Salt Lake City — During October's first presidential debate, President Barack Obama and Gov.Mitt Romney disagreed about many things, but they were quick to agree that Utah's Intermountain Healthcare is an example of high-quality, lower-cost healthcare. The debate was seen by an estimated TV audience of 60 million viewers.
In one section of Gov. Romney's response to healthcare questions, he said, "We ... need to put insurance plans, providers, hospitals, doctors on targets such that they have an incentive, as you say, performance pay, for doing an excellent job, for keeping costs down, and that's happening. Intermountain Healthcare does it superbly well."
"They do," agreed President Obama.
Intermountain has been cited frequently by those from both political aisles as a model healthcare system for providing excellent health outcomes at lower costs. In 2009, President Obama highlighted Intermountain specifically in speeches to a joint session of Congress and to the American Medical Association:
"We have long known that some places — like the Intermountain Healthcare in Utah or the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania — offer high-quality care at costs below average" (President Barack Obama, Speech to Joint Session of Congress, 9 Sep 2009).
"We need to build on the examples of outstanding medicine at places like ... the Geisinger Health system in rural Pennsylvania and Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, where high-quality care is being provided at a cost well-below average ... These are islands of excellence that we need to make the standard in our healthcare system" (President Barack Obama, Speech to American Medical Association, Chicago, 15 Jun 2009).
A Dartmouth Institute report featured Intermountain as a national benchmark and predicted a reduction in U.S. Medicare expenditures of more than 40 percent — with higher quality — if other hospitals nationwide delivered healthcare the way it is delivered at Intermountain. These details were the focus of a recent, nationally broadcast PBS documentary, Money & Medicine, which compared and contrasted medical practices at Intermountain and UCLA Medical Center.