Healthcare Costs Loom for Roseburg Shooting Victims

Samuel Metz, MD

Samuel Metz, MD

The Lund Report October 27, 2015
Guest Opinion by Sam Metz

Everyone who needs healthcare should be able to receive it, regardless of their financial condition

OPINION -- The tragedy of the Roseburg shootings did not end when Christopher Harper-Mercer shot himself after killing nine people at Umpqua Community College. The injured survivors now find themselves unable to pay for the medical care their injuries require.

Much of that medical care is complex: multiple operations, intensive care, long hospital stays, and rehabilitation. Four survivors set up internet donation sites because their families were unable to pay for care. One survivor, newly released from the hospital, received nearly $800,000 from people around the country, which may be sufficient to pay his current and future medical bills. Three other survivors remain hospitalized, one in critical condition. Their families are not as fortunate. As of last week, their combined internet appeals collected less than $20,000, not quite enough for one person to stay five days in an ICU.

What happens to these families if the charity of strangers fails to pay for their care?

How this tragedy should inform firearms legislation remains an incendiary topic. But we should not let the smoke of that issue cloud our vision of the second and ongoing tragedy for the community of Roseburg. Our health care system does not provide health care, even that required by unpredictable acts of psychosis, without devastating families with hospital bills they can never pay in several lifetimes.


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.


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.


Health insurers press for high-deductible, low-benefit policies

by Wendell Potter for the Center for Public Integrity

As we head into the final stretch before next week’s midterm elections, Americans continue to have wide-ranging views of Obamacare, but even many who have an unfavorable view of it say they would rather see Congress improve it than get rid of it.

In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent tracking poll of public opinion about the law, released last Tuesday, almost two-thirds of the public would rather see their member of Congress work to make the law better than to repeal and replace it.

The big, unanswered question, though, is what to fix and how to do it.


Approve health care study funding

Letter to the Register Guard  Oct. 22, 2014
by Jerry Silbert, Eugene

More than $25 billion will be spent on health care in Oregon this year. Of that, more than $8 billion will be spent by the state and local governments.

The cost of health care is taking up an increasingly greater part of spending. About 17 percent or our economy is devoted to health care, and the percentage has been growing each year.

We must reduce the cost of health care, but we must not do it in a way that makes the reductions fall on the backs of middle- and lower-income citizens.

A number of proposals have been made to decrease the cost of health care. In 2013, the Legislature passed House Bill 3260, which proposed to study four major options for funding a comprehensive, universal and affordable health care system in Oregon. The information from such a study would be critical if legislators are to deal with the issue.