“Our current system is based on structures and assumptions that are now 40 to 50 years old and
reflect the realities of the last century, not the realities of today,” said Kitzhaber, who practiced
emergency medicine for almost 20 years before becoming governor. “Without finding the
courage to rethink these assumptions in light of today’s realities, we will be unable to meet the
health-care challenges facing our state and the nation.”

Download the full news release as a PDF.

Read what the Oregonian had to say:
The ex-governor wants to use Medicaid and Medicare cash to heal the staggering system ::  By Bill Graves :: The Oregonian, Thursday, January 18, 2007

Continue reading Will Kitzhaber and Oregon lead the nation?


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.

Continue reading Profile of Health Policy Commission Straw Plan: Massachusetts Moving West?


by Kathleen O'Connor, Founder and CEO CodeBlueNow!

The year is 1932, The Committee on the Cost of Medical Care said there were four reasons America¹s health care costs so much:

  1. There are too many medical specialists;
  2. There were too many infectious diseases;
  3. We have a disease based system of care not prevention; and
  4. Total lack of community-based health care delivery.

All this is pretty much still true, except for two things. Chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases and Oregon is taking the lead in getting communities involved in health care. 19 of 36 counties in Oregon have taken matters in their own hands to address health care needs in their communities and over 10 other groups are working on system transformation.

CodeBlueNow! is working to find what Oregonians want in a health care system by using our new survey tool, an Opinionnaire®, which helps us find areas of common ground or disagreement.

Continue reading Let Your Voice Be Heard


I just read about the new Institute of Medicine report on America's emergency care system being "At The Breaking Point" and while I'm usually a big fan of the IOM's work my first impression is they blew it this time. (Let me first put out the disclaimer that I have not yet read the entire report.)

The report discusses the major problems in our hospital-based EDs, including overcrowding, people using the ED because they cannot access primary care, and the burden of uninsured patients. I'm with them so far. But their recommendation seems to be to throw money at the hospital ED system. Huh?! EDs are widely acknowledged to be the most expensive and least cost effective way to deliver care, especially primary care. So why would we sink more money into building more EDs and paying them to see more people (inefficiently)? Wouldn't it make a heckuva lot more sense to build up the primary care system, especially the Community Health Centers and other safety net providers who specialize in caring for uninsured and disenfranchised individuals, and who provide great care for the lowest cost? Then there'd be more access, so fewer people would seek care in the ED, they'd have less overcrowding and less "burden." I think the IOM needs to try again on this one.

Continue reading IOM got it wrong


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 or by contacting Oregonians for Health Security at 503-655-2793.

Continue reading What happens when the legislature fails to act?


Guest column
Sara R. Collins, senior program officer, The Commonwealth Fund

Dr. Collins and colleagues issued a report this week: "Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help.” She has contributed an excerpt here for discussion.

Young adults between the ages of 19 and 29 represent one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the population without health insurance in the United States. Often dropped from their parents’ policies or public insurance programs at age 19 or on graduation day, they are left to find insurance on their own as they make the transition from high school to work or college.

Yet, jobs available to young adults are usually low wage or temporary - the type that generally do not come with health benefits. Young adults who are able to go to college full-time may have some protection through their parents’ policies, but upon graduation usually lose access to family coverage.

The number of uninsured young adults ages 19 to 29 climbed to 13.7 million in 2004, an increase of 2.5 million since 2000. Young adults were the fastest-growing age group among the uninsured over this period, accounting for 40 percent of the increase in the uninsured under age 65. Even though they  comprise just 17 percent of the under-65 population, young adults account for 30 percent of the non-elderly uninsured.

Continue reading Rite of Passage?


On April 12, Massachusetts Governor Romney signed into law a plan to extend health insurance coverage to the state's nearly 500,000 uninsured people. How? The law makes health insurance compulsory, like auto insurance. Every "body" is required to have it. The law also requires the state government to figure out ways to make sure insurance is available and theoretically affordable to employers and individuals. 

At first, the new law resulted in tons of favorable media coverage and general jubilation. Since then, on closer scrutiny, Massachusetts’s law has sparked debate, and not all of it is complimentary. Why?

Continue reading You have a body, so insure it!



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