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JOIN YOUR LOCAL ACTION TEAM!         MAY 30 HCAO ANNUAL MEETING

Help Plan Next Steps Towards Single Payer in Oregon

Register now for the May 30th HCAO Annual Meeting

Health Care for All-Oregon will discuss next steps in our campaign for single payer health care in Oregon at the HCAO Annual Meeting Saturday, May 30, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m, at the SEIU 503 Ballroom, 6401 SE Foster, Portland. Representatives of our 110 member organizations and chapters, as well as other HCAO activists from around the state will attend (you are invited, register now!), review progress during the 2015 legislative session and plan next steps.

Also at the May 30 HCAO Annual Meeting, we will get updates from Senator Michael Dembrow on progress on SB 631 (the Health Care for All Oregon Plan), HB 2828 (the Health Care Study Bill) and other legislation supported by HCAO during the 2015 legislative session.

Finally, members will have the opportunity to consider and vote on critical bylaw revisions and a slate of leaders including the Board of Directors and Officers. Nominations are also accepted from the floor.  

Click HERE for the May 30 HCAO Membership Meeting agenda.                

See you there!                                                                   

 -Lee Mercer, HCAO Board President

Register now for the May 30th HCAO Annual Meeting

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.

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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.

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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.”

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The GOP Gang of Supremes Go After Obamacare

Published: March 6, 2015 | NationofChange | Op-Ed
by Jim Hightower

Look out — the Supreme Court’s black-robed gang of far-right ideologues are rampaging again! The five-man clan is firing potshots at Obamacare — and their political recklessness endangers justice, the Court’s own integrity, and the health of millions of innocent bystanders.

In an attempt to override the law, these so-called “justices” have jumped on a wagonload of legalistic BS named King v. Burwell. But that case is a very rickety legal vehicle. It sprang from a frivolous lawsuit concocted in 2010 by a right-wing front group funded by such self-serving oligarchs as the Koch brothers, Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. The chairman of the front group was neither delicate nor discrete in describing the purpose of the lawsuit as a raw political assault on Obamacare: “This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene,” he howled at the time. “I do not care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart … I don’t care who does it, whether it’s some court some place or the United States Congress.”

So much for the intellectual depth of the King case, which was fabricated on a twisted interpretation of only four words in the 906-page health care law. The plaintiffs claim that the law prohibits insurance subsidies to the millions of low and middle-income Americans living in the 36 states that did not set up a state exchange — thus making health care unaffordable to millions of hard-working Americans and small business who are purchasing insurance on the federal exchange, essentially, nullifying the heart of Obamacare.

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Lincoln County turns out for Health Care Justice

Twenty Lincoln County Health Care for All-Oregon Advocates gathered at Newport's Visual Arts Center on Wednesday, Feb. 11, for a lunch-hour “Echo Event,” in conjunction with the 2015 Rally on the Capitol Steps taking place at the same time in Salem, and with several other similar regional events around the state. Photo by Deane Bristow.

 

Letter to Representative Barreto

by Frank Erickson, MD

Thank you for seeing us yesterday in your office - I hope to be in touch with you regularly about the reform of health care in Oregon.

Regarding our unfinished discussion on health care as a human right and the need for single payer health care reform, here are a few thoughts on the foundation of our position, which is shared by thousands of supporters throughout the state:

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 217A (III) of 10 December 1948)

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

We are a member of the United Nations and are obligated to follow resolutions as signatories, although we have been failing to uphold portions, such as this one on health care and the one about torture.

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How Obamacare Is Unsustainable: Why We Need a Single-Payer Solution for All Americans

John Geyman’s timely book on ACA and single payer
Posted by Don McCanne MD on Thursday, Feb 5, 2015

This entry is from Dr. McCanne's Quote of the Day, a daily health policy update on the single-payer health care reform movement. The QotD is archived on PNHP's website

Right now we have a chance to change history. We should make widely available John Geyman’s book based on sound, effective policy – just what the nation desperately needs..

By John Geyman, M.D.
Copernicus Healthcare, January, 2015

As we all know, the intense debate over Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a polarizing issue that sharply divides political parties and the public. Confusion reigns over its benefits, problems and prospects as claims and counterclaims fill press and media coverage.

This book is an attempt to make sense out of all of this - to cut through the rhetoric, disinformation and myths to assess what is good and bad about the ACA, and to ask whether or not it can remedy our system's four main problems - uncontrolled costs, unaffordability, barriers to access, and mediocre, often poor quality of care.

In Part One, we will briefly trace historical roots of various reform attempts over the years, and summarize some of the major trends that have changed the delivery system, professional roles and values, the ethics of health care, and the role of government vs. the private sector. In Part Two, we will compare the ACA's promises with realities of what it has accomplished, examine its initial outcomes on access, cost containment, affordability and quality of care, ask whether its flaws can be fixed with a private insurance industry, and point out the lessons that we can already take away from the first five years of the law. In Part Three, we will discuss the many myths that are perpetuated by opponents of single-payer national health insurance (NHI) and show how that approach stands ready to deal directly with what has become a national disgrace - our increasingly fragmented and cruel health care system that serves corporate interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. We will make the case for NHI in three ways - economic, social/political, and moral. Most other advanced countries around the world came to this conclusion many years ago.

Why this book now? With the 2014 midterm elections behind us, divisions between the parties are even more polarized. The future of health care is even more uncertain. The 2016 election cycle is already underway, and both parties have to confront the failures of yet another incremental attempt to reform our so-called health care system. We have a short year and a half to re-assess where we are and try once again to get health care reform right. As much of the public knows all too well, the stakes get higher every day.

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