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economic justice | health | human & civil rights

State legislature kicks 40,000 off Oregon Health Plan

Article in today's Eugene Register-Guard and my letter to the editor in response.
Register-Guard: Thank you for your Oct. 26 article on the decline of the Oregon Health Plan. The comfortable, self-righteous, middle-class state legislators have no understanding of what it means to be poor. Never mind mental illness or drug addiction, often caused BY poverty; just being poor is enough to create constant instability in our lives. The problem is unemployment, low-wage jobs, part-time and temp work, insufficient Social Security and disability payments.

The state legislature has kept OHP in an uproar with constant changes. They split it into two programs, Plus and Standard, and cut benefits from Standard (mental health, addiction, dental) prescriptions. People died. They pushed us into HMOs, supposedly to save money, even though this just adds an extra layer of administrative cost, and set up premiums and copays people can't pay. Now they're proposing to reinstate some of the benefits they cut, but will reduce the list of illnesses that are covered and cut hospitalization so your life has to be threatened to use it. Read More >>

Comment: People with chronic, and life-threatening, disabilities are not getting even the most basic medical care- including for psychiatric crisis-treatment and psychotropic medications (for schizoaffective disorder, severe depression, schizophenia, etc.). It is no exaggeration to say that many lives have already been lost.

It is also completely outrageous that for the lack of a $6 dollar payment, someone would lose their health benefits for six months. For those of us who work with these clients on a daily basis, it is clear that a much simpler (and much more comprehensive) system of health care is urgently needed (and one that is not punitive). All of us, insured or not, must strongly demand that OHP and other such programs be designed to work effectively for the people that need it most. Universal healthcare, NOW!!

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