Healthcare for Utahns

Vision and Mission:

Our health care system is broken. To ensure a vibrant economy and healthy families, every Utahn should have quality medical care regardless of employer, medical history or income.

Our mission is to establish a high quality, comprehensive, truly affordable health care system for all Utahns.

Health care costs in Utah are on the rise, posing an increasing financial burden to Utah families. Even with health insurance coverage, these costs often become unmanageable for Utah residents. Families in the state face the eighth-highest out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in the United States. Utahns contribute $28 billion to health care annually, with a significant portion, at least two-thirds, funded through taxes. Compounding the issue is that the average Utah resident incurs an additional annual cost of $2,800, alongside existing expenses such as taxes, premiums, and co-pays.

In response to these escalating challenges, a group of doctors, activists, and business leaders collaborated to establish Common Sense Health Care for Utah in 2021. The non-profit organization seeks to address this issue by advocating for a comprehensive single-payer health care plan that would extend coverage to every Utah resident, protect the freedom to choose a health care provider and reduce the overall financial burden of health care.

Utah voters will have the opportunity to consider the proposed single-payer plan through a ballot initiative in 2026.

Common Sense Health Care for Utah
Board Members

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Joseph Q. Jarvis, MD, MSPH
Chair, Board of Directors

“Health system reform is the most important domestic policy problem in the USA.  Health system errors are the third leading cause of death in America.  Health care costs bankrupt 500,000 American families every year, thereby driving the problems of hunger and homelessness.  I can not rest until my grandchildren will enjoy the security of having financing for needed health care through out their lives.” – Dr. Joseph Jarvis

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Emily Bingham
Executive Director & Communications

“Too many Utah families are saddled with debt due to health issues over which they have had no control. Too often, families are faced with the impossible choice: go to the doctor, or purchase food. Individuals often remain in jobs they don’t love just to keep their health insurance, which is often substandard. I’m committed to creating a new way to pay for health care that helps everyone.” – Emily Bingham

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Joyce Gaufin
Vice Chair

 

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Richard Davis
Secretary

“I grew up in a home in which we enjoyed medical services only when there was an urgent need. There was no medical insurance provided through my parents’ employment. Doctors, dentists, and all other medical professionals were avoided if at all possible. I married into a family of health care providers and all at once discovered miracles available to everyone that has insurance and/or substantial financial resources. Through my law practice, excellent health care was always available to my family through employer-funded insurance. Eventually serving as my law firm’s managing partner, I frustratingly discovered the continuing steeply escalating costs of that care.

I am convinced that our current platform for health care is not only inefficient but excludes a huge portion of our population from receiving even minimal care. Our health care system is broken and too many of us have been ignorant of the extent of the problem. Let’s change the strategic landscape to include all Utahans in an affordable system.”
– Richard Davis

 

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Dave Lesser
Treasurer

“The free-market principles that have enabled other sectors of our economy to thrive are not appropriate when applied to health care.  Like all businesses, health insurance companies exist primarily for the benefit of their management and shareholders.  The administrative (business) portion of the US health care sector has grown by more than 3,000 percent since 1970.  It makes care more expensive, more complicated, and less accessible. 

The other industrialized countries in the world provide basic, universal health care to all their citizens.  Their average per-capita costs are less than half of what we spend, and their health outcomes are measurably better than ours.  We could do the same if we redeployed administrative costs into patient care.  That’s what Common Sense Health Care is about.” – Dr. David Lesser

 

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George Groberg
Outreach Committee Chair

“I was a senior partner in a busy pediatric group practice and my patients were skewed toward those with chronic illnesses. It was an honor to work with families who were always willing to do whatever was necessary to help their children get the health care they needed. I also learned much about the financial hardships they experienced, caused by the health care system and due to no fault of their own. I believe that the health care system should be accountable to the people (not the health insurance industry), affordable, accessible and simple to administer. That is just ‘Common Sense.'” – Dr. George Groberg

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Scott Poppen, MD, MPA
Policy Committee Chair

“As a retired internal medicine and primary care doctor, I realized early in my career how our health care system doesn’t give everyone equal access, is wasteful of precious resources due to its complexity, and is unaffordable for many. Although access has improved, the system is still too complex and is becoming increasingly unaffordable for individuals, families, businesses and governments. A complete overhaul of how we finance, and shepherd, health care is in order.  Common Sense Health Care for Utah is the only organization in Utah with the bold vision and courage to accomplish what needs to be done.”
– Dr. Scott Poppen 

 

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Chris Anderson, MD


“In 1981, while working as a petroleum engineer in Bolivia, I found myself spending two weeks in a Bolivian ICU. I was critically ill with Hepatitis A-induced fulminant liver failure. That glimpse into the void led me to reconsider my career path. From then on, I embarked on a journey that included measuring the incidence and prevalence of TB in Asia, developing inexpensive testing strategies for diagnosing TB, volunteering in a Catholic Mission Hospital in the Caribbean for 12 months, undergoing a 3-month internship in London, making several clinic visits in Angola, and completing a 7-year internship and Fellowship in Montreal, Canada Throughout these experiences, I witnessed Utahns and employees of Utah Business increasingly being shut out of access to care. It’s these encounters that ultimately informed my decision to join Common Sense Health Care for Utah.” – Dr. Chris Anderson

 

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Brent Baranko, MD, FAAOS

“The story of a devastated father, grappling with medical debt despite insurance coverage, ignited my passion for studying the flaws in the U.S. healthcare system. It’s unacceptable that in the wealthiest nation, healthcare isn’t universally recognized as a human right, leading to personal bankruptcies due to medical debt. The current system, ranked poorly in affordability and outcomes, prioritizes profit over health. Over the years, I’ve evolved from a silent supporter of healthcare reform to an outspoken advocate. Partnering with Common Sense Health Care Utah, I aim to push for an efficient, equitable, and high-quality healthcare system for all. It’s time to acknowledge the failings of U.S. healthcare and work towards meaningful change.”
– Dr. Brent Baranko

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Steve Walston, PhD

“My professional journey has been diverse, encompassing both academic leadership and extensive experience in healthcare administration.  As a consumer of health care, researcher into health care delivery, and author of books about health care, I am alarmed and saddened by how broken our health care system has become and feel we need to make dramatic changes to lessen profit incentives and help all patients afford better care. I have joined the board of directors of Common Sense Health Care For Utah, to actively explore methods to lower our costs and increase quality for all.” – Steve Walston, PhD

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Sarah Woolsey, MD, MPH

“Health care is a human right. I have been privileged to work in community health my entire career and am excited for the US to advance our care delivery system to all individuals.  Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is critical to our economic success. We are ready to make this move. Let’s lead the way, Utah!” – Dr. Sarah Woolsey 

Additional Contributing Members

Karina Andelin Brown
Andre Baksh
Daniel Craig Friend

Jan Garbett
Christine Helfrich
Mark Hurst

Make a Difference!

How You Can Help

We are a grassroots, people-powered campaign and we can’t do this without your help! JOIN US! You are the key to better, simpler and cheaper healthcare for all Utahns.

Donate

Together, we can create a future in Utah where health care is a human right and everyone has the freedom to live without medical debt. Your donation will protect the health care rights of other Utahns.

Volunteer

Do you have a passion for health care in Utah? Have you always wanted work in the community for a cause that matters? Do you have knowledge, skills, or a desire to help? Then we want YOU!

Create an Alliance

Are you involved with a similar organization who has the same goals? We want to partner with you and work together so we can impact the most number of people in Utah.