« Knowledge is power| Main | Dissatisfaction With Health Care System Doubles Since 1998»

Oct
16
2006

by Maribeth Healy, Oregonians for Health Security

Earlier this year, Governor Kulongoski directed the Oregon Health Policy Commission to develop a plan to achieve universal health coverage within five years. For discussion purposes, they have spent the last few months developing a straw plan to arrive at universal insurance coverage.

The Commission has developed a straw plan that incorporates many of the reforms recently enacted in Massachusetts. With funding from a grant provided by the Northwest Health Foundation, the Commission is in the process of determining the costs for enacting such a plan.

At this point, the straw plan includes an individual coverage mandate. Everyone would be required to purchase health insurance or face penalties which might include tax sanctions. At this point, there would not be a minimum level of coverage required.

A health insurance exchange would help small employers and individuals purchase health insurance by increasing pooling options.

Individuals under 300% of the federal poverty level would be eligible for either a Medicaid program or a state subsidy to purchase private insurance. For individuals within this income range who have access to employer sponsored insurance, a subsidy would be extended to the individual's portion of the insurance premium.

All employers would pay a per worker fee, unless they provide insurance to employees. The level of contribution has not been determined, but commissioners are discussing a contribution similar to the one included in Massachusetts- $295 per year, per employee.

The costs of this plan are still being determined, initial estimates would include a significant state funding increase. As currently written, the commission's plan does not include cost containment measures.

With many different reform proposals under discussion, final details will likely be hammered out through the legislative process. We encourage you to weigh in on plans as they are being developed.

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Oct 17, 2006 5:04:26 PM
kathleen says

It is worrisome that health care reform does not seem to be a big item in coming elections, candidates are not pushing it. A recent poll (see below) seems to confirm that the reason is because this issue is not front and center for the public. I wonder why this is so?

As Elections Approach, Health Care Is A "Second-Tier" Issue

Americans say that high costs and the lack of insurance and access to care are the most pressing health care problems for government to address, Robert Blendon and coauthors report in an article published today as a Health Affairs Web Exclusive. Writing a month before the 2006 congressional election, the researchers also say that health care overall is a "second-tier issue" for the American public, ranking behind Iraq, the economy, and gasoline prices as a priority for government action....

You can read the full article at: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.25.w508

Oct 18, 2006 4:26:03 PM
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A recent critique on the Mass healthplan.....

APM's 'Marketplace' Examines Massachusetts' Health Reform Law
[Oct 13, 2006]

APM's "Marketplace" on Thursday as part of its "The Real Agenda" series on issues in the November elections examined the new Massachusetts health insurance law, "by far the most dramatic" effort to reduce the number of uninsured U.S. residents (Palmer, "Marketplace," APM, 10/12). The Massachusetts law, which began the first phase of enrollment last week, requires residents ages 18 and older to obtain health insurance by July 1, 2007, or be penalized on their income taxes (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/3). The law also requires employers in the state with 11 or more employees to provide coverage for workers or pay an annual fee of $295 per worker and will establish a low-cost, state subsidized health insurance program for residents with annual incomes less than 300% of the federal poverty level and expand Medicaid coverage for state residents (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 9/15). According to APM, some policy experts believe there "just aren't enough dollars" to make Massachusetts' program work, although it "has a better shot" than other state efforts because Massachusetts is wealthy and has few uninsured residents. In addition, the state's law and Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) presidential aspirations will "fundamentally shift the political debate" in the U.S. on health care in 2007, APM reports.

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