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 JOIN YOUR LOCAL ACTION TEAM!         INNER CITY BLUES FESTIVAL

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.

Economic Study of NY Universal Healthcare Act Released

           Gerald Friedman, PH.D

           Gerald Friedman, PH.D

UMass Amherst Econ. Dept. Chair [Gerald Friedman] Documents $45B Net Savings to Families, Businesses, Taxpayers from "NY Health" Program
98% of Households Would Pay Less Than They Do Now and 200,000 Jobs Would Be Created

New York would net savings of $45 billion a year by creating a universal health plan, even after counting increased spending to cover the uninsured and eliminate co-payments, deductibles and out-of-network charges, according to an economic analysis released Tuesday, March 10. The Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst released the comprehensive economic study of the New York Health Act (A.5062, Gottfried/S.3525, Perkins), a proposed universal health care program for New York State.  The full report can be found here.    

Key findings include: 
The Act would save $71 billion in its first year: 

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How new director Lynne Saxton will put her stamp on the Oregon Health Authority

Lynne Saxton was confirmed as director of the Oregon Health Authority on Monday.

Lynne Saxton was confirmed as director of the Oregon Health Authority on Monday.

Health Care Inc. NW, Mar 9, 2015,
Elizabeth Hayes, Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal

Lynne Saxton was confirmed this morning as the Oregon Health Authority director, giving some long-needed stability to an agency that has gone without a permanent director since December 2013.

Saxton is the fourth person to take over the reins in that space of time. She was most recently executive director of Youth Villages Oregon, a nonprofit that provides mental health and social services to children and families.

Saxton now oversees an incredibly complex agency: Medicaid services, health policy and research, public health, the Public Employees Benefit Board and Oregon Educators' Benefit Board, Addictions and Mental Health Policy and Programs and a Transformation Center that supports innovation in the state's 16 Coordinated Care Organizations.

I caught up with Saxton this morning and asked her a few questions about leading the OHA.

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Health care law did not end discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions.

Demonstration at Humana corporate headquarters, Louisville, KY

Demonstration at Humana corporate headquarters, Louisville, KY

The letter urges action against discriminatory benefit designs that limit access for patients that were subjected to pre-existing conditions restrictions prior to the ACA. They spell it out. Some plans do not include all the drugs prescribed for enrollees. Some plans don’t cover critical medications including combination therapies. Plans can remove medications during the plan year. Some plans are restricting access to drugs by requiring prior authorization, step therapy, and quantity limits. The network of physicians and hospitals in some plans is so narrow as to deny patients the specialty care needed. Much of the information needed for patients to choose the most appropriate plan is not available

by: Kay Tillow
FireDogLake Friday March 6, 201

In 2010 the giant health insurance company WellPoint created an algorithm that searched its database, located breast cancer patients, and targeted them for cancellation of their policies.

A few years earlier Michael Moore’s stunning documentary, “Sicko,” showed an unending list of illnesses that had been used by insurers to refuse to sell people policies, to charge them much more, or to deny payment for “pre-existing conditions.”

The public became acutely aware of these harmful, widespread practices and sharply condemned them.  So it was not by chance that this insistent popular support resulted in inclusion of a ban on these practices in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was passed in 2010.

The government website explains.  “Your insurance company can’t turn you down or charge you more because of your pre-existing health or medical condition like asthma, back pain, diabetes, or cancer.  Once you have insurance, they can’t refuse to cover treatment for your pre-existing condition.

Even some Republicans who are trying to repeal the ACA insist that they stand for keeping a provision against such discrimination.  “We would protect people with existing conditions,” say Reps. Paul Ryan, John Kline, and Fred Upton.

Regardless of opinions on mandates or the health reform law in general, the entire nation embraced the part of the legislation that outlawed discrimination on the basis of illness.

So we’ve won, right, at least this much reform?  Sadly, no.

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Overwhelming Evidence that Half of America is In or Near Poverty

Photo Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

Photo Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

And it's much worse for black families.

The original poverty measures were (and still are) based largely on the food costs of the 1950s. But while food costs have doubled since 1978, housing has more than tripled, medical expenses are six times higher, and college tuition is eleven times higher. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau have calculated that food, housing, health care, child care, transportation, taxes, and other household expenditures consume nearly the entire median household income.

by Paul Buchheit / AlterNet  March 23, 2014

The Charles Koch Foundation recently released a commercial that ranked a near-poverty-level $34,000 family among the Top 1% of poor people in the world. Bud Konheim, CEO and co-founder of fashion company Nicole Miller, concurred: "The guy that's making, oh my God, he's making $35,000 a year, why don't we try that out in India or some countries we can't even name. China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy."

Comments like these are condescending and self-righteous. They display an ignorance of the needs of lower-income and middle-income families in America. The costs of food and housing and education and health care and transportation and child care and taxes have been well-defined by organizations such as the Economic Policy Institute, which calculated that a U.S. family of three would require an average of about $48,000 a year to meet basic needs; and by the Working Poor Families Project, which estimates the income required for basic needs for a family of four at about $45,000. The median household income is $51,000.

The following discussion pertains to the half of America that is in or near poverty, the people rarely seen by Congress.

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The GOP Gang of Supremes Go After Obamacare

Published: March 6, 2015 | NationofChange | Op-Ed
by Jim Hightower

Look out — the Supreme Court’s black-robed gang of far-right ideologues are rampaging again! The five-man clan is firing potshots at Obamacare — and their political recklessness endangers justice, the Court’s own integrity, and the health of millions of innocent bystanders.

In an attempt to override the law, these so-called “justices” have jumped on a wagonload of legalistic BS named King v. Burwell. But that case is a very rickety legal vehicle. It sprang from a frivolous lawsuit concocted in 2010 by a right-wing front group funded by such self-serving oligarchs as the Koch brothers, Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. The chairman of the front group was neither delicate nor discrete in describing the purpose of the lawsuit as a raw political assault on Obamacare: “This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene,” he howled at the time. “I do not care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart … I don’t care who does it, whether it’s some court some place or the United States Congress.”

So much for the intellectual depth of the King case, which was fabricated on a twisted interpretation of only four words in the 906-page health care law. The plaintiffs claim that the law prohibits insurance subsidies to the millions of low and middle-income Americans living in the 36 states that did not set up a state exchange — thus making health care unaffordable to millions of hard-working Americans and small business who are purchasing insurance on the federal exchange, essentially, nullifying the heart of Obamacare.

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Medicare at 50 — Origins and Evolution

Comments; 1) the author does not emphasize that Medicare in its current state is the most efficiently run insurance program in the country, 2) the author does not mention as cost-saving measures either the problems of malpractice reform or medical school debt, and 3) most relevant to HCAO, if there were a national single-payer health care system paid for by combination of income tax and VAT(ie ongoing sources of revenue), there would be no worry about depletion of the Medicare fund. 
Jerry Robbins MD, Newport

Medicare.jpeg

Health Policy Report, Mary Beth Hamel, M.D., M.P.H., Editor
David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., Karen Davis, Ph.D., and Stuart Guterman, M.A.
N Engl J Med 2015
; 372:479-486January 29, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMhpr1411701

Many Americans have never known a world without Medicare. For 50 years, it has been a reliable guarantor of the health and welfare of older and disabled Americans by paying their medical bills, ensuring their access to needed health care services, and protecting them from potentially crushing health expenses. However, as popular as Medicare has become, Congress created the program only after a long and deeply ideological struggle that still reverberates in continuing debates about its future. Nor was the Medicare program that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 30, 1965, identical to the program we know today. As we mark the beginning of Medicare's 50th anniversary year, this first report in a two-part series recounts the history of this remarkable health care initiative and explains how it came to be, what it has accomplished, and how it has evolved over the past five decades. In the second report in the series, we will describe the ongoing challenges of the program and discuss proposals to address them.

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Part 2: Medicare at 50 — Moving Forward

David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., Karen Davis, Ph.D., and Stuart Guterman, M.A.
N Engl J Med 2015; 372:671-677February 12, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMhpr1414856

As Medicare enters its 50th year, this popular federal program faces profound challenges to its effectiveness and sustainability in future decades. In this report, we review these problems, building on the issues raised in our earlier article.1 We also review several options to strengthen the program and enhance its viability.

Critical Changes Facing Medicare
Rising Expenditures

Perhaps the most important challenge facing Medicare is the prospect of increasing expenditures, driven in large part by demographic trends. As the U.S. population ages, the number of people who are eligible for Medicare benefits will grow, from 52.3 million in 2013 to 81.8 million in 2030.2 From 2009 through 2013, Medicare spending per beneficiary increased at a historically low annual rate of 1.0% in nominal dollars and actually decreased in real terms (accounting for inflation). Over the next decade, slow growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary is expected to continue, but because of substantial increases in the number of beneficiaries, the growth in total program spending will outpace that in the overall economy (Figure 1 Figure 1Projected Annual Growth Rates for Total Medicare Spending, as Compared with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Medicare Enrollment, 2013–2023.). Total Medicare spending is expected to increase from 3.0% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 to 3.8% in 2030, and the program's share of the federal budget is expected to increase from 14.4% to 15.8%.3 These fiscal trends will create continuing pressure to reform the program.

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New report calls for Universal Health Coverage to be implemented worldwide

Medical News Today, Feb. 18, 2015e
Adapted by MNT from original media release

Health professionals and policymakers came together on 17 February to debate the human right to health as a new report calls on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to be implemented across the globe. Delegates at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), a global initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), heard from the report's lead author, Sir David Nicholson (former chief executive of the National Health Service in England) as he launched The Next Billion: How to Deliver Universal Health Coverage.

UHC is the basic concept that every person, everywhere, should have access to healthcare without suffering financial hardship. This essential human right is a cornerstone of sustainable development and global security. But today, a billion people worldwide live without access to basic healthcare services and every year millions are forced into poverty after having to pay for healthcare out of their own pocket.

Today's policy report, which is based on a review of all available evidence, highlights the substantial benefits UHC can deliver - for individuals, for countries and for politicians - and provides a solid framework to support policymakers in transitioning their nations' health services to UHC.

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