A summary of the initiative is on our website. The initiative will set up a state-run medical insurance program that will cover all Oregon residents. Medical insurance will be disconnected from employment, so you will not lose your insurance when you get laid off. The program will have a dedicated fund, separate from the rest of the state budget, so the state legislature cannot move medical insurance funds to other programs. Because it has a separate fund, this program will have no impact on the state budget.
The program will cover "medically necessary health services," as determined by your doctor, including mental illness treatment, prescription drugs, dental, long-term care, and alternative medical treatments by licensed providers.
There will be 3 sources of funding:
1. Tax money now going into government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
2. A progressive personal income tax of 0-8 percent of TAXABLE income. "Progressive" means that the amount of tax you pay will be based on the amount of your taxable income -- like present state and federal income taxes. People making 150 percent or less of the federal poverty level will not pay this tax.
3. A progressive tax on employer's payroll of 3-11.5 percent.
There will be no deductibles, copayments or other charges. Your only cost will be the tax you pay.
A board, two-thirds elected, one-third appointed by the governor, will run the program.
Why will this work? Because we are eliminating the middleman -- the insurance companies. Their high overhead costs of 15-30 percent, as compared to Medicare's 3 percent, are part of what is keeping medical insurance costs so high. Our present system is needlessly complicated, fragmented and disorganized, with a lot of waste. By simplifying the system and reducing overhead, we can afford to cover everyone.
HCAO Portland has classes and speakers available to explain the initiative. We need people to sponsor home meetings on the initiative, pass out our literature at public events, do phone banking and canvassing, etc. Please subscribe to our email list for more information.