Newswise — August 20, 2018 (Salt Lake City) – Gov. Mike Leavitt and Gov. Mitt Romney this week convened national experts for a thought symposium on Utah’s social determinants of health and the state’s national leadership on health care. The symposium was co-hosted by the Gardner Policy Institute and the Orrin G. Hatch Center for Civility and Solutions.

The majority of health is driven by non-health care delivery factors: genetics, social, environmental, and behavioral. Social determinants of health are conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.

“If you want to achieve value-based health care, you have to address the social determinants of health,” said former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary and Gardner Policy Institute convener Mike Leavitt. “We will not change from a fee-for-service to a value-based system in Utah or the nation without having this important discussion and identifying ways to make progress.”

Presenters included:

  • Governors Mike Leavitt and Mitt Romney, conveners
  • Sec. of Health Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD – Keynote on America’s opioid challenge
  • Adam Boehler, Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation
  • Karen DeSalvo, MD – Expert on social determinants of health
  • Michael Good, MD – CEO of University of Utah Health, Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Senior Vice President of University of Utah Health Sciences
  • Marc Harrison, MD – CEO of Intermountain Healthcare

“If we are going to transform the current sick-care system into a health-promoting system it is vital to address the social determinants of health,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, M.D. “Prioritizing health considerations in all sectors and policy areas will help us get there.”

Key highlights include:

  • Utah currently ranks as one of the best states in terms of health care costs and outcomes. To maintain this position, Utah needs to continue to seek innovative solutions that address the state’s changing health care challenges and needs.
  • Non-medical factors, such a person’s social and physical environment, healthy behaviors, and economic situation, account for up to 60 percent of their health. Genetics and the health care system contribute the other 40 percent, meaning person’s zip code is a stronger indicator of their health than their genetic code.
  • From January 2017 to January 2018, there were 662 opioid overdose deaths in Utah, a 11.9 percent decrease year over year.
  • Finding solutions to address Utah’s social determinants of health is an “economic and humanitarian imperative.”

The proceedings of the symposium will be compiled into a policy paper later this year and made available to help local and national leaders make informed decisions.  


The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute serves Utah by preparing economic, demographic and public policy research that helps Utah prosper. We are Utah’s demographic experts, leaders on the Utah economy, and specialists on public policy and survey research. We are an honest broker of INFORMED RESEARCH, which guides INFORMED DISCUSSIONS, and leads to INFORMED DECISIONS™. For more information, please visit or call 801-587-3717.


The Hatch Center for Civility and Solutions is a non-partisan facilitator of innovative, Utah-forged solutions to public policy challenges. Through building and maintaining a strong coalition of stakeholders, policy builders, advocates, and civic leaders, we seek to empower Americans to innovatively solve shared problems through civility, bipartisanship, listening, and cooperation.

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