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Health Care for All Oregon is a grassroots coalition of over 100 organizations that are determined to create a better way of financing health care for every person who lives or works in Oregon.  Our mission is to provide publicly funded, privately delivered, high quality, affordable, universal health care to everyone. People will be free to choose their medical provider to give them the care that they need, free to choose their career, job, and time of retirement independent of health care costs.  We believe that health care is a human right.  The care we receive should not be dependent on what we can afford.  It is time we joined the rest of the free world and provided ourselves with publicly funded health care just like we do for education, libraries, fire fighters, and police.

Subsidies key defect in Obamacare

OpEd by Paul F. deLespinasse, Ph.D
Statesman Journal, November 20, 2014

Two medical stories headlined recent Oregon newspapers: one local but with national implications, the other national with local implications. A common denominator lies beneath both stories.

In Oregon, thousands of people got inflated tax credits when buying insurance through the Obamacare exchange. Some people might have to pay more than $1,000 back to the federal government.

The national news was the death of Thomas Duncan and infection of several people who treated him. Duncan was sent home when he first visited a Texas hospital's emergency room, despite highly suspicious symptoms.

Obamacare may have been a step in the right direction, but both news stories illustrate its inadequacy. Partly due to refusal by many states (including Texas) to expand Medicaid, tens of millions remain uninsured. And Obamacare doesn't cover foreign visitors and resident aliens.

Liberian Thomas Duncan had no insurance.

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AMA Med Students Back State Laws to Achieve Universal Health Care

OpEd News: Life Arts Nov. 18, 2014

My guest today is second-year medical student, Brad Zehr. Welcome to OpEdNews, Brad. Something very interesting happened at the AMA (American Medical Association) recently. What can you tell us about it?

BZ: The Medical Student Section of the AMA adopted a resolution at the Interim AMA meeting in Dallas expressing support for innovative state legislation to achieve universal health care, including but not limited to single-payer health insurance. The reason this policy item was particularly high-profile and groundbreaking was because it is the first instance of any section of the AMA adopting policy in support of single-payer health insurance. Although the Medical Student Section (MSS) is only one of ten sections of the AMA, and although this resolution pertains only to the MSS and not the full AMA, the resolution signals a generational shift in organized medicine's approach to health care reform.

Historically, the AMA has explicitly opposed any forms of single-payer, including opposition to the creation of U.S. Medicare in 1965. The AMA House of Delegates (HOD), which is the highest policy-making body of the AMA and includes representation from all of the AMA sub-sections and from state medical societies and medical specialty societies, still has three policies stating express opposition to single-payer health insurance in the U.S. The MSS boldly voiced support for single-payer despite the HOD's continued hypersensitivity to single-payer.

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Open Enrollment Begins, Oregonians Must Re-Enroll

ABC News, Nov 14, 2014
by GOSIA WOZNIACKA Associated Press

Oregon's health insurance marketplace will be in a unique position: because of the switch to the federal portal, all Oregonians who previously enrolled in private health insurance will have to re-enroll via HealthCare.Gov to keep their coverage. That's in addition to uninsured Oregonians who will apply for the first time.

Oregon residents who already are covered cannot automatically roll over to the same or similar plan as the one they had last year — as people in other states who relied on the federal exchange last year can elect to do.

Altogether some 300,000 Oregonians could be enrolling in via HealthCare.Gov starting this weekend — 105,000 who enrolled through the state exchange last year and about 202,000 who remain uninsured according to a recent study.

That means there likely will be a lot more scrutiny of the various plans offered by 15 insurance carriers in Oregon, officials said.

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Too High a Price: Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs in the United States

The Commonwealth Fund
November 2014
by Sara R. Collins, Petra W. Rasmussen, Michelle M. Doty, and Sophie Beutel

Abstract
Whethe they have health insurance through an employer or buy it on their own, Americans are paying more out-of-pocket for health care now than they did in the past decade. A Commonwealth Fund survey fielded in the fall of 2014 asked consumers about these costs. More than one of five 19-to-64-year-old adults who were insured all year spent 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs, not including premiums, and 13 percent spent 10 percent or more. Adults with low incomes had the highest rates of steep out-of-pocket costs. About three of five privately insured adults with low incomes and half of those with moderate incomes reported that their deductibles are difficult to afford. Two of five adults with private insurance who had high deductibles relative to their income said they had delayed needed care because of the deductible.

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Intel Executive Shares Personal Health Tragicomedy

Eric Dishman discussed his battle with kidney cancer when he keynoted the annual symposium sponsored by the Oregon Medical Association and OCHIN on Wednesday.

bt Jan Johnson for The Lund Report
Nov. 13, 2014

Eric Dishman, general manager of Intel's Health Strategy & Solutions Group, told participants at OCHIN and Oregon Medical Association’s annual symposium his “personal health tragicomedy.” It began in 1989 when he was 19, training for a marathon and a student at the University of North Carolina. Fainting spells turned into a diagnosis of kidney cancer – and a prognosis of one year to live.

His doctors argued over whether his cancer was the type that usually affects “kids or coots,” and he learned how the system wants to put all patients into a single box that determines the course of their medical journey forever.

“Egos and emotions matter,” Dishman found, with doctors thinking of him as “an article or two,” and starting him on what turned into 17 rounds of chemotherapy and a painkilling regime sending him on his way to “becoming an addict.”

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Health insurers win midterm election!

Commentary: stock prices climb as companies target changes in Affordable Health Care Act

by Wendell Potter
The Center for Public Integrity, Nov. 10, 2014

Republicans weren’t the only big winners in last Tuesday’s election. So were health insurance companies, many of which spent heavily to influence the outcome. 

There are several provisions of the Affordable Care Act that the insurance industry would like the next Congress to change. If insurers get what they want — and with the GOP in control of both houses of Congress, it’s a decent bet they will — Wall Street will be exuberant indeed.

Just the anticipation of what a Republican controlled Congress might be able to pull off has put insurance company shareholders in good humor. Within 24 hours of knowing that Mitch McConnell would replace Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader, investors were active buyers of health insurance stock. In fact, the share prices of five of the six largest for-profit health insurers — Cigna, Health Net, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and WellPoint/Anthem — reached their highest points in a year last Wednesday. Some even reached historic highs. Aetna was the only one that fell short of reaching a 52-week high, but only by pocket change.

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As health insurance networks get skinnier, consumers must get savvier: 2015 Health Insurance Guide

The Oregonian
By Nick Budnick
November 07, 2014

Matt Mastrantuono, 28, describes himself as "someone who uses their health insurance more than they want to."

But the self-employed Portland filmmaker thought he was good to go when open enrollment closed for 2014. He'd purchased a Health Net policy for $237 a month that featured a mere $100 deductible before coverage kicks in and a $1,000 cap on his out-of-pocket expenses.

Laura Cali, Oregon's Insurance Commissioner, oversees insurance companies in a chaotic time for health coverage. Shown in Northeast Portland on Oct. 31, she is leading discussions with insurers to increase consumer access to information about health plan networks, which are getting increasingly narrow and restricted as the federal health care law takes hold. (Mark Graves / The Oregonian)

Laura Cali, Oregon's Insurance Commissioner, oversees insurance companies in a chaotic time for health coverage. Shown in Northeast Portland on Oct. 31, she is leading discussions with insurers to increase consumer access to information about health plan networks, which are getting increasingly narrow and restricted as the federal health care law takes hold. (Mark Graves / The Oregonian)

When Mastrantuono was preparing to see a specialist at Oregon Health & Science University, however, he realized OHSU was not part of his new plan's network. OHSU does accept Health Net, but only certain of its plans — and not his.

The "community care" plan he'd purchased places strict limits on which providers you can use. But open enrollment was over, so he couldn't change plans until 2015.

"I was essentially locked in for another six months," he said.

Mastrantuono's experience shows the new uncertainties in today's insurance world, said Jesse O'Brien, a consumer advocate who tracks health insurance for The OSPIRG Foundation. He says it's no longer enough to only ask your provider, "Do you take Health Net?"

Insurers are increasingly using narrow or "skinny" networks to keep costs down, allowing them to offer lower premiums in the new, highly competitive world of the individual and business markets.

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Cover Oregon gears up for big transition to the federal health care exchange

Nov 7, 2014, Health Care Inc. NW
by Elizabeth Hayes, Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal

Cover Oregon Executive Director Aaron Patnode says everything is on track for a smooth open enrollment period for Oregonians to sign up for health insurance, starting next Saturday, Nov. 15.

Some positive signs:

  • All 15 insurance carriers have connected to HealthCare.gov and have been testing the system end-to-end for the past five and a half weeks, much longer than the 10-day testing period last year, Patnode said.

  • The most recent quality assurance report from consultant Maximus gave the system "green" or low-risk ratings in eight of 10 categories

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