It's official: Health insurance rates will rise in Oregon next year

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, said… more

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, said… more

Health Care Inc. Northwest
Updated July 1, 2015
Elizabeth Hayes  for the Portland Business Journal

Health insurance premiums will rise next year for the more than 200,000 people in Oregon's individual market — though not as much as originally decreed for three carriers.

According to the Oregon Insurance Division's final rate decisions released today, the hikes affect about 10 percent of Oregonians, those in individual and small group plans.

According to the Oregon Insurance Division's final rate decisions released today, the hikes affect about 10 percent of Oregonians, those in individual and small group plans.

Individual market hikes range from 8.3 percent for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest to 37.8 percent for Health Republic Insurance Co.

A premium for a “silver” standard plans will range from $271 to $389 a month for a 40-year-old in Portland. Kaiser has the lowest monthly premium and PacificSource Health Plans the highest.


Healthcare Financing Study Bill Clears Difficult Hurdle with $300,000

A study first conceived by Sen. Michael Dembrow in 2013 that passed without funding, has repassed with $300,000 in state money after private donations came up short. Support for the study has a bipartisan history, but as a thorough and objective study comes closer to a reality, the political pressure mounts against it. The state money, however, is enough for the study to move forward.

By Chris Gray, for The Lund Report, June 30, 2015

The Oregon universal healthcare financing study bill cleared the top budget committee after a contentious hearing Monday, with $300,000 attached to design the best way of financing a universal healthcare system in Oregon.

House Bill 2828 has been a top priority of Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, as well as single-payer activists, who believe it will lead to their preferred method of healthcare financing system through a government-managed health insurance plan. But the bill specifically asks for an objective study weighing four options, pointedly not recommending any option such as single payer.

The hearing was subject to an array of misinformation about the bill, perhaps the result of behind-the-scenes pressure from the hospital and insurance industry lobbies, which could stand to lose millions if Oregon adopted single-payer. Now, a substantial amount of money spent by government and Oregon businesses intended for patient care is being diverted to industry profits and lucrative salaries for hospital management even at non-profit hospitals.

In particular, Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, who had previously supported an unfunded study in 2013, joined all but one of the Republicans in opposing HB 2828 in the Ways & Means Committee, telling her colleagues she was worried that private money could bias the outcome, since the study was projected to cost twice as much as the state allocation -- $600,000 -- and was relying on private sources for the reminder.


Did you miss the important PNHP statement on the King v. Burwell decision?

Posted by Don McCanne MD on Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 This entry is from Dr. McCanne's Quote of the Day, a daily health policy update on the single-payer health care reform movement. The QotD is archived on PNHP's website.

‘Subsidies upheld, but health needs still unmet’: doctors group

Physicians for a National Health Program, June 25, 2015

Although the Supreme Court has upheld the premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, the law remains incapable of remedying the U.S. health crisis, physician group says

Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 19,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance, released the following statement today:

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies in about three dozen states will spare more than 6 million Americans the health and financial harms associated with the sudden loss of health insurance coverage.

For that reason alone the decision must be welcomed: Having health insurance is better than not having coverage, as several research studies have shown.

That said, the suffering that many Americans are experiencing today under our current health care arrangements is intolerable, with approximately 35 million people remaining uninsured, a comparable number underinsured, and rapidly growing barriers to medical care in the form of rising premiums, copayments, coinsurance and deductibles, and narrowing networks.


Insurance Commissioner Approves Sale of Trillium Health Plan to Centene

In her ruling, Laura Cali said the sale was fair, just and equitable.

by Diane Lund-Muzikant
The Lund Report
, June 24 2015

Late Thursday afternoon, Oregon’s Insurance Commissioner announced that she had approved the sale of Agate Resources to a Fortune 500 company. Agate is the parent company of Trillium Community Health Plan, a coordinated care organization in Lane County.

In her ruling, Cali mentioned that she considered over 50 public comments in support and opposition to the transaction but found “no material or reasonable objections,” adding that the sale would not “substantially reduce the security of and service to be rendered to policyholders.”

Centene Corporation has agreed to pay $80 million for the transaction, and those dollars will be dispersed to Agate’s shareholders – Trillium has 5,000 shares of common stock outstanding, LIPA, 3,000 shares and Agate, 2,000 shares.

Earlier, the Eugene Register Guard reported that the “Oregon Insurance Division has blacked out the identities of Agate’s 217 individual owners and the payouts they would receive under the sale.”

The majority of these shareholders are Lane County physicians and also include Coplin, who earned $492,324 last year. That compensation package included a $96,230 bonus and stock awards of $46,000. The previous year, Coplin earned $366,530. Trillium, which has more than 100,000 Medicaid members, reported a profit of $22 million in 2014, up from $3.9 million in 2013 and $1.15 million in 2012. Compared to other plans, its earnings before interest and taxes were $36 million.

At the end of 2015, Trillium expects to have $47 million in capital and surplus. Agate provides administrative services for Trillium and LIPA – a group of 217 physicians.