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Health Care for All-Oregon Celebrates Medicare’s 49th Birthday All Over Oregon

On July 30th, Medicare turns 49! HCAO activists are gathering for a “week of action” in communities across the state. Throughout Oregon rallies, special events, leafleting, postcards to legislators, op-eds and letters to the editor are spreading the word that we want health care for all people in Oregon. 

Check out our Events page for ideas and to see what is happening in Oregon.

Everybody in and nobody out!

The Coming Democratic Schism

Thomas Edsall

Thomas Edsall

The Opinion Pages The New York Times, July 15, 2014
by Thomas B Edsall | Contributing Op-Ed Writer

There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate.

This deepening division is apparent in a June Pew Research Center survey of more than 10,000 people, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” The Pew survey points up the emergence of a cohort of younger voters who are loyal to the Democratic Party, but much less focused on economic redistribution than on issues of personal and sexual autonomy.

Back in April, Pew researchers wrote that “huge generation gaps have opened up in our political and social values, our economic well-being, our family structure, our racial and ethnic identity, our gender norms, our religious affiliation, and our technology use.” These trends, Pew noted, point “toward a future marked by the most striking social, racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.”

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Upcoming Federal Court Decision Could Mean Premium Increases for Nearly 5 Million Americans

by Avalere Health
The Lund Report, July 17, 2014

The Halbig v. Burwell case before the U.S. District Court of Appeals could negatively impact millions of Americans who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  A new analysis from Avalere Health finds that without action from the federal government nearly 5 million Americans would receive an average premium increase of 76 percent if the courts ultimately rule that consumers in the federal exchange cannot receive premium subsidies.

Halbig v. Burwell asserts that the Internal Revenue Service exceeded its authority in issuing a May 2012 rule that provides premium subsidies to individuals purchasing coverage through the federally facilitated exchange. While the ACA specifies that subsidies should be administered “through an exchange established by the state,” the law also gives the federal government the authority to establish an exchange on the state’s behalf. Only 14 states and the District of Columbia opted to create their own exchanges in time for the 2014 plan year.

“The court case has major implications for future insurance coverage and access to care for millions of Americans,” said Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health. “Depending on the ultimate decision by the courts and absent some other remedy, individuals in at least 25 states who remain in their current plans could see an average premium increase of over 70 percent.”

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Healthcare: Let's Have People over Profits Once And For All

Submitted by Thom Hartmann A... on 16. June 2014

There are some things in this world that shouldn’t be turned into profit-making machines, and healthcare is definitely one of them. Believe it or not, there was a time in America when in almost every state health insurance companies and hospitals were required to be non-profits. Back then, Americans could actually get the healthcare and treatment they needed at affordable prices. But then Ronald Reagan came to Washington, and you guessed it, everything changed. 

Suddenly, there was money to be made off of healthcare in America, and a lot of it. Banksters realized that these once-nonprofit hospitals, health insurers, and nursing homes had the potential to become absolute gold mines. Former Senator Bill Frist's family, for example, made billions in the 1980s and 1990s privatizing formerly county and city hospitals, slashing salaries, busting unions, and raising prices. 

Slowly but surely, corporations and the wealthy elite took over our healthcare system, and have left us with a healthcare nightmare. That’s why according to a new study by a prominent think-tank, the United States ranks dead last in a review of healthcare in the industrialized world. For the fifth time in a row, the U.S. has been ranked last in the Commonwealth Fund’s annual review of healthcare in developed nations.

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Coast-to-Coast Health Care Woe: Cost

by Jenny Gold
KHN Staff Writer Jun 09, 2014

Recently, I moved across the country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. I drove the Southern route and decided to conduct an informal survey, asking folks I met along the way a question relevant to the health care reporting I've been doing for the past five years.

The question: What bugs you most about your medical care?

Few people I talked with — at gas stations, coffee shops, grocery stores, parking lots, bars and everywhere in between — even mentioned the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare by name. But I heard again and again how health policy issues I've been reporting on in Washington are affecting their lives.

What did I find out?

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Health law has financial backup for insurers

By Noam N. Levey McClatchy Newspapers

 WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature health care law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

   The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

   Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the health care law.

   They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn’t need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the health care law will protect them over the next few years.

   But the change in regulations essentially provides insurers with another backup: If they keep rate increases modest over the next couple of years but lose money, the administration will tap federal funds as needed to cover shortfalls.

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Medicare fight ain’t over, Wyden says

Senator Wyden

Senator Wyden

Jul 2, 2014, 1:29pm PDT 
by  Elizabeth Hayes ,
Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal

Sen. Ron Wyden may not have been able to pass the Medicare payment reform he wanted this spring, but don’t count out the possibility of it happening yet this year.

A defiant Wyden told the Business Journal staff he is still determined to overhaul the “sustainable growth-rate formula” (known as SGR), which the Senate has patched 17 times since 1997 to prevent steep cuts to physicians.

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CCOs Improve Care Where it Costs Them; Mixed Results Otherwise

The Oregon Health Authority released $47 million in bonus money along with the first annual report on the coordinated care organizations’ efforts to meet 17 quality metrics. The locally operated health plans for Medicaid clients are doing a good job reducing unnecessary ED visits and hospital stays for chronic conditions, but other metrics the state highlight in the report, such as an alleged increase in developmental screenings for children, are misleading.

by Christopher David Gray for The Lund Report, June 26, 2014

The Oregon Health Authority released its report on Tuesday to much media fanfare, the first such report with a year’s worth of numbers.

The coordinated care organizations showed marked improvement over the old system -- emergency room use was down sharply, as were hospitalizations for chronic but manageable illnesses like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

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