Cassidy Obamacare repeal plan. Doak explained, “This kind of leadership and flexibility will provide long-term stability to our markets. If some states want Obamacare regulations, that’s great. That works for them, but that isn’t working for Oklahoma. We should have the opportunity to do something different.”

The governor claimed that Utah has “one of the lowest health care costs in the nation” thanks to its favorable demographics as well as its “evidence-based measures of effectiveness; eliminating duplication of services; innovative use of managed care organizations; and empowering doctors and patients alike to make more informed choices.”

The governor contends that its state-based policies have largely been responsible for its state’s lower health care costs. Block granting health care to Utah could allow the state to experience lower health care costs and increased health insurance coverage, while lowering state expenditures on federal health programs.

The governor’s endorsement of the Graham-Cassidy plan will put significant pressure on Utah’s two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, to back the bill. Sen. Lee will continue to push the bill to include increased flexibility for states to implement their own state plans free of Obamacare insurance regulations. Sen. Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, could lobby the Senate leadership to consider the bill.

Herbert told Breitbart News that he backs the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal plan and that Democrats and Republicans can support returning health care to the states. Herbert explained, “True self-determination of healthcare by the states would mean a block grant of Medicaid and Affordable Care Act funds, with a formula that gets us to funding parity among the 50 states. The Graham-Cassidy bill does precisely that. Although it is not perfect, it is a vast improvement over the Affordable Care Act. And giving more authority to statehouses is something that both sides of the aisle can support.”

Herbert concluded, “Returning control to the states through Graham-Cassidy is both prudent policy and prudent politics.”


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