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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.

Single payer in Vermont and the U.S.: Now IS the time

Press release by Physicians for a National Health Program
Posted Dec. 17, 2014

The following statement was released today by Dr. Andrew D. Coates, president of Physicians for a National Health Program:

Today, Vermont’s governor, after campaigning for single payer for years, announced that he would not work to pass single-payer legislation in Vermont this year.

“Single payer” is shorthand for a reform that will replace the present wasteful and chaotic system of private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and out-of-pocket cash payments with a single public finance system that will redirect resources in order to guarantee access to all necessary care for everyone, which would include many essentials not covered by any present plan.

Governor Peter Shumlin, in his press conference, stated that “now is not the right time” for single payer.

I disagree.


Why is HealthCare.gov hiding its most affordable plans?

Many low-income consumers may be missing out on Silver plans with super-low deductibles

Consumer Reports, November 21, 2014

One little-known feature of the Affordable Care Act is the availability of special health plans with low deductibles and copays to consumers whose incomes are low, but not low enough to be enrolled in Medicaid. (For 2015 that's up to $29,175 for a single person, $39,325 for a couple, and $59,624 for a family of four. Details here.)

Unfortunately, many people eligible to buy these plans may never realize it because of the way HealthCare.gov, the site that sells health insurance to individuals in 38 states, displays plan results. Instead, they may end up with plans that, although their premiums are slightly lower, have extremely high deductibles that could put health care out of reach financially.

The plans they’re missing are special versions of the mid-priced Silver plans, the most popular of the four “metal tiers”—Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum—sold on the state Health Insurance Marketplaces.

Whereas regular Silver plans cover about 70 percent of the average person’s health care costs, the special Silver plans cover 73, 87, or 94 percent, depending on the person’s income. That translates into much lower deductibles, copays and coinsurance. The Silver 87 plan is more generous than a regular Gold plan, and the Silver 94 plan is more generous than a Platinum plan. But the customer doesn't pay a higher premium for these plans than for the standard version of the plan. In other words, they’re a fantastic deal.

Here’s the problem. When people in the eligible income range window-shop on HealthCare.gov, the only clue they have that the special plans are available is the fine print on the initial eligibility page. It says, “This household may also be eligible for a cost-sharing reduction on a Silver plan that reduces the out-of-pocket expenses paid for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.”


"Mercy Killers" Reveals Dark Side of Healthcare System

With 60 percent of bankruptcies caused by medical bills, performer Michael Milligan joins us to discuss his new play "Mercy Killers."  

Real News, July 28, 2014

Michael Milligan is a performer who has been writing and acting for the theater for almost two decades. He is the writer and actor of the play Mercy Killers, which was inspired by personal experiences in the healthcare system. Health Care for All-Oregon members hope to bring him and his play to tour Oregon in the fall.

See the interview and watch an excerpt of the play HERE.

Basic Health Can Increase Health Coverage and Economic Security for Thousands of Oregon Families

Janet Bauer, OCPP Policy Analyst

Janet Bauer, OCPP Policy Analyst

News Release, Oregon Center for Public Policy, November 10, 2014

Some 10,000 low-income Oregonians would gain health insurance and tens of thousands more would see sharply reduced health insurance costs should the state enact a “Basic Health Program.” That’s according to a state-commissioned study released today, which also showed that Oregon can structure the program in such a way as to cost little or even to generate a small surplus.

The study arrives as health advocates are urging lawmakers to create a Basic Health Program, an option under the Affordable Care Act. The advocates see Basic Health as a good way to improve health insurance coverage among low-income adults who make too much to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, but too little JanJanet Bauerto easily afford commercial insurance. The study estimates that 17 percent of this group remains uninsured, despite recent gains from health reform.

“Basic Health is a bargain,” said Janet Bauer, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy, who reviewed the study. “At little to no cost to the state, Oregon can improve the health coverage and economic security of tens of thousands of vulnerable Oregon families.”



Dental gap: Coverage slips through reform's cracks

by Bob Herman, Modern Healthcare
December 9, 2014 – 11:25am

Dental care is a peculiar niche of the U.S. healthcare system. Even though teeth and gums are just as much part of the human body as kidneys or elbows, they are insured differently — a lot differently.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was written and debated, comprehensive dental insurance never really became a focal point. Lawmakers ultimately created a few provisions that may boost access to oral care, but dental coverage still escapes the grasp of millions of Americans.

Dental plans garnered national attention after it was discovered that HHS overstated 2014 enrollment figures in the ACA's insurance exchanges. The government included almost 400,000 stand-alone dental plans, which are much cheaper and separate from standard health plans. After accounting for those, the number of people who were enrolled in full-service medical plans was 6.7 million. A House committee plans to grill CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on the numbers Tuesday.

Lost in that discussion, however, is the question of how much the law has done to advance dental care. Not enough, advocates argue.


Elizabeth Hayes: The uncovered

Study shows that after five years of health reform, 120,000 Oregonians will still lack insurance

by Elizabeth Hayes Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal
Jan 31, 2014

In 2019, five years after the Affordable Care Act has kicked in and, presumably, Cover Oregon’s woes are a distant memory, many more Oregonians will have insurance than do today.

But not everyone.

An estimated 120,000 Oregonians who are subject to the “individual mandate” will still lack insurance, according to a new fact sheet by the Oregon Center for Public Policy. Here’s a breakdown:

• An estimated 71 percent — or 84,000 people — will be low income, earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

• At least two thirds of them — or 56,000 people — will earn too much to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan.

• Another 11,000 would make too much for a tax subsidy through Cover Oregon to help offset the cost of their premium.



Oregon Health Equity Alliance Legislative Kick-off

Report by Lee Mercer, President Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO)
December 2, 2014

A number of HCAO members attended, and some tabled, at the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) Legislative Kick-Off at the Augustana Lutheran Church (an HCAO member organization) in NE Portland, Monday, December 1. Among those attending were Robin Cash, Maria Grumm, Nancy Sullivan, Chris Lowe, Hyung Nam, Sandra Hernandes and organizer Ross Lampert. A large crowd was entertained by the Agustana Jazz Band, kicking off and culminating the event. A diverse group of activists was greeted by Pastor Mark Knutson, who introduced Francisco Aguirre, given sanctuary by and living at the church as he fights deportation.

Alberto Moreno of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition MC’d talks by OHEA leaders and activists on the history of their organization and their current legislative agenda. Kayse Jama (Center for Intercultural Organizing), Darlene Huntress (Oregon Action) and Andrea Miller (Causa Oregon) outlined the growth of OHEA from its roots as the People of Color Health Equity Collaborative to a vibrant coalition of 33 organizations currently. This included their numerous legislative victories in the 2013 session.

The 2015 legislative agenda was outlined by spokespersons from organizations taking the lead on each issue:

  1. Health Care for All Children (Linda Roman, Oregon Latino Health Coalition)

  2. Basic Health Plan (Kathy Wai, Apano and John Mullin, Oregon Law Center).

  3. Comprehensive Women’s Health (Aimee Santos, BRAVE)

  4. Earned Sick Leave (Andrea Paluso, Family Forward Oregon)

  5. Junk Food Marketing in Schools (Kasandra Griffin, Upstream Public Health)

  6. Ban the Box (Midge Purcell, Urban League)

  7. End Profiling (Salome Chimuku, Center for Intercultural Organizing

The event was attended by Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Senator Michael Dembrow, Representatives Allyssa Keny-Guyer and Julie Parrish and staff members of Rep. Lew Fredericks and Sen. Chip Shields, who spoke on their interest in or support for the various policy proposals.

To weigh in with the HCAO Legislative Review Team on elements of the OHEA agenda on which our coalition should engage, or for more information, e-mail Lee Mercer.

Exploding the myths about American health care

A still from the documentary Remote Area Medical. remoteareamedicalmovie.com

Commentary: new documentary takes 'world's best' system to task

by Wendell Potter
The Center for Public Integrity, December 1, 2014

I don’t agree with Romney and Obama health care advisor Jonathan Gruber that Americans are stupid, but there is abundant evidence that we’re incredibly gullible. And we’re paying a big price for it. For the latest evidence, check out the documentary Remote Area Medical, which opens in select theaters across the country this coming Friday.

We’ve been told over and over again by politicians and flacks — including me in my previous career — that we have the world’s best health care system. As I explained in Deadly Spin, if you continue to believe that no other country could possibly have a better system than ours, it’s because of the overwhelmingly successful PR campaign my former colleagues and I carried out over decades.

The purpose of that campaign — a campaign that’s ongoing, by the way — is to protect the profitable status quo by obscuring an empirical truth: that when it comes to access to affordable health care, millions of Americans might as well be living in a third world country. And that’s still true today, more than four years after Obamacare became law. 

Although the Affordable Care Act is helping people find coverage that doesn’t bust the family budget, more than 30 million of us are still uninsured because the law doesn’t bring down the cost of insurance nearly enough.

You will meet a few of those millions in Remote Area Medical, which is named after the organization that former TV star Stan Brock founded 30 years ago to fly doctors to remote villages along the Amazon.