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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.

How the High Cost of Medical Care Is Affecting Americans

Health Care Costs.jpeg

New York Times/CBS News Poll:
by ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

  • A bill of over $40,000 for the 20 minutes it took a doctor to stitch a cut.
  • An ambulance ride of only 200 feet that cost $3,421.
  • A healthy, insured couple “slowly going under” because their premiums, co-pays and deductibles are now twice as high as their mortgage and food costs.

Over the past two years, the New York Times series Paying Till It Hurts has examined the high costs of ordinary medical care in the United States, exposing the reasons and chronicling the human fallout behind the nation’s extraordinary $2.9 trillion medical bill. In response, more than 10,000 readers shared individual experiences like the ones above.

But how does a collection of often heartbreaking, often startling tales reflect national experiences and attitudes? The available data did not answer all of my questions. So, using reader comments as a starting point, The Times designed a questionnaire with CBS News and conducted a national poll this month.

Here is a snapshot of the American experience with the cost of medical care.

READ MORE

Interview: Connecting the Dots Between Healthcare & Homelessness

December 18, 2014 by Ben  
For Healthcare-NOW! Updates

John N. Lozier has been executive director of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council since its founding in January 1990. The Council is a network of more than 10,000 doctors, nurses, social workers, patients and advocates who share the mission to eliminate homelessness. John lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Joceline, and sits on the Board of Healthcare-NOW!

Question 1: Can you start off by talking about how people come to experience homelessness, and whether the healthcare industry plays a role in that?

Medical debt, deeply rooted in the current system, is a major and often overlooked contributor to homelessness. PNHP research shows that over 60% of personal bankruptcies in the US are the result of medical debt. From bankruptcy there is a well-worn path through eviction, followed by temporary stays with family or friends, to sleeping in a car, a shelter or outdoors.

Beyond that driver of homelessness, untreated illnesses play a huge role in selecting who will experience homelessness in an economy that is sorely lacking in affordable housing. Those who are most quickly squeezed out onto the streets tend to be those with so-called “behavioral health” problems – addictions and mental illnesses. Without minimizing the difficulties in treating these diseases, very helpful treatment approaches do exist, but are far from universally available. Uninsurance and underinsurance play a central role in excluding people who need and want treatment. Even when one has a payment source, system insufficiencies create wait lists for people who need to enter treatment at the point when they are ready.

Question 2: Does homelessness and housing insecurity create particular challenges for accessing needed healthcare?

READ MORE

Uninsured Under the ACA: Millions of Americans Can't Afford Coverage

[Ed. Note: Our HCAO organizer has been contacted by a reporter who is interested in finding stories of people who are not covered under the ACA. If you are uncovered and willing to talk about it, please contact Ross Lampert at our Portland office, 503-206-6709. ]

Yahoo News  December 15, 2014
by Elizabeth Renter

Rocky Rush, a 37-year-old single father from Nebraska, has gone without health insurance for years due to the cost, and the Affordable Care Act hasn't changed that.

"I can go without medical coverage, but my children need it," Rush says.

Affordable health insurance for all Americans was one of the cornerstones and selling points of the ACA. And while the law has helped reduce the proportion of uninsured Americans from 20 to 15 percent, according to The Commonwealth Fund, it has left millions without coverage.

These uninsured Americans, falling into a gap created by the ACA, are too poor to receive assistance on their health insurance premiums, but make too much to qualify for Medicaid, putting them in a difficult predicament when costly medical bills come due.

When Rush last shopped for coverage -- while working full time at a local events center that didn't offer benefits he could afford -- he says he didn't qualify for subsidies under the ACA. But because Nebraska didn't expand Medicaid, he didn't qualify for that either.

"Both of my kids are on Medicaid," says Rush, who has a daughter, 5, and a son, 3. Rush lost that job and briefly had access to Medicaid, but once his unemployment benefits kicked in, he made too much money and again had to go without coverage.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.”

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"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.”

READ MORE
 


 

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO SANDRA HERNANDES' ILLNESS THIS WEEK, THE DEC 7 STATE OF EQUITY EVENT IN GRESHAM HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL JANUARY. WATCH FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS ON THE MEMBER ORGANIZATION EVENTS PAGE.