The Election and HCAO-Action
--by Charlie Swanson, Chair, HCAO Legislative Committee
The results of November 8 will likely mean that many HCAO activists will spend more time following the lead of their friends and neighbors in marginalized communities in resisting an increase in harmful activities and policies. HCAO-activists may be part of a national effort to protect the increases in health care access resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially the Medicaid expansion - more than 400,000 Oregonians have access to health care previously unavailable to them because of this expansion.
The defeat of Measure 97 may result in cutbacks in Medicaid in Oregon even without federal changes. HCAO activists may need to assist with efforts to raise enough revenue to prevent such cuts, but it will be difficult to draft a sufficient revenue package acceptable to Oregon voters in the time frame necessary to prevent Medicaid cutbacks by 2018.
There will be a number of bills in the 2017 Oregon legislative session of importance to our mission, and HCAO-Action’s legislative constituent contact teams and other interested activists will be critical in getting sufficient legislative support. In the longer term, details of our legislation for 2020 have become much more uncertain. The federal government currently funds more than 40% of health care in Oregon, so Congressional action will affect not only the current system, but also how a universal publicly funded system in Oregon must be designed.
It will be important to make legislators and as much of the public as possible aware of the RAND study results. For the 2017 session, we will need to lobby the legislature to follow up the RAND study with a bill to implement a task force looking at the next step. Details of a task force will be defined after the RAND report is dissected.
We have submitted revisions to SB 631, our single-payer health care bill from 2015. It is now LC 1029, and we will pursue a hearing on the bill in both the house and the senate. HCAO activist efforts will be important in making such hearings happen and determining whether such hearings help with the educational effort necessary for the success of our movement.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick has proposed a coordinated care organization (CCO) reform bill. This will be critical in preventing another Trillium fiasco – the sale of Lane County’s CCO to a fortune 500 company, and the excess profit taking stemming from care not given to the poor. It could also determine whether CCO’s are worth preserving in a single-payer system.
Rep. Greenlick has also proposed a hospital community benefits bill, LC 0291. HCAO-Action will be working to strengthen community benefit requirements in Oregon, and activists will need to work hard lobbying the legislature to overcome resistance from the hospital lobby.
Our friends in the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) will be pushing a bill covering all children in Oregon, and HCAO Action activists will be joining this effort.
HCAO and HCAO-Action will continue efforts towards our goal of a 2020 ballot measure. We will have substantial efforts in the Oregon legislature over the next six months to improve the current system in ways that make the system we want a simpler transition. Over this same time period, we will likely put in substantial effort to preserve as much of the Medicaid expansion and other good things of the ACA as possible.
The president-elect has said, “…we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.” He has also said, “Every American deserves access to high quality, affordable health care, not just insurance.” We will be working with other advocates throughout the nation for opportunities to help show what an “Obamacare” replacement that provides such access looks like.