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The people take to the streets to enact their own solutions.  That is just what has happened with health care this year.  During the 2005 legislative session a myriad of reform proposals were proposed, many passed the Senate, but were ultimately killed in the House.

The legislature’s failure to address the skyrocketing cost of health care left a void advocates are attempting to fill through the initiative process.  Seven ballot measures were proposed this year to address the health care crisis.  They include measures aimed at reducing cost, increasing access and ensuring accountability.  Many of them are modeled after or exact replicas of legislation that failed in 2005.  Four of the seven initiatives are racing toward the July 7 deadline to gather signatures.

To help people learn about the measures and share their ideas for health care reform, Oregonians for Health Security and our allies across the state have been holding a series of health care forums.  In addition to sharing their own experiences, voters discuss proposed solutions and offer their own ideas to make health care more affordable and accessible.  We are holding a Portland Health Care Forum Tuesday, June 13 from 7-9 PM at the St. Andrew’s Catholic Church (806 NE Alberta).  The Portland Forum is sponsored by Oregonians for Health Security, Oregon Action and Jobs with Justice.

Below is a taste of each of the initiatives, more detailed information and links to their websites are available at www.OregoniansForHealthSecurity.org or by contacting Oregonians for Health Security at 503-655-2793.

The measures to reduce costs include:

  • Initiative 122 which expands Oregon Prescription Drug Program to allow all Oregonians without prescription coverage to enroll. Currently only those 54 and older with limited incomes can enroll. This initiative would remove the age and income restrictions.
  • Initiative 149, which has not been approved to gather signatures, is a Fair Share Health Care bill that requires all employers with at least 4,500 employees to pay at least 9% of payroll in health insurance benefits or pay into a fund. The Labor Commission would then use the funds to provide health insurance for employees.

Proposals aimed at increasing access to health care include:

  • Initiative 40, called Hope for Oregon Families, which would amends Oregon’s constitution to add a section declaring “Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity and there is an obligation for the state to ensure that every Oregon resident has access to effective and affordable health care as a fundamental right.” This constitutional amendment requires the legislature to adopt a plan no later than July 1, 2009 that “incrementally expands health care coverage so that every Oregon resident is able to obtain effective and affordable health care on a regular basis”
  • Initiative 111 requires the 2007 legislature to enact the Healthy Oregon plan to achieve universal health coverage no later than November 7, 2008. The plan must provide universal coverage that is affordable to all Oregonians combining state, federal, local, employee and employer funding with a focus on preventative care. 
  • Initiative 143: The Family Health And Wellness Act Of 2006 which raises tobacco taxes by 60 cents to provide health insurance for all Oregon children, restores OHP-Standard benefits for 25,000 and strengthens FHIAP to help insure up to 75,000. In addition, the initiative increases funding for tobacco prevention and education and increases provider rates for treating OHP patients.

Finally, proposals aimed at ensuring accountability include:

  • Initiative 105, the Nursing Home Residents Safe Staffing Act, which increases required nursing home staffing levels for each shift and type of staff category. Facilities would be required to post actual staffing ratios in view for residents and visitors.
  • Initiative 148, the Reasonable Health Insurance Rates Act which establishes a health insurance rate review board with the power to disapprove unreasonable insurance rate increases. The seven member governor appointed commission could hold hearings and require insurance companies to prove their rates were reasonable.
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Join the dialogue here

Jun 8, 2006 1:52:22 PM
sweet lou says

Thanks for this primer on current initiatives. With federal and state government failing so monumentally in the healthcare arena, it's heartening to see such a high level of advocacy and activism.

Jun 12, 2006 1:17:08 PM
S. Hobbs says

When I think of the man who can not afford his insulin or the another person who is afraid of having a stroke or heart attack because he can not afford his high blood pressure medicine, I am left wondering how many people are going to have to die before the issue of health care is taken seriously. It does not pay to be poor and get sick. No one I have talked to asked to find themselves in the situation that they are in. They are not asking for a hand out, but a hand up. With proper health care I could go back to work. I could pay my taxes and I would have my own health insurance. I would be off the "rolls" as it were. I hate the fact I am having to depend on others. I would much rather take care of myself!!!

It will be with great interest that I will be following the the possible clinical trials concerning the computer model and the use of medical assistants. While I understand something is better than nothing I have concerns. A main one being the education of the medical assistants. I respect that while they are well trained to assist doctors I am concerned that as "front line" providers they do not have the training to diagnose. I never thought I would see the day that a Family practice or Internal Medicine doctor would be considered a specialist.

When I was being seen at a community clinic I offered to volunteer in exchange for my medical care. I did not care what job it was. Even if it meant vacuuming carpets or cleaning the toilets. I was told this could not be done. Barter has been considered a means of exchange for thousand of years. Why then is barter not considered as a means of payment in exchange for health care? So many hours of health care for so many hours of work.

I have been sitting here for the past hour stewing. I understand the frustration so many people here are feeling when it comes to the issue of health insurance. What compounds my problem is the disease I am dealing with falls under the category of Orphan disease. For a disease to fall under that category 200,000 people or less in the US must have the disease. The disease I am dealing with is Type Two Trigeminal Neuralgia. The Trigeminal Neuralgia Association data base shows that only 50,000 people in the US have this disorder. The Oregon Health Plan will not pay to treat this disease.

Jun 12, 2006 1:28:49 PM
S. Shearer says

According to Sunday's Oregonian editorial "A health care discourse that may elude Oregon," Initiative 111 has already faltered (will not get enough signatures to get on the ballot) and HOPE (#40) seems to be in trouble too. Consequently, concludes the editorial, "something shocking [may] appear in Oregon's mailboxes in November: a ballot without a single measure on one of the state's most urgent issues." Is this possible?


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