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Health Care for All-Oregon Celebrates Medicare’s 49th Birthday All Over Oregon

On July 30th, Medicare turns 49! HCAO activists are gathering for a “week of action” in communities across the state. Throughout Oregon rallies, special events, leafleting, postcards to legislators, op-eds and letters to the editor are spreading the word that we want health care for all people in Oregon. 

Check out our Events page for ideas and to see what is happening in Oregon.

Everybody in and nobody out!

Health law has financial backup for insurers

By Noam N. Levey McClatchy Newspapers

 WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature health care law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

   The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

   Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the health care law.

   They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn’t need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the health care law will protect them over the next few years.

   But the change in regulations essentially provides insurers with another backup: If they keep rate increases modest over the next couple of years but lose money, the administration will tap federal funds as needed to cover shortfalls.

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Medicare fight ain’t over, Wyden says

Senator Wyden

Senator Wyden

Jul 2, 2014, 1:29pm PDT 
by  Elizabeth Hayes ,
Staff Reporter- Portland Business Journal

Sen. Ron Wyden may not have been able to pass the Medicare payment reform he wanted this spring, but don’t count out the possibility of it happening yet this year.

A defiant Wyden told the Business Journal staff he is still determined to overhaul the “sustainable growth-rate formula” (known as SGR), which the Senate has patched 17 times since 1997 to prevent steep cuts to physicians.

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CCOs Improve Care Where it Costs Them; Mixed Results Otherwise

The Oregon Health Authority released $47 million in bonus money along with the first annual report on the coordinated care organizations’ efforts to meet 17 quality metrics. The locally operated health plans for Medicaid clients are doing a good job reducing unnecessary ED visits and hospital stays for chronic conditions, but other metrics the state highlight in the report, such as an alleged increase in developmental screenings for children, are misleading.

by Christopher David Gray for The Lund Report, June 26, 2014

The Oregon Health Authority released its report on Tuesday to much media fanfare, the first such report with a year’s worth of numbers.

The coordinated care organizations showed marked improvement over the old system -- emergency room use was down sharply, as were hospitalizations for chronic but manageable illnesses like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

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Keeping an eye on insurance companies that refuse to pay claims

Commentary: All-too-common Arizona case only got resolved following media attention
by Wendell Potter For Public Integrity, May 5 2015

After writing a couple weeks back that we need to keep an eye on profit-hungry health insurers to make sure they are not refusing to pay for medically necessary care, I got a flood of emails and tweets from people with stories to share.

That column was published just as Arizona media were reporting that the country’s third largest insurer had told a Phoenix man he would have to pay a $165,000 hospital bill himself.  Many wrote to tell me how outraged they were to hear that had it not been for the media attention, Cliff Faraci, called a good Samaritan for trying to save the life of a 19-year-old girl following a fiery crash in Arizona, might be facing bankruptcy.

I, too, was outraged, but, sadly, not at all shocked. It was just the most recent example of how health insurance bureaucrats insert themselves between patients and their doctors, all too often resulting in potentially life-saving treatment not being provided or patients getting stuck with bills far beyond their ability to pay

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U.S. doctors migrating north

by Wendy Glauser
CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), June 19, 2014

TORONTO -- With the prospect of greater pay, fewer bureaucratic headaches and the opportunity to provide better care for patients, the number of American doctors migrating north is rising, according to Canadian recruiters and Canadian Medical Association data.

Susan Craig, president of the Toronto-based physician recruiter, Susan Craig Associates, said that Canada is becoming "increasingly attractive," while John Philpott, the Halifax-based chief executive director of Can-Am Recruiting, noted "interest is doubling each year for American doctors" seeking to move north.

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Chicago Jobs with Justice endorses H.R. 676

Single Payer News, June 22, 2014

The Chicago chapter of Jobs with Justice has endorsed H.R. 676, national single-payer legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan. H.R. 676 is also called “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.”

Susan Hurley, executive director of Chicago Jobs with Justice, commented on the resolution: “Single-payer health care has to be our ultimate goal in the United States. It is the only humane and civilized choice, as well as being the best choice for health outcomes and cost.”

“The longer the delay, the deeper our shame in the eyes of the world and future generations,” Hurley stated.

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Fight for Health Care Justice Moves to States

[Note: Lee Mercer is misquoted in this article; we don't have 800 member organizations! We wish we did, though.]

A Vermonter testified at a state senate hearing on universal health care. “Our most powerful organizing tool was to get people to tell their own stories about the injustices of the for-profit health care system,” one organizer said. Photo: Vermont Workers Center.

A Vermonter testified at a state senate hearing on universal health care. “Our most powerful organizing tool was to get people to tell their own stories about the injustices of the for-profit health care system,” one organizer said. Photo: Vermont Workers Center.

by Mark Dudzic and Jenny Brown for Labor Notes, June 13, 2014

Following the lead of tiny Vermont, advocates of Medicare for All are developing state campaigns to win health care that eliminates insurance companies and covers everyone.

Beginning in 2017, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, allows the federal government to grant a waiver to any state that wants to introduce “innovations”—provided the coverage is at least as comprehensive, extensive, and affordable as coverage under the ACA.

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Next Steps for Single Payer Unclear While Dembrow Keeps Fighting

Senator Michael Dembrow at the HCAO Annual Meeting 2014

Senator Michael Dembrow at the HCAO Annual Meeting 2014

The state senator told Healthcare for All Oregon that a single-payer bill will need bipartisan support in the Oregon Legislature.

by Christen McCurdy for The Lund Report, 6-19-14

Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) told members of Health Care for All Oregon Saturday afternoon that he plans to keep fighting to bring single-payer healthcare to the state – although the next steps remain unclear. 

About 100 people from around the state gathered at Unitarian Church in downtown Portland for HCAO's annual meeting to discuss strategy for a single-payer solution. 

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