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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.

CCO’s keep up their balancing act

Latest OHA report on key performance metrics says that growth in spending remains in check as Medicaid rolls climb to nearly 1 million across Oregon. Toughest problems still hard to change.

Christopher Heun, for The Lund Report
January 15, 2015

regon’s coordinated care organizations continue to manage a delicate balance: keeping costs down at the same time they are providing coverage to more and more Medicaid patients as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

That’s the finding of a report on the state’s health system transformation released Wednesday by the Oregon Health Authority’s Office of Health Analytics. It evaluated the progress achieved by coordinated care organizations on key quality and financial measures between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

Emergency department visits are down. So are hospital admissions from chronic diseases. More and more people are enrolled in patient-centered primary care homes, which aren’t really homes at all, but clinics designed to improve coordinated care.

Even the bottom line is looking up. As more healthcare services are provided within primary care rather than at more costly settings such as the emergency room, for example, the system is saving money. The state is making good on its promise to the federal government to reduce the growth in Medicaid and Medicare spending by 2 percentage points per member, per year

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Medical Debt Among Insured Consumers: The Role of Cost Sharing, Transparency, and Consumer Assistance

 Karen Pollitz
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Jan 08, 2015 |

recent report issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) finds that medical debts account for a majority (52%) of debt collections actions that appear on consumer credit reports.  This report offers yet another reminder that a broader view of health insurance – not just at how many have coverage, but also the effectiveness of coverage – is warranted.  An earlier Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 1 in 3 Americans struggle to pay medical bills, and that 70% who do so are insured.

The CFPB report confirms that medical debt frequently occurs among people with no other history of credit problems.  When it does, it can have serious and long range financial consequences. Referral of medical debts to collections damages a person’s credit rating significantly and for many years, limiting access to mortgages, car loans, and other consumer credit.  Health consequences are also possible; as the Kaiser report observed, once in debt, people may delay or forego other needed care to avoid incurring further unaffordable medical bills.

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Why Vermont Failed to Enact Single Payer?

         Dr. Samuel Metz

         Dr. Samuel Metz

Its collapse was a legislative failure, according to this author, which Oregon legislators deserve support so the same problem doesn't befall us.

Guest Opinion by Dr. Samuel Metz, for The Lund Report
Jan.8, 2015

OPINION -- Drawing unwanted national attention to his tiny state, Governor Peter Shumlin pronounced Vermont’s quest for universal health care Dead On Arrival. This statement broke the hearts of activists who previously cheered passage by the 2011 Vermont legislature of Act 48, the first step toward America’s first statewide universal care plan.

But this collapse was no ordinary failure. It was not a failure of universal care, or of single payer, or even of Gov. Shumlin himself. This was a spectacular failure of a very different nature, and one with valuable lessons for Oregon. But we must learn the right lessons, not the wrong ones.

The Wall Street Journal called this a failure of universal care to reduce costs. Not true. Not only was the universal plan never implemented, all predictions in Vermont’s universal care study, prepared at the request of the legislature by Dr. William Hsiao, remain valid. Regardless of costs, universal care in Vermont would still provide better care to more people for less money. Dr. Hsiao’s conclusions are corroborated by more than two dozen other studies in 14 states that come to the same conclusion.

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Oracle v. Oregon: Kitzhaber details 'best outcome' for lawsuits, health care priorities for 4th term

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber

Health Care Inc. Northwest Jan 6, 2015
Elizabeth Hayes, Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal

Gov. John Kitzhaber said the best outcome for the lawsuits stemming from the Cover Oregon debacle would be a negotiated settlement.

"I'm interested in recouping the resources," Kitzhaber said in an interview today. "There was a delta between what would have cost us to enroll if we had a fully functioning website and that extra manual step. To the extent that resources were wasted, that's where you can legitimately make that charge. The technology was not good technology and the cost shouldn't be borne by the state."

The state and IT contractor Oracle Corp. are pursuing dueling lawsuits over who's at fault for the bug-ridden exchange, which the state basically scrapped in favor of using the federal exchange.

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Chart of Americans’ Support

From the Medicare for All website:

Over half of Americans want national single-payer health care, Improved Medicare for All
Over half of Americans want national single-payer health care, Improved Medicare for All.

That fact was documented in 2007, as per the bar chart below.
That fact has been confirmed multiple times since that time, in 2008, 2009, 2010.
Examples of the wording in polls in 2007: "... adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers" (65% yes) and " ... federal government should guarantee health insurance for all." (64% yes)

Over half of Americans support single-payer health care,
Improved Medicare for All.
Results of eight poll / survey questions:
65%, 54%, 53%, 55%, 64%, 60%, 64%, 47%

British couple 'face $200,000 hospital bill' after baby born early in New York

Katie Amos and Lee Johnston have started a fundraising page in the name of their newborn baby, Dax. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Katie Amos and Lee Johnston have started a fundraising page in the name of their newborn baby, Dax. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Lincolnshire couple launch fundraising page in voice of son Dax Lack of insurance could prove costly as baby stays in Lenox Hill hospital.

by Jessica Glenza in New York
For The Guardian: US News, January 1, 2015

A British couple say they could be in for a $200,000 (£130,000) hospital bill, after traveling to New York City for a five-day vacation, only for their baby boy to be born 11 weeks premature.

Dax was reportedly born weighing 3lbs; according to the Independent he is in the neonatal intensive care unit at Lenox Hill hospital in New York. The hospital did not immediately respond to a Guardian inquiry.

“My mummy and daddy went on a five day break to New York as a last get away before I came along!” wrote Katie Amos and Lee Johnston from Lincolnshire, in the voice of their child Dax on a fundraising page entitled “Dax’s Tale of New York”.

“They went to a cake shop (Mummy loves cakes), and were walking through Central Park on a movie tour and I decided they were having such a good time I wanted to see what all the fun was about, and I decided to pop out 11 weeks early!”

The couple say they could be forced to stay in the hospital, uninsured and accruing medical debt, until 10 March. It is unclear whether the couple’s travel insurance will pay for the delivery of their son.

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Being uninsured in America will cost you more

by RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Associated Press, Dec 29, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The cost of being uninsured in America is going up significantly next year for millions of people.

It's the first year all taxpayers have to report to the Internal Revenue Service whether they had health insurance for the previous year, as required under President Barack Obama's law. Those who were uninsured face fines, unless they qualify for one of about 30 exemptions, most of which involve financial hardships.

Dayna Dayson of Phoenix estimates that she'll have to pay the tax man $290 when she files her federal return. Dayson, who's in her early 30s, works in marketing and doesn't have a lot left over each month after housing, transportation and other fixed costs. She'd like health insurance but she couldn't afford it in 2014, as required by the law.

"It's touted as this amazing thing, but right now, for me, it doesn't fit into my budget," she said.

Ryan Moon of Des Moines, Iowa, graduated from college in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in political science and is still hunting for a permanent job with benefits. He expects to pay a fine of $95. A supporter of the health care law, he feels conflicted about its insurance mandate and fines.

"I hate the idea that you have to pay a penalty, but at the same time, it helps other people," said Moon, who's in his early 20s. "It really helps society, but society has to be forced to help society."

Going without health insurance has always involved financial risks. You could have an accident and end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Now, you may also get fined. In a decision that allowed Obama's law to advance, the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the coverage requirement and its accompanying fines were a constitutionally valid exercise of Congress' authority to tax.

In 2015, all taxpayers have to report to the IRS on their health insurance status the previous year. Most will check a box. It's also when the IRS starts collecting fines from some uninsured people, and deciding if others qualify for exemptions.

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95 percent of Oregonians have insurance, one of the year's big success stories. But that still leaves 200,000 without, including Gwen Eastland of Creswell.

95 percent of Oregonians have insurance, one of the year's big success stories. But that still leaves 200,000 without, including Gwen Eastland of Creswell.

95 percent of Oregonians have insurance, one of the year's big success stories. But that still leaves 200,000 without, including Gwen Eastland of Creswell.

by Elizabeth Hayes 
Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal
Dec 23, 2014

One of the big health care success stories this year was the improvement in the rate of Oregonians with health insurance — rising from 86 percent last year to 95 percent today.

The leap was achieved largely through the expansion of Medicaid, or the Oregon Health Plan, to those earning 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The Affordable Care Act's "individual mandate" no doubt also played a role.

Even so, there remain nearly 202,000 people without insurance. That's more than the populations of Hillsboro and Beaverton combined.

Exactly who are they?

"It's a combination of primarily two things," said Ross Lampert, a fulltime organizer with Health Care for All - Oregon, which is pushing for universal health care. "It's people opting out and people who are not qualified for whatever reason — they're undocumented or they haven't been in the country long enough."

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Half of Doctors Listed as Serving Medicaid Patients Are Unavailable, Investigation Finds

Caption: Daniel Levinson, inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, at his office in Washington. Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times

Caption: Daniel Levinson, inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, at his office in Washington. Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times

by ROBERT PEAR
New York Times, December 8, 2014

WASHINGTON — Large numbers of doctors who are listed as serving Medicaid patients are not available to treat them, federal investigators said in a new report.

“Half of providers could not offer appointments to enrollees,” the investigators said in the report, which will be issued on Tuesday.

Many of the doctors were not accepting new Medicaid patients or could not be found at their last known addresses, according to the report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. The study raises questions about access to care for people gaining Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The health law is fueling rapid growth in Medicaid, with enrollment up by nine million people, or 16 percent, in the last year, the department said. Most of the new beneficiaries are enrolled in private health plans that use a network of doctors to manage their care.

Patients select doctors from a list of providers affiliated with each Medicaid health plan. The investigators, led by the inspector general, Daniel R. Levinson, called doctors’ offices and found that in many cases the doctors were unavailable or unable to make appointments.

More than one-third of providers could not be found at the location listed by a Medicaid managed-care plan.

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