Letter to Senator Rod Monroe

from Benjamin Gerritz, HCAO Vice-President

June 5, 2015

Honorable Senator, 

I am writing you to urge you to support HB2828 for a healthy Oregon.  

As a lifelong Oregonian and your constituent, I take great pride living in a state where our legislation is known for propelling our country forward.  This was true with the passage of the Motor Voter Bill this session.  I appreciate your leadership in passing this important Bill and I am asking you to continue to exercise leadership through passing HB2828 funding the Bill with $400,000.  

This Bill will help bolster common sense solutions for making Oregon's healthcare more accessible and cost effective.  It is a sound approach given our current growth in healthcare expenditures is simply not sustainable.  Too many Oregonians are struggling with paying rent let alone the high costs of insurance premiums and copays when they get sick.  This is translating to people avoiding care which we pay a fortune for in the end with unnecessary emergency room visits.  HB2828 is a common sense opportunity to create a healthier Oregon.  A healthier Oregon increases productivity.  Increased productivity supports a thriving economy.   

Funding this Bill not only makes sense in terms of Oregonian's health, it will also benefit local businesses.  Our current approach to health care makes it challenging for our business community to project budgets with costs continually fluctuating.  This makes it difficult to allocate additional dollars for economic opportunities.  HB2828 would produce solutions for resolving this so employers could put more money into creating jobs.

Studies of healthcare financing conducted in other states have demonstrated that high quality care could be offered to people at a cost savings of $1,000/yr.  For Oregon, this would mean $4 Billion in annual savings.  A large amount of money that could help significantly with funding for our schools.  

I understand that balancing our state's budget can be challenging.  Tough decisions have to be made about where funds ought to be allocated.  In making these decisions, I hope our Oregon continues to move our state forward for our people and our economy.  Passing and funding HB2828 at $400,000 will produce solutions for our state's healthcare while bolstering our revenue and leading to the creation of new and needed jobs.  

Thank you for your time and I look forward to expressing my appreciation for your yes vote on HB2828.

Solidarity Always,

NY Assembly passes bill to create universal health coverage

by The Associated Press , May 27, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Assembly has voted 89-47 for legislation to establish publicly funded universal health coverage in a so-called single payer system.

All New Yorkers could enroll if the bill became law, but an identical bill hasn't advanced in the state Senate.

With no patient premiums, deductibles or co-payments for hospital and doctor visits, testing, drugs or other care, New York Health would pay providers through collectively negotiated rates.

It would take insurers out of the mix, funded instead through a progressive payroll tax paid 80 percent by employers and 20 percent by employees.

Waivers would be sought so federal funds now received for New Yorkers in Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus would apply.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chief sponsor, predicts it would save New Yorkers more than $45 billion annually.

Assembly Republicans doubt that estimate.


Single-Payer Activists Outline Possible 2016 Ballot Measure

While a legislative effort for single-payer does not have enough support to pass, particularly in the Senate, Sen. Michael Dembrow believes a ballot measure could bring universal healthcare to Oregonians before the end of the decade, using a template to be decided by a comprehensive study.

by Chris Gray
The Lund Report, May 5, 2015

Single-payer advocates came to the Capitol on Monday to air their passions on behalf of a bill that’s not going anywhere, but a pair of efforts on the horizon may bolster their ideas for replacing private health insurance with a single-payer health plan for everyone.

Charlie Swanson of Health Care of All Oregon told The Lund Report that his organization has submitted three potential ballot measures to the Secretary of State’s office, to put before the voters in 2016. His organization will decide later this month whether to begin collecting signatures.

“The most ideal time would be on the 2016 ballot, and that’d be great if that could happen,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, Oregon’s longtime champion of single-payer health insurance. “We don’t want to go to the ballot until the organizers could guarantee us a million votes,” he added, reserving the possibility to delay the vote to 2018 or 2020.

Swanson explained that none of the ballot initiatives include details about how the system would actually work. One measure says that healthcare is a human right, and would require the state to guarantee healthcare to everyone. Another calls upon the Legislature to enact a universal healthcare system based on the outcome of House Bill 2828, which funds a comprehensive study.


Report on SB 631 Hearing

Today’s testimony was the most powerful and eloquent of all the three hearings on single payer health care I have attended since 2011.

After the testimony of Sen. Dembrow, Sen. Monnes Anderson made a comment to the effect that other countries offering universal health care pay more taxes than Americans do. That is correct. We need a one sentence response to comments like that. Here is my offering.

The amount of money that Oregonians currently pay in health insurance premiums and out of pocket payments exceeds the additional taxes they would pay to participate in a statewide single payer program.

That reduction is corroborated by all 28 American studies of single payer health care and the experiences of all single payer health care systems in the US and around the world. The reward for relabeling what Oregonians already pay as premiums and out of pocket payments is a net reduction in health care costs, a lower cost of doing business in Oregon, the end of labor strikes over benefits, assured access to every family regardless of income or employment, the ability of Oregonians to seek care from any provider, and guaranteed payment to providers no matter who their patient might be.

The penalty is the indignity of relabeling health care payments as “taxes.” Some voters in Oregon would still find that penalty intolerable. Fortunately, not all of them.

Samuel Metz. MD

Paul Perkins – SB 631 Hearing – Written Testimony

I’m a self-employed guy who provides administrative and documentation services to a number of clients from my home in Beaverton. My virtual assistant business shrank dramatically after the economic crash in 2008, and even at its best it didn’t produce enough income to afford health insurance. I’d heard stories like this for years but never expected to end up telling one myself.

In May of 2013, I was hospitalized with a condition that required emergency surgery. I was less than 48 hours in the hospital. The bills began coming in with sonic speed, almost before I got home. There were some preliminary test charges I knew about and paid, then the hospital bill came and I thought the nightmare was over. But I started getting nickeled and dimed for all this other stuff, including a bill in excess of $450 for some person I'd never seen to spend a few seconds reading the X-rays and CT scans. Then when I thought it was all over, the surgeon's bill came separately, two months later, for another $9,000. The bills totaled nearly $33,000. Even after negotiating for a lower amount due to my limited means, the bills wiped out my modest life savings.

Read More

How American health care turned patients into consumers

     Dr. Philip Caper

     Dr. Philip Caper

by Dr. Philip Caper, Special to the BDN
Bangor Daily News, March 19, 2015

A clash of cultures is rapidly developing among those of us who see the mission of the health care system to be primarily the diagnosis and healing of illness and those who see it primarily as an opportunity to create personal wealth.

The concept of health care primarily as a business is uniquely American, and it has gained ascendancy during the last few decades. While there have always been a few greedy doctors, businessmen-wealth-seekers — not doctors — now dominate the medical-industrial complex. They include for-profit insurance, medical device and pharmaceutical companies as well as for-profit and nonprofit corporate providers of health care services, such as the three large hospital systems in Maine.

Partly because of the Affordable Care Act, they also include a rapidly growing army of lawyers, consultants and policy wonks who are creating lucrative businesses helping hapless “consumers” — formerly “patients” — “navigate” their way through the grotesquely byzantine maze our health care system has become.

This shift in emphasis from patient care to money profoundly has affected the practice of medicine and resulted in the clash of cultures within health care. As increasing numbers of “providers” — formerly “doctors” — become employees of large health care corporations — formerly community hospitals — we have come under increasing pressure to diagnose profitable diseases and order profitable tests and procedures without enough regard to the benefits or harm accruing to patients. Hospital “CEOs” — formerly “administrators” — trained in the ethics and practices of business rather than health care are incentivized to configure their “product lines” — formerly “services” — to produce the largest “profits” — formerly “margins.”