Albany: Albany Health Care for All-Oregon
When: Saturday, August 1
Where: Albany Saturday market
What: Distributing birthday candles in Medicare for All cards and collecting signatures on the Medicare's 50th Anniversary Post Cards for legislators.
Writing Letters to the Editor - Helen McGovern and Edith Orner.
Bandon Health Care for All-Oregon : Carol and Bob Fischer planning an event in Bandon
Corvallis: Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates
When: Celebrate the 50th birthday of Medicare, “As American as Apple Pie!” Saturday, July 18, 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Riverfront Park in Corvallis, near the Saturday Farmers’ Market.
Why: Medicare, which faced widespread opposition in 1965 and was roundly opposed as “socialized medicine,” today allows 48 million Americans affordable access to health care. Collecting signatures on the Medicare's 50th Anniversary Post Cards for legislators.
Music, cupcakes, and short inspirational testimonies--more.
Contact at website.
Klamath Falls: Michael J Fitzgerald: will do what I can as advised
La Grande: ORA Health Care Reform Action Team
Medicare's 50th Anniversary Post Card Campaign
Where: Union County Farmer's Markets and Summer/Fall Fairs
What: Roving teams collect signatures on the Medicare's 50th Anniversary Post Cards for legislators and distribute information about Medicare and Health Care for All-Oregon.
Meet with Senator and Representative, present the cards and talk about Medicare's 50th and health care for all in Oregon.
Contact: Bill Whitaker.
Medford: HCAO Rogue Valley
Medicare’s 50th Birthday Celebration
When: Thursday, July 30, press conference at 6 p.m. party with educational forum and PIE eating at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Medford Library, 205 S. Central Ave, Medford, OR. (press conference outside, celebration inside)
Press release Quarter sheet flier
Contact: Wes Brain.
Portland: Medicare's 50th Anniversary Celebration
When: Thursday, July 30, 12 noon
Where: Terry Schrunk Plaza, downtown Portland, across from City Hall - SW Madison Street
What: Celebration of Medicare's 50th with Senator Michael Dembrow as guest speaker. Collecting signatures on the Medicare's 50th Anniversary Post Cards for legislators and more.
Press release HERE.
Contact: Michael Arken, AFSCME Retirees Chapter President
Salem: HCAO Marion-Polk Counties at Salem Art Fair
When: Friday July 17 and Saturday July 18, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday July 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Salem Art Fair, South Entrance Free Speech Area, off Leffelle St. S., Salem
What: Tabling and collecting signatures on Medicare for All Post Cards and distributing Health Care for All-Oregon information at popular art fair featuring 200 plus national artists.
Contact: Anita Owen, 503-463-6733.
July 29, 2015
Representative Peter Buckley cannot attend Southern Oregon's "Medicare 50" celebration event tomorrow, although he did send the following statement which will be read at the 6pm press conference.
“July 30, 2015--Thanks to all of you for being here to celebrate Medicare and our shared commitment to make sure everyone in our country receives the care they need. In spite of ferocious opposition—an opposition that continues to this very day—Medicare is a tremendous success story. In our state alone, over 600,000 Oregonians receive vital care through Medicare, and over 500,000 Oregonians receive care through Medicaid. This is who we are as a state and a country. We care for our families and our communities, and we will not rest until every single person in Oregon and in the U.S. has access to high quality, affordable health care. The voices of opposition are on the wrong side of history. We need to build on 50 years of saving lives, 50 years of strengthening our families and our communities, and expand Medicare. There is no going back, only going forward. I’m grateful for the generations of Americans who have brought us progress in healthcare for our families, and it’s up to us to expand that progress for decades to come.”
--Oregon State Representative Peter Buckley, District 5.
Report by Bobbi Hall, Chair, Mid Valley Health Care Advocates, Corvallis
T.R. Reid, author of The Healing of America, made a whirlwind tour of Oregon over the last weekend in July, making numerous appearances before packed public audiences such as the 250-plus crowd in Takena Hall at Linn-Benton Community College the evening of July 25. The venue worked well and will be the site Sept. 19 of the play Mercy Killers. Reid, in addition to public talks also met with smaller groups of health care reform leaders, such as members of Physicians for a National Health Program in Portland and the board of Health Care for All-Oregon in Corvallis. On the 25th, Mike Huntington, Bruce Thompson, Sandi Bean and Bobbi Hall brought Reid from Portland to Salem for a noon talk in front of a large crowd at the Salem City Club, then to Corvallis to meet with the HCAO board, and then to LBCC to give a talk, followed by personal conversations with attendees at LBCC.
The talk in Salem compared what the Affordable Care Act has done to advance health care with what needs to be done to extend care to everyone and also outlined what the Colorado plan will offer. To see a video of it, go to the City Club’s website. Audio podcasts of the other Oregon talks by T.R. Reid will be posted on the Mid-Valley website, and an interview with T.R. Reid by Bobbi Hall will be aired Monday August 10 at 11:30 a.m. on KBOO, 90.7 in the Portland area, 104.3 in the Corvallis area and 91.9 in Hood River, and will also be posted as a podcast on the Mid-Valley website..
T.R. Reid had questions for the HCAO Board, and the Board had questions for him. As Reid chairs the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care, which is preparing an initiative petition to advance universal health care coverage, and the HCAO Board is considering its next move, both organizations learned from each other’s experiences. Reid gave his Oregon colleagues much to think about. We in the mid-valley owe much to several of our members for making large donations that brought our speaker and paid for theater rental at LBCC. Clearly, this event showed that we need more donations as well as more volunteers if we are to meet our goals, and we all can add something.
New York Times Opinion Page, July 27, 2015
by Paul Krugman
Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”
What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.
Actually, before I get to Mr. Bush’s argument, I guess I need to acknowledge that a Bush spokesman claims that the candidate wasn’t actually calling for an end to Medicare, he was just talking about things like raising the age of eligibility. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.
And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.
But then, Mr. Bush’s real argument, as opposed to his campaign’s lame attempt at a rewrite, is just a bigger zombie.
Next week, Medicare turns 50—originally signed into law on July 30, 1965. While Medicare is so popular, it continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems when actually it's the greatest solution.
July 25, 2015 | NationofChange | Op-Ed
by: Robert Reich
Medicare turns fifty next week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965 – the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever.
Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems. That’s baloney.
A few days ago Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”
Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs – leaving seniors with less coverage.
The fact is, Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the solution.
Its costs are being pushed upward by the rising costs of health care overall – which have slowed somewhat since the Affordable Care Act was introduced but are still rising faster than inflation.
Medicare costs are also rising because of the growing ranks of boomers becoming eligible for Medicare.
Medicare offers a way to reduce these underlying costs – if Washington would let it.
Let me explain.
The Lancet, Volume 386, No. 9991, p332–333, 25 July 2015
by Elizabeth Fee
50 years ago, on July 30, 1965, US President Lyndon B Johnson signed the Medicare Act into law. The law created two new programmes, Medicare for those who had reached the social security retirement age of 65 years, and Medicaid for those whose incomes were below specific levels. In the context of the long history of struggles to obtain national health insurance in the USA, this was a momentous act. Admittedly, the law applied only to part of the population, the old and the poor, but it was nonetheless an important advance.
Organised efforts to attain national health insurance in the USA began in the early 20th century, first by the Socialist Party, and soon after, by the Progressive Party and the American Association for Labor Legislation. At first, the American Medical Association (AMA) supported the idea of national health insurance, but then reversed its position. After the Russian revolution in 1917, thousands of people in the USA who were suspected of being communists were jailed or deported. In this changing political context, proponents of national health insurance were soundly defeated. Vocal support for national health insurance resurfaced during the Great Depression, when many could not afford the cost of medical care. The Social Security Act of 1935 provided old-age retirement insurance, unemployment insurance, and limited funds for specific groups: women and children, the physically disabled, and the blind. The old-age insurance was financed from taxes on employers and their employees. Initially, health insurance was intended to be part of the social insurance package, but it was dropped because of strong opposition, led by the AMA. The Journal of the American Medical Association presented national health insurance as a “revolutionary” and “Bolshevik” menace to the public health, undermining traditional American values of individualism and self-reliance.
Despite such claims, national health insurance became an increasingly insistent policy demand over the next decade and, in 1945, President Harry S Truman announced his support for a national health-care programme. This, he said, should encompass several areas: using federal funding to attract health-care professionals to rural and low-income areas; providing funds for the construction of hospitals; creating a board to establish standards for hospitals and to direct funds towards medical research; and developing a national health insurance plan, to be run by the federal government, and open to all Americans. Various bills were introduced to the US Congress but not one was successful. Few politicians wanted to provoke the ire of the AMA or face the opposition of the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and an array of conservative political forces that declared that this proposal for “socialized medicine” was probably inspired by Communism, and that the Truman White House staffers were “followers of the Moscow party line”. Facing strong and well-funded opposition, Truman backed away from the plan. With no politically viable alternative, private sector health insurance grew steadily, especially as unions insisted on including health benefits in bargaining agreements, as their best surviving option. Health insurance thus became tied to employment; retirees, the unemployed, and the underemployed were largely left out.
Don’t let companies divide the pool
Letter to the Eugene Register Guard 7-11-15
by Marc Shapiro, Eugene
Fifteen Oregon insurance plans for the individual and small group market have submitted premium rate requests ranging from a 1.9 percent decrease to a 52 percent increase. It’s clear the intent of the Affordable Care Act has been lost amid most insurance companies’ attempts to maximize their profits.
The underlying question as to whether the federal government had the authority to require people to buy health care insurance from private companies was resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with the Obama administration.
The significance of that ruling hinged on insurance industry claims that if the pool of insured people wasn’t expanded to include “everybody,” it wouldn’t be economically feasible to comply with many of the ACA’s requirements — including covering people with pre-existing conditions, removing annual and lifetime coverage caps and allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies through age 26.
Now we’re finding that instead of pooling their customers, the insurance companies are separating them so they can unjustifiably raise premiums for certain segments of the pool.
To properly evaluate the requested rate increases, the state Insurance Division should require the insurance companies to combine all their insured into a single pool before deciding on the validity of the proposed increases.
Health Care Study for Our Future
Letter to the Eugene Register Guard by Lou Sinniger, Elmira
Also submitted to the Eugene Weekly by Marc Shapiro, Eugene
July 24, 2015
On July 6th, the legislature passed HB2828, which was signed by Governor Brown on July 22. This bill is one of the most important bills to pass the legislature in this session. Among other things, it will provide the legislature and the public a solid economical basis to make decisions regarding health care in the future.
It will fund a study to determine the most effective and economical way to finance health care services for all of Oregon's residents. The implementation of the results of the study will have the potential to be transformative. It could end the economic and emotional terror that is associated with needing health care that is unaffordable.
Health Care related bankruptcies in Oregon could become a thing of the past, and implementation in Oregon could lead to change nationally.
Oregon has implemented many innovative health care programs, but the splintered non-comprehensive approach, seems to continually leave the end product, universal comprehensive health care services for all residents, out of reach.
This passage of this bill is a major step toward making this long sought-after care a reality in Oregon.
Caption: T.R. Reid will be plugging universal care when he comes to Oregon this week.
Health Care Inc. NW, July 23, 2015
by Elizabeth Hayes Staff Reporter Portland Business Journal
T.R. Reid, best-selling author of “The Healing of America," will lay down a challenge when he comes to Oregon later this week from his home state of Colorado: Which state can get to universal health care first?
“We have a race going on,” Reid said in a phone interview from Colorado. “I’m going to say, ‘Good luck, I hope you pass it, but we beat you on marijuana, and we’ll beat on universal coverage.’”
Reid, a former correspondent for the Washington Post and NPR contributor, will be speaking at three Portland events, Friday and Monday, along with events in Salem and Albany. He said he and the advocacy group Health Care for All Oregon agree on this principle: “A decent, ethical democracy should provide health care for everybody.”
“All other industrialized democracies do so already. The only one that doesn’t is the richest one — the U.S.,” Reid said. “This is a moral imperative. There are also medical and financial grounds.”
Reid’s bestseller, “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care,” examines how other countries pull off universal care, and do it for less money and with better outcomes than the U.S.
From The Lund Report, July 21, 2015
Source: Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News
About 7.5 million Americans paid an average penalty of $200 for not having health insurance in 2014 — the first year most Americans were required to have coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday.
By contrast, 76 percent of taxpayers checked a box indicating they had qualifying insurance coverage all year. Counting another 7 million dependents who were not required to report their coverage but also filed returns, the proportion rises to 81 percent, the IRS said.
The government had estimated in January that from 3 million to 6 million households would have to pay a penalty: 1 percent of their annual income or $95 per adult in 2014, whichever is greater.
Final figures for the tax year aren’t available. The IRS has so far processed about 135 million of the estimated 150 million returns expected. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency was reporting preliminary figures because it has received “numerous requests” from members of Congress.
In addition to penalty totals, the IRS reported Tuesday on tax subsidies the health law provided for people who were buying coverage through the state or federal online exchanges and who qualified based on income. People had a choice of filing for credits in advance — money the government paid to their insurers — or when filing tax returns.
About 2.7 million taxpayers claimed approximately $9 billion in subsidies, reporting an average subsidy of $3,400. About 40 percent claimed less than $2,000, 40 percent claimed $2,000 to $5,000, and 20 percent claimed $5,000 or more.
Efforts are underway in Colorado and Oregon for universal healthcare.
by Shelby Sebens for The Lund Report
July 21, 2015
T.R Reid is hoping that Colorado is the first state in the nation to provide a healthcare system that covers everyone. But he’d still be happy if Oregon got there first.
“Some state has to get this going and prove that it will work and then it will spread,” Reid said.
An author and chairman of the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care, Reid will be in Oregon this weekend touting healthcare for all. Advocates in Colorado will put a measure on the 2016 ballot. Though the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, was intended to get every American insured, the Congressional Budget Office predicts 31 million people will still be uninsured as of 2025.
“The Obamacare solution doesn’t get us there,” said Reid, who has traveled the world studying universal healthcare in other countries. “It’s a national disgrace that we would have 31 million people uninsured in the world’s richest country.”
The FBI defines terrorism as “Acts dangerous to human life…intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” Much of the behavior of our current health care system meets that definition. The facts show intention on the part of corporations to intimidate the population by using market strategies to charge whatever they like for their medical products and services, and an effort to coerce the public into accepting the current system as the only option.
The Average American Family Pays $4,000 for Medical Fraud and Subsidies
Medical billing fraud is estimated at 10 percent of all health care, or about $270 billion, while patent monopolies raise the price of prescription drugs by another $270 billion a year. Combined, this represents an astonishing annual cost of over $4,000 to an average American household. As The Atlantic puts it, “The people most likely to bilk the system are doctors and medical providers, not ‘welfare queens.'”
Intimidation by Outrageous Markups
In a recent analysis of 50 hospitals (49 for-profit) with the highest charge-to-cost ratios in 2012, the average markup was 1,000 percent, which means that a procedure costing a hospital $100 is marked up to $1,000 for us.
Some of the markups test the limits of sanity: an 80-cent needle for $143.25 (a 17,000 percent markup). A 25-cent IUD device for $1,000. A blood test that costs $10 in one hospital and $10,000 in another.
A Johns Hopkins professor explained, “They are marking up the prices because no one is telling them they can’t.”
In July 2009, as the Affordable Care Act moved through Congress, Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, laughed at the idea that any legislator would actually read the bill before voting on it. If such full-body immersion were necessary to support the A.C.A., he said, “I think we would have very few votes.” In March 2010, just before the law passed, speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made a similar point. Addressing a national conference of county officials, she declared, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”
Five years after its passage, the A.C.A. is not only the most hotly debated and vituperatively denounced law of the era — it is still shrouded in a fog of controversy. Many Americans have no idea how the bill works or what it was designed to accomplish. In March, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found “significant” knowledge gaps in the public’s understanding of the law. A third of the participants were unaware of the law’s key provision: offering subsidies for the uninsured.
It is no wonder Americans have been hard-pressed to learn anything about the actual workings of the A.C.A. There has been little criticism of the A.C.A. from the left, with prominent figures such as Paul Krugman, the economist and New York Times columnist, acting as cheerleaders. The right has confined itself to disinformation and risible smears, with G.O.P. presidential hopeful Ben Carson memorably defining the A.C.A. as “the worst thing that has happened to this nation since slavery.” A lack of clarity on both sides — and some deliberate bait-and-switch tactics — dogged the very creation of the law.
by NATHAN BRUTTELL
Corvallis Gazette-Times July 19, 2015
Health care for everyone. Health care for all.
Those were the chants that rang out from more than a dozen local health care reform advocates Saturday morning at the Corvallis Farmers Market. The dozen advocates marched along the riverfront before stopping near a decorative birthday cake celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare, the federal insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans. But the Saturday event morphed from a celebration into a call to action for universal health care.
“We all know someone who hasn’t gotten the treatment they needed because of the costs. We’re all one banana peel away from being in that high-risk pool ourselves,” said co-organizer Dr. Mike Huntington, retired after 22 years as Cancer Center director at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. “Every day for more than 20 years I would see people come in with advanced cancers during a time when detection methods were getting better and better. It doesn’t make sense until you understand what was happening to them. They couldn’t afford insurance or a doctor’s visit.”
Huntington said that dozens of patients would wait months or years until their cancers advanced to crisis stages or they would refuse treatment altogether. But not because of pride, he said, because they couldn’t afford treatment and support their families at the same time.
“It was the fear of what it would cost,” Huntington said. “It was the overwhelming idea that they could lose their homes because of hospital bills. Or they didn’t want their families to go without, or go into debt because of the hospital bills. They refused treatment because they needed the money for housing or food.”
by Michelle Andrews
Kaiser Health News, July 14, 2015
It’s a situation that occurs all too often: Someone goes to the emergency room and doesn’t learn until he gets a hefty bill that one of the doctors who treated him wasn’t in his insurance network. Or a diligent consumer checks before scheduling surgery to make sure that the hospital she plans to use and the doctors that will perform it are all in network. Then she learns later that an assistant surgeon who she didn’t know and who wasn’t in her network scrubbed in on her operation.
“If we’re mandating that people buy insurance coverage it seems we should also protect them from surprise medical bills,” says Mark Rukavina, from Community Health Advisors in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
If an out-of-network doctor or other provider doesn’t have a contract with a health plan that determines how much they get paid for services, they may bill the patient for any charges not covered by insurance. In those instances, the consumer could be on the hook for the rest of the bill, a practice known as “balance billing.” Although there’s no federal protection, about a quarter of states have laws on the books against balance billing by out-of-network hospitals, doctors or other providers in at least certain circumstances such as emergency care