Friday, October 5, 2012 | 2 comments

Utah Health Exchange is now “Avenue H” — But Why?

By Connor Boyack

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Yesterday, the Utah Health Exchange announced that it is now branding itself as “Avenue H.” Its current website, exchange.utah.gov, is becoming avenueh.com. But why?

A Salt Lake Tribune article on the metamorphosis offers the reason given by those in charge. Director Patty Conner stated: “For many people the word ‘exchange’ connotes government, and we want to remind Utah’s small business owners and their employees that we are built on free-market ideals.”

“Built on free-market ideals?” Who wielded the hammer, paid for the construction supplies, and poured the foundation? The government. Even the paragraph directly after Conner’s quote in the article obliterates her claim:

The state is spending $190,000 of a $1 million federal grant on the re-branding and outreach effort.

Free market programs don’t spend federal grant money to advertise their services (which, in this case, are funded in part by such government money). Evidently eager to hide its government genealogy, the exchange is aiming to wrap itself in a free market mantle to deceive Utah’s largely conservative population, which may increasingly oppose such a collusion between government and business. Like car dealerships calling their inventory “previously owned” rather than “used” to change one’s perception of the product, the state government is hoping to persuade Utahns to believe, naïvely, that “Avenue H” is a free market solution to health care insurance.

It’s not.

To propagate the myth, Avenue H doesn’t even share its history on its new website. Instead, it talks about the future and what they hope to accomplish—without so much as even mentioning the word “government” on its information page. But a cached version of the old website, hosted on a utah.gov domain, explains the ancestry of Avenue H:

In 2005, the Utah State Government made health system reform one of its top policy priorities. Since then, legislative leaders and senior executive staff have worked together to create a vision of success for Utah… HB 133 (2008) & HB 188 (2009) directs the Office of Consumer Health Services to create an internet portal that will facilitate the requirements specified in Utah’s Health System Reform legislation.  In 2010, HB 0294 included provisions for further transparency.

A basic DNA test shows that Avenue H is not at all based on free market ideals, and very much is a Frankenstein-like collusion between government and private enterprise. As such, its creator should pull the plug on this faulty experiment and stop claiming that its creation is something which it in fact is not.

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About the Author

Connor Boyack is president of Libertas Institute. He is the author of several books on politics and religion, including the Tuttle Twins series for children.


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