by Norman Sylvester
Oregon hospitals are banking windfall profits, while providing dramatically less charity care to the poor.
Willamette Week, April 13, 2016
by Nigel Jaquiss
Here's a quiz: What local company is sitting on the biggest pile of cash? Portland General Electric? Mentor Graphics? Nike?
Actually, it's none of those publicly traded companies. It's a nonprofit.
The state's largest hospital system, Providence Health & Services, has stockpiled nearly $6 billion in cash reserves.
That's almost twice the amount of cash Nike reported in its most recent quarterly filing.
tt's also a number that makes state Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) angry.
After a long career as a researcher at Kaiser Permanente and Oregon Health & Science University, Greenlick became the Legislature's leading health care expert.
What he sees today are Oregon's hospitals banking windfall profits—even though they are nonprofits—and providing dramatically less charity care to the poor.
Tuesday, April 19, 12 pm - 1 pm
Place: 4415 SE Woodstock Blv, Portland OR, 97206
Portland based Zoom+Care, a for-profit corporation, says it is "going to change the way healthcare is being delivered" as it expands to 16 clinics in the Seattle area in 2016. But Zoom does not accept Medicare, Medicaid or Tri-Care patients. They are "cherry picking" the young and healthy while non-profit providers are left to care for an older, sicker population. If Zoom is allowed to avoid the problems of dealing with poorer, aging patients who have chronic health problems by marketing only to a young and healthy demographic, it will shift care for the poor, disabled and elderly to non-profit providers and put financial stress on their ability to care for all of us.
This action is a sister action to one being held in Seattle at the the Ballard ZOOMCARE Clinic, 2038 Market Street NW.
Co-Sponsors of the Seattle Action are:
PSARA, Washington CAN!, Physicians for a National Health
Program Western WA, Inland Boatmen's Union of the Pacific, UFCW Local 21, UNITE HERE Local 8, Health Care for All Washington and SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW
Over the past two decades, peer-reviewed research by PNHP leaders framed the debate on health care and focused it on the need for fundamental reform. Our proposals detail what a single-payer system in the U.S. could look like.
Physicians for a National Health Program: Facts
Single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all,” is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. Under a single-payer system, all residents of the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.
The program would be funded by the savings obtained from replacing today’s inefficient, profit-oriented, multiple insurance payers with a single streamlined, nonprofit, public payer, and by modest new taxes based on ability to pay. Premiums would disappear; 95 percent of all households would save money. Patients would no longer face financial barriers to care such as co-pays and deductibles, and would regain free choice of doctor and hospital. Doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.
What about Obamacare?
Events & articles which alerted HCAO to potential nonprofit problems
Much of the information below refers to a particular hospital. We do not expect the behavior of this hospital is atypical, so this is not intended primarily to call attention to this specific apparent misbehavior. Rather we are citing stories of behavior that is probably legal in Oregon, but that suggest regulatory changes are needed.
In a December 14, 2015 Register Guard op-ed, PeaceHealth executive Rand O’Leary made the following statements which affirm the changing landscape for community benefits from nonprofit hospitals:
“The Affordable Care Act was intentional in reducing charity care costs and giving health care organizations more dollars to spend on upstream efforts to keep people well and out of hospitals.”
“With the decreased need for charity care comes the opportunity to expand our community benefit work.”
“We have multiple financial assistance and financial counseling services for both insured and uninsured patients. Patients can get a reduction of anywhere from 10 percent to 100 percent of their portion of the bill. While we have seen a reduction in our financial assistance applications as more patients become insured under Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Plan, we remain committed to making these resources available to patients who experience difficulties.”
Within the same week in the same newspaper, Bonny Cappa, a PeaceHealth emergency roomemployee, wrote in a December 19 op-ed that she and another PeaceHealth employee had to file for bankruptcy due to medical bills they owed to their nonprofit employer.Read More
by Charlie Swanson, HCAO Legislative Chair
The Oregon Health Authority has finally released a request for proposal (RFP) to analyze the financing of healthcare in Oregon that was defined by HB 3260 in the 2013 legislative session and funded by HB 2828 in the 2015 session. HCAO had hoped the RFP would go out in November of 2015, but we are happy that it is now moving forward. (See the Lund Reportt.)
The study will examine various health care financing models and determine which best provides universal access to comprehensive care at the appropriate time, and is affordable for individuals, families, businesses and society. More details of all of the criteria can be found below.
The study will examine at least four options:
- Single-payer: a publicly financed single-payer model for privately delivered health care.
- Health Care for All: a commercial coverage option that provides the essential health benefits (EHBs) and operates in an alternative, exchange-like market.
- Alternative Marketplace: model that allows individuals to choose between a publicly funded plan, including a basic health program (BHP), and private insurance coverage.
- Affordable Care Act (ACA): the current health care financing system in the state that includes CCOs
Health Care for All-Oregon, a statewide coalition of 120 organizations and over 15,000 activists advocating for universal publicly funded health care, announces the hiring of Executive Director, Robert Lee, and Operations and Outreach Coordinator, Christina Lacy, effective April 1, 2016.
Robert Lee joined Health Care for All-Oregon after serving several years as a lead Operations and Policy Analyst with Oregon Housing and Community Services, where he worked with stakeholders and business leaders from across the state to develop strategic anti-poverty reforms, with particular focus on health care, public education and economic development policies. Mr. Lee also serves as part of the adjunct faculty at the Portland State University Hatfield School of Government, where he teaches applied policy research and analysis, legislative process and anti-poverty policies in Oregon.
Prior to working in state government, Mr. Lee served as Care Medical’s Director of Government Affairs and Health Policy Analyst and as president of the Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services, where he pro-actively advocated for the needs of our veteran, disabled and chronically under-served communities, while working on significant health care reforms throughout Oregon and Washington, as well as several sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
He holds a deep passion for community service and has served on numerous local school boards and committees, as well as a long list of state health care work groups and commissions. In his spare time, he enjoys sharing adventures with his wife while hiking the scenic Columbia Gorge, mountaineering throughout the Cascades, skijoring with their dogs and managing a very active apiary at their family farm outside Sandy, OR.
Christina Lacy has been a lifetime advocate for under-served populations and progressive causes, both abroad and domestically. After honing her nonprofit development skills at the political journal The American Prospect, she took this experience to Latin America, supporting indigenous and urban communities to combat poverty and advance educational opportunities with nonprofits in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Raised in shland, she returned to her home state to assist low-income residents in applying for Social Security, Workers Compensation, and personal injury benefits with the Portland law firm Swanson, Thomas, Coon and Newton. Ms. Lacy is excited to apply her fundraising and outreach experience to a cause as urgent as health care reform and an organization as dedicated as HCAO. In her spare time, she enjoys running, soccer, and playing guitar.
by Christina Lacy, HCAO Outreach Coordinator
After being nominated for Tom Dwyer Automotive Services’ Referral Rewards program, HCAO was generously selected as the $200 award winner for Dwyer’s final 2015 Quarterly Award. The award is typically bestowed to nonprofit organizations helping underserved individuals both locally and internationally. Thank you, Tom, for your continued support of Oregonians striving for a better, more equitable world!
Remember that HCAO also receives 20% of any invoice from new customers who mention HCAO as their referral source during 2016. Be sure to direct your friends and family to Tom Dwyer Automotive Services, 530 SE Tenino Street in Portland, and other local businesses working to strengthen and elevate the Oregon economy.
If there is any good in the fact that drug companies are gouging patients and payers it is that the citizenry may finally awaken to the fact that we need the government involved to straighten out this crisis, and, by extension, that we can finally get past the anti-government hangup preventing us from enacting a single payer system. We can thank the editors of The Salt Lake Tribune for reminding us that the solution we need is a single payer Medicare for all.--Comment by Don McCanne
Salt Lake Tribune, Apr 04 2016
hose who continue to argue that there is a "free market solution" to the unconscionable costs and gaps in the American health care system have to explain away the train wreck surrounding new cures for hepatitis C.
The good news is that there is a cure for hepatitis C, a blood disease that can lead to a slow and painful death as it destroys a victim's liver. In fact, now there are a few. Gilead Sciences markets concoctions called Sovaldi and Harvoni. Janssen Research offers a drug called Olysio.
The bad news is that the cost of the full treatment regimen for a single patient can run from $83,000 to $189,000. That, obviously, is well beyond the reach of nearly every household and understandably enough to scare off both private insurance carriers and government-funded Medicaid.
The worse news is that, because the United States clings to the idea that wellness is a commodity subject to rational market forces, nobody is trying to limit these awful costs.
This article highlights one of the major reasons why we need true universal health care. Much of the contentiousness in labor contract negotiations would be eliminated if everyone was guaranteed health care so that it did not need to be a fight in every contract.
--Jim Robison, HCAO Communications
by Elliot Njus | The Oregonian/OregonLive on April 02, 2016
TriMet and the union representing its front-line employees are gearing up for what could be a particularly contentious round of contract negotiations.
Already, the union has threatened disruptive protests, saying TriMet have been unwilling to meet informally to discuss issues. TriMet says its requests to start bargaining have been rebuffed, and the agency has rolled out a website where it is countering the union's public statements.
The existing contract between the transit agency and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 expires at the end of November.
The negotiations that led to that deal took more than two years, and the agency won major concessions on health-care benefits, with employees agreeing to shoulder higher costs. For employees hired after the contract was ratified, it put an end to post-retirement TriMet-paid health care benefits for retirees eligible for Medicare.
Eagle Tribune, April 2, 2016
by Christian M. Wade Statehouse Reporter
BOSTON -- Nearly a decade after Massachusetts started requiring every citizen to carry health insurance, advocates say they're building support to again transform health care in the state.
Nearly 40 of 200 lawmakers -- including some in legislative leadership -- have signaled support for proposals to create a single-payer health care system.
"While we've done a good job at insuring folks, we've not done a good job at containing costs," said Sen. Barbara L'Italien, D-Andover, one of nine senators backing the idea. "We need to start the conversation on this."
L'Italien, a member of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing, said switching to some form of a single-payer system will curb the state's skyrocketing health care spending and free up money for other areas of the state budget.
North Denver News, March 29, 2016
As in the rest of the United States, Coloradans currently spend much more on health-care per person than people living in other developed countries. However, this extra spending is not buying us longer, healthier lives. Why are we getting so little bang for our buck?
Our current health care system is built around private insurance companies and their mazes of deductibles, copayments, out-of-network providers, and differentiated reimbursement schemes. This inefficient corporate bureaucracy – which makes it difficult for patients to access care and expensive for providers to file claims and collect payments – eats up over 20 cents of every health care dollar.
From an economic perspective, the case for ColoradoCare is straightforward. ColoradoCare provides a plan to streamline our state’s health care system. If voters approve Amendment 69 this November, the state will transition from our current web of private health insurers towards the sort of health care system enjoyed by the rest of the developed world. Then again, you don’t have to look to other countries to understand how ColoradoCare would work. Just as Medicare provides health care for all Colorado residents over the age of 65, ColoradoCare would cover the rest of us.
ColoradoCare would generate significant savings for most Coloradans. The plan eliminates health insurance premiums and deductibles and replaces them with a new 3.33 percent payroll deduction for employees, while employers pay 6.67 percent. A typical Coloradan working fulltime at the median wage of $18 an hour would pay $1,199 in health care premium taxes under ColoradoCare, compared to the current cost of purchasing a Gold Plan on Colorado’s health exchange — about $5,000 in premiums and up to $6,850 in annual out-of-pocket costs. ColoradoCare’s handy, online calculator at www.ColoradoCare.org/calculator shows that this worker would save anywhere from $3,794 to $10,644 a year in health care costs. The savings for families with kids would be even greater..
The Week, March 30, 2016
by Ryan Cooper, National correspondent
Veterans have long been breaking new ground for American social programs. A pension program for Civil War vets was the first national-level welfare program of any kind. Today the Department of Veterans Affairs runs the most socialized part of the U.S. health care system — like Britain's NHS, the Veterans Health Administration is both single-payer and single-provider, where the government owns and operates the hospitals.
The VA has always had a somewhat uncomfortable existence, poised between America's instinctive hero-worship of the military and its traditional love of private business and markets. Until quite recently, veteran worship won out even among conservatives, who would criticize the VA but stop short of dismantling it for fear of insufficient levels of Supporting The Troops.
No longer. Now most conservatives in Congress, prompted in large part by a Koch brothers-funded astroturf group, are gunning for veterans' health care. They want American vets dumped onto the private market, where they will unquestionably receive worse care than they currently do.
The Washington Monthly (full disclosure: where I previously worked) has the goods, in a cover story investigation of the campaign against the VA. The major organization behind the push is the Concerned Veterans for America, a group purporting to represent the hordes of veterans who have been harmed by the VA and want it privatized. In reality, it's an astroturf campaign funded by the Koch brothers, who have an unshakable hatred of all government welfare programs. But all the major veterans service organizations — such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars — do not want privatization, and the VA consistently ranks highly in satisfaction surveys.