The Oregonian -- Opinion
Sanche Llewellyn: Oregon needs health care for all
Tired of rising premiums and huge out-of-pocket costs for health care? In November we can do something about it. Measure 23 (put out by Health Care For All - Oregon) removes the dead weight of private health insurance and sets up a single payer plan financed by a progressive tax, replacing premiums.
It also uses money going to current health programs like Medicaid. You can see the full text of the measure at www.hcao.org. Unlike "socialized medicine," where all doctors work for the government, this is a remake of the funding process. Right now, 25% to 50% of our health care dollars are wasted on overhead - billing, paperwork, collection, etc. Measure 23 will make most of these costs moot, and it will cap administrative costs at 5 percent.
Full coverage for all means no more expensive trips to the emergency room for routine care. The state can use its buying clout to negotiate lower prices for drugs and equipment. Also, the funding is stable. Measure 23 sets up a dedicated fund for health care, which will not be looted in bad times or "kickered" away in good times.
Who should vote for this measure? 1. The uninsured. You will gain access to medical care. 2. The self employed, and those with individual policies. Your costs will fall. The amount you will pay in taxes will be less than what you spend out of pocket now. 3. Those of you on Medicare, you will get a real prescription drug benefit. No more bus trips to Canada. 4. Small business owners. Can't who afford to hire new employees because of premiums? Want to offer benefits but can't afford them? Work a day job to keep your personal coverage? M23 is for you.
Even if you have employer-paid insurance you should vote for M23. With premiums rising 15% per year, those costs are shifted to you. What if you lose your job or want to change careers? Are you trapped in a poor job because of your coverage (the "golden handcuffs")? Each year it is harder to justify the current system. Costs grow at 15% per year - at this rate they will double every six years. Half of personal bankruptcies result from runaway health bills. We spend twice as much as Canada for our broken system, and no end in sight.
What do we get for all that money? People are denied care, especially in rural areas. Wait times for treatment are often longer than in Canada or Britain. Don't believe the industry rhetoric. Drug companies spend twice as much on marketing as they do on R&D. Hospitals lay off nurses but spend millions on shiny new wards to attract high end patients. Countries with national health care - including Cuba - have a longer life expectancy than ours. This is what we get for our money. Who wants you to vote against this measure? The insurance industry, drug companies and tobacco lobbyists. They will spend millions of your dollars to keep their hands deep in our pockets. But we can stop them. Please join me in voting YES on measure 23 in November.
Sanche Llewellyn lives in Southeast Portland.