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