HCAO News

Bill Moyers Essay: Everyone Should Be Entitled to Medicare

Moyers was an aide to President Johnson when he signed the bill for Medicare.

Moyers and Johnson, 1965

Moyers and Johnson, 1965

From the transcript, August 3, 2012

BILL MOYERS: I read a news story this week that sent me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. This past Monday, July 30th was the 47th anniversary of Medicare, and to celebrate it, the “Raging Grannies,” as they’re known, gathered outside the county office building in Rochester, New York to protest rumored cuts to their Medicare coverage.

RAGING GRANNIES: This old grey granny now needs a test or two --

BILL MOYERS: They praised Medicare in song as “the best deal we have in the country,” and even called for expanding it Medicare into universal health care for everyone.

It seems the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was coming up from Washington to raise funds for Republican congressional candidate Maggie Brooks. The “Raging Grannies” wanted to make certain Ms. Brooks didn’t sign on to the GOP budget which includes cuts to Medicare.

For myself, the “Raging Grannies” channeled a familiar voice, the Texas twang of my boss back in 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was a White House assistant at the time and had been working with the President and others on the team trying to get Medicare through Congress. Even with overwhelming Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, it was one tough fight. Others had tried before us.

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From the Care Act to the Able Act, A Rundown of the 2015 Health Bills that Passed

The Oregon Legislature passed five dozen new laws affecting healthcare policy that were covered in The Lund Report, making significant gains in public health, consumer protection, workers’ health benefits and mental health policy.

by Chris Gray, for The Lund Report
July 15, 2015

You win some, and you lose some, as the story goes, and Oregon’s 2015 legislative session was no different.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems walked away as one of the biggest winners, crushing a price transparency bill that would have exposed its members to competition, while the Legislature limited its efforts to increase transparency to a $250,000 tax-funded website that will publish historic statewide averages of hospital price information from the all-payer, all-claims database.

But the hospitals, in turn, lost a battle to the Oregon Nurses Association, and will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to their nurse staffing committees, whose recommendations will now have the force of law. The ONA couldn’t pass a bill to require nurses at blood drives -- after a big win in the House, the Red Cross lobbied to send that bill to a quiet defeat in the Senate. A bill to give nurse practitioners the privilege of performing vasectomies was similarly snipped.

The decision to cut the vasectomy bill was also a rare setback for Planned Parenthood, which had a highly productive session, winning passage of bills that increase patient privacy around health insurance information and make a woman’s access to birth control nearly unfettered.

Here’s a rundown of the many bills covered in The Lund Report in this year’s session, with a comprehensive compilation of the significant healthcare legislation that went the distance in the 2015 session. A separate article will look at the bills that fell short:

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Single-Payer Activists Outline Possible 2016 Ballot Measure

While a legislative effort for single-payer does not have enough support to pass, particularly in the Senate, Sen. Michael Dembrow believes a ballot measure could bring universal healthcare to Oregonians before the end of the decade, using a template to be decided by a comprehensive study.

by Chris Gray
The Lund Report, May 5, 2015

Single-payer advocates came to the Capitol on Monday to air their passions on behalf of a bill that’s not going anywhere, but a pair of efforts on the horizon may bolster their ideas for replacing private health insurance with a single-payer health plan for everyone.

Charlie Swanson of Health Care of All Oregon told The Lund Report that his organization has submitted three potential ballot measures to the Secretary of State’s office, to put before the voters in 2016. His organization will decide later this month whether to begin collecting signatures.

“The most ideal time would be on the 2016 ballot, and that’d be great if that could happen,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, Oregon’s longtime champion of single-payer health insurance. “We don’t want to go to the ballot until the organizers could guarantee us a million votes,” he added, reserving the possibility to delay the vote to 2018 or 2020.

Swanson explained that none of the ballot initiatives include details about how the system would actually work. One measure says that healthcare is a human right, and would require the state to guarantee healthcare to everyone. Another calls upon the Legislature to enact a universal healthcare system based on the outcome of House Bill 2828, which funds a comprehensive study.

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Health Care for Immigrants — Implications of Obama's Executive Action

Notably, however, the Obama administration has indicated that immigrants covered under the new policy will continue to be excluded from the ACA's exchanges and tax credits. Similarly, immigrants targeted by the executive action will for the most part remain ineligible for federally funded Medicaid, though some states do provide publicly funded health insurance for some classes of undocumented immigrants. To the extent that work permits lead to an increase in taxes paid by undocumented immigrants, ongoing exclusion of these immigrants from the programs supported by such taxes would be increasingly inequitable.

Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D

Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D

New England Journal of Medicine: Perspective
N Engl J Med 2015; 372:1187-1189March 26, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1414949
by Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D., and Wendy E. Parmet, J.D.

On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his intention to grant millions of undocumented immigrants a reprieve from the threat of deportation, along with the possibility of legal employment in the United States. The announcement came shortly after midterm elections that saw Republicans take control of the Senate and bolster their majority in the House of Representatives, and it followed more than a year of congressional gridlock over the comprehensive immigration-reform bill passed by the Senate. The subsequent decision by a federal district judge in Texas to put President Obama's plan on hold has cast into doubt a policy that — if ultimately upheld — could have substantial effects on the health care system.

The cornerstone of the President's policy is a plan to allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants (“covered immigrants”) to live and work in the United States. Modeled on the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which applied to young adults who arrived in the United States as children, the new policy will allow many more adults who have been here since 2010 to receive deferred-action status. The population affected by the policy is one that currently experiences major disparities in health care coverage and access. Immigrants are far more likely than native-born residents to be uninsured: among adults, an estimated 40% of legal permanent residents and 71% of undocumented immigrants are uninsured, as compared with 15% of U.S.-born citizens.1 Not surprisingly, health care utilization is far lower among immigrants than among citizens.

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