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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.

Oregon Health Equity Alliance Legislative Kick-off

Report by Lee Mercer, President Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO)
December 2, 2014

A number of HCAO members attended, and some tabled, at the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) Legislative Kick-Off at the Augustana Lutheran Church (an HCAO member organization) in NE Portland, Monday, December 1. Among those attending were Robin Cash, Maria Grumm, Nancy Sullivan, Chris Lowe, Hyung Nam, Sandra Hernandes and organizer Ross Lampert. A large crowd was entertained by the Agustana Jazz Band, kicking off and culminating the event. A diverse group of activists was greeted by Pastor Mark Knutson, who introduced Francisco Aguirre, given sanctuary by and living at the church as he fights deportation.

Alberto Moreno of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition MC’d talks by OHEA leaders and activists on the history of their organization and their current legislative agenda. Kayse Jama (Center for Intercultural Organizing), Darlene Huntress (Oregon Action) and Andrea Miller (Causa Oregon) outlined the growth of OHEA from its roots as the People of Color Health Equity Collaborative to a vibrant coalition of 33 organizations currently. This included their numerous legislative victories in the 2013 session.

The 2015 legislative agenda was outlined by spokespersons from organizations taking the lead on each issue:

  1. Health Care for All Children (Linda Roman, Oregon Latino Health Coalition)

  2. Basic Health Plan (Kathy Wai, Apano and John Mullin, Oregon Law Center).

  3. Comprehensive Women’s Health (Aimee Santos, BRAVE)

  4. Earned Sick Leave (Andrea Paluso, Family Forward Oregon)

  5. Junk Food Marketing in Schools (Kasandra Griffin, Upstream Public Health)

  6. Ban the Box (Midge Purcell, Urban League)

  7. End Profiling (Salome Chimuku, Center for Intercultural Organizing

The event was attended by Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Senator Michael Dembrow, Representatives Allyssa Keny-Guyer and Julie Parrish and staff members of Rep. Lew Fredericks and Sen. Chip Shields, who spoke on their interest in or support for the various policy proposals.

To weigh in with the HCAO Legislative Review Team on elements of the OHEA agenda on which our coalition should engage, or for more information, e-mail Lee Mercer.

Exploding the myths about American health care

A still from the documentary Remote Area Medical. remoteareamedicalmovie.com

Commentary: new documentary takes 'world's best' system to task

by Wendell Potter
The Center for Public Integrity, December 1, 2014

I don’t agree with Romney and Obama health care advisor Jonathan Gruber that Americans are stupid, but there is abundant evidence that we’re incredibly gullible. And we’re paying a big price for it. For the latest evidence, check out the documentary Remote Area Medical, which opens in select theaters across the country this coming Friday.

We’ve been told over and over again by politicians and flacks — including me in my previous career — that we have the world’s best health care system. As I explained in Deadly Spin, if you continue to believe that no other country could possibly have a better system than ours, it’s because of the overwhelmingly successful PR campaign my former colleagues and I carried out over decades.

The purpose of that campaign — a campaign that’s ongoing, by the way — is to protect the profitable status quo by obscuring an empirical truth: that when it comes to access to affordable health care, millions of Americans might as well be living in a third world country. And that’s still true today, more than four years after Obamacare became law. 

Although the Affordable Care Act is helping people find coverage that doesn’t bust the family budget, more than 30 million of us are still uninsured because the law doesn’t bring down the cost of insurance nearly enough.

You will meet a few of those millions in Remote Area Medical, which is named after the organization that former TV star Stan Brock founded 30 years ago to fly doctors to remote villages along the Amazon.


Big Pharma: Crony Capitalism Out of Control

CounterPunch, November 24, 2014

Two recent news items about the voracious drug industry should call for a supine Congress to arouse itself and initiate investigations about the pay-or-die drug prices that are far too common.

The first item—a page one story in the New York Times—was about the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation, which fifteen years ago invested $150 million in the biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals to develop a drug for this serious lung disease.

On November 19, the Foundation reported a return of $3.3 billion from that investment. Kalydeco, the drug developed with that investment, is taken daily by CF patients (who can afford it) and is priced at $300,000 a year per patient. Who can pay that price?

The second news release came from the drug industry funded Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The Center’s Joseph DiMasi asserts that the cost of developing a new prescription medicine is about $2.558 billion, significantly higher than the previous estimate of $802 million that the Center claimed in 2003.

The drug industry promoters use this ludicrous figure to justify sky-high drug prices for consumers. Unfortunately, the criticism of this inflated number does not receive adequate media attention.


Are Killers Still in Charge of Our Health Care?

Monday, 24 November 2014

By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
Posted on truthout.org

Malcolm MacDougall is dead, but he left us a really important message before he died.

Just five days before he died of prostate cancer, Malcolm MacDougall, a speechwriter and creative director, wrote about the ordeal he was being put through by his insurance company, Health Republic [of New York]/MagnaCare.

MacDougall's tale, if true, is another piece of evidence that shows that even with the significant improvements of Obamacare, our health-care system is still broken because for-profit health insurance companies are at the core of it, and they will always, always put profits ahead of people.

For five months, MacDougall writes, he repeatedly had payments denied by Health Republic [of New York]/MagnaCare for his medical bills.

Every time he went to a doctor or cancer specialist, MacDougall says he made sure that they were covered under Health Republic [of New York]/MagnaCare. He made sure that they were considered "in-network," meaning that they took his plan.

MacDougall even got letters from the insurance company saying that specific treatments "meet criteria and have been certified," only to find out later, he writes, that they weren't covered and that he was out-of-pocket thousands of dollars.


Subsidies key defect in Obamacare

OpEd by Paul F. deLespinasse, Ph.D
Statesman Journal, November 20, 2014

Two medical stories headlined recent Oregon newspapers: one local but with national implications, the other national with local implications. A common denominator lies beneath both stories.

In Oregon, thousands of people got inflated tax credits when buying insurance through the Obamacare exchange. Some people might have to pay more than $1,000 back to the federal government.

The national news was the death of Thomas Duncan and infection of several people who treated him. Duncan was sent home when he first visited a Texas hospital's emergency room, despite highly suspicious symptoms.

Obamacare may have been a step in the right direction, but both news stories illustrate its inadequacy. Partly due to refusal by many states (including Texas) to expand Medicaid, tens of millions remain uninsured. And Obamacare doesn't cover foreign visitors and resident aliens.

Liberian Thomas Duncan had no insurance.


AMA Med Students Back State Laws to Achieve Universal Health Care

OpEd News: Life Arts Nov. 18, 2014

My guest today is second-year medical student, Brad Zehr. Welcome to OpEdNews, Brad. Something very interesting happened at the AMA (American Medical Association) recently. What can you tell us about it?

BZ: The Medical Student Section of the AMA adopted a resolution at the Interim AMA meeting in Dallas expressing support for innovative state legislation to achieve universal health care, including but not limited to single-payer health insurance. The reason this policy item was particularly high-profile and groundbreaking was because it is the first instance of any section of the AMA adopting policy in support of single-payer health insurance. Although the Medical Student Section (MSS) is only one of ten sections of the AMA, and although this resolution pertains only to the MSS and not the full AMA, the resolution signals a generational shift in organized medicine's approach to health care reform.

Historically, the AMA has explicitly opposed any forms of single-payer, including opposition to the creation of U.S. Medicare in 1965. The AMA House of Delegates (HOD), which is the highest policy-making body of the AMA and includes representation from all of the AMA sub-sections and from state medical societies and medical specialty societies, still has three policies stating express opposition to single-payer health insurance in the U.S. The MSS boldly voiced support for single-payer despite the HOD's continued hypersensitivity to single-payer.