ST. GEORGE — When the general election rolls around on Nov. 3, an Independent candidate will seek to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Stewart.
While Salt Lake City resident Dr. Joe Jarvis’ platform centers on several issues including immigration, environment and equal rights, he is most passionate about health care, saying it is the most pressing issue facing Utah.
St. George News had a chance to sit down with Jarvis during a political swing through in Southern Utah Tuesday at Dixie State University.
Jarvis is running as a third-party candidate for the United Utah Party. His previous political identification was as a centrist Republican, but he has since become disillusioned with how the Trump administration and Republican-led Senate is running the country.
“The day Donald Trump was officially nominated in 2016, I recognized the party had left me behind,” Jarvis said. “It was a hard choice leaving the Republican Party. I felt bitter.”
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, he most identified with the politics of Barry Goldwater.
“I embraced what he said. I believed what he said that basically the party was fiscally conservative, in favor of local government, smaller government and internationally that we have obligations. We are the leader of the free world that has allies that depend on us,” Jarvis said.
Goldwater, Jarvis added, deemphasized the divisions in society and opposed racially charged rhetoric.
“This is the kind of view of the world that I looked for,” he said. “It was something I thought I could find in the Republican Party until a racist, bigoted, dishonest man became the nominee for president who doesn’t care for our allies or anything that matters.”
The number one issue on voters’ minds, Jarvis believes, is health care. He supports a version of a single-payer plan.
His attitude on health care has been shaped by more than 30 years as a family doctor in a community health center with patients who had no health insurance.
Jarvis’ medical career spans more than three decades.
His job titles include medical officer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, D.C., state health officer for the State of Nevada and director of medical affairs and special programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Jarvis has also tried his hand at starting his own businesses.
For the past 25 years, he has offered consulting services in environmental health, including problems with indoor air quality, cancer clusters and neighborhood contamination with heavy metals and radioactive substances.
According to his website, Jarvis has clients from Guam to New York City.
Based on his background and knowledge of how government works, Jarvis is pessimistic that a single-payer insurance plan will pass through a split, partisan Congress with a Democrat-controlled House and a Republican-led Senate.
Health care costs, Jarvis said, are exactly what is most concerning to communities across the nation.
“We have a health care system that costs twice as much per person as any other average deloped nation, and yet we don’t cover everyone,” he said. “The dominant model in health care delivery, especially in rural America, is wrong.”
Market-driven health care
Jarvis is not among conservatives and some independents who believe that health care costs should be market-driven.
“There is no market in rural America for health care,” he said. “In some rural counties, they don’t have even one hospital. Even if they did, they could not compete. Health care is not a commodity that is subject to market forces.”
The current market-driven health care industry fails in its delivery system, Jarvis added.
“We have got to stop thinking about the market when we think medicine because they are totally unrelated,” he said. “Market-oriented policies create exactly the problem that we have. High price for care has very little to do with good quality health care.”
The reason the health care industry shies away from preventative care, Jarvis said, is because almost everyone in the chain wants to make a sale.
Not taking away the work of many doctors who invest in their patients, some, including the majority of insurance and pharmaceutical companies, place a greater emphasis on profit than on proactive health care.
“Many are not interested in what is best for the patient,” Jarvis said. “They are motivated by making as much money as possible. If you are a hospital administrator and you want to make sales, you want people to be in the intensive care unit; that is where you make the sales.”
Preventative health care, believed by many as a cheaper approach to medicine, is a hindrance to making a profit in many segments of the industry.
An example of the barriers to health care is the prescription Jardiance, which helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Although the prescribing doctor has good intentions, the cost for a 30 day supply for those without insurance starts at more than $500.
“The industry doesn’t care,” Jarvis said. “They are interested in making a sale at their price, not any price. You get rid of this through a single-payer model and get rid of the market price driven system.”
Independent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed a national single-payer model that Jarvis doesn’t believe has a chance of passing through Congress. Jarvis’ plan is to leave it up to the states to offer health care options through federal funding.
When asked how his plan would be paid for, Jarvis’ answer was simple: “It’s already paid for.”
America has a $3.5 trillion health care budget with virtually all of that money coming from current taxes, he said.
States already raise almost $1 trillion of this revenue, Jarvis said. In Medicare for all, he added, they would give up the state portion of the funding stream, which would cause a ripple effect in costs that would increase.
“This money is already in the tax stream,” he said. “People like to talk about how expensive socialized medicine is and how terrible single-payer is in terms of costs, and this is just flat not true. It is a lot less expensive.”
According to Jarvis, Americans are already taxed enough for the system to provide high quality, efficiently financed health care for every American resident.
“We are already there,” he said. ” We don’t need to raise taxes. We simply just have to simply convert the taxes we have to the proper place.”
In order to achieve this goal, Jarvis believes Medicare for all should not be an option.
“We need to pass a much more simple law,” he said. “Which I call the State-Based Universal Health Care Act.”
This legislation has already been written and introduced in the last five sessions, but it’s never received consideration, Jarvis added.
Jarvis is not alone in advocating that states should run their own domain, including health care.
“We can get bipartisan support for this bill if it is heard,” Jarvis said. “There are states right now that are ready to act. In fact, states have already passed single-payer bills, but they cannot enact them because the federal government is standing in their way.”
This legislation creates a pathway for states to provide good quality health care, he added.
“If we do this state-based, we can afford it, yes,” Jarvis said. “The real question about costs isn’t how much will a single-payer plan will cost, it’s how much will the status quo cost. If we are not willing to change, how are we going to pay for the next 10 years.”
Jarvis said it’s anticipated the cost of health care in a decade will be approaching $50 trillion or more.
Jarvis will speak from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday at Southern Utah University’s Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service in Cedar City.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.