----- Original Message -----
From: Oregonians for Health Security
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 9:31 AM
Subject: Monitor, August 16, 2004
Profile of Increasing Insurance Costs: M. 35 not the solution
"By holding public hearings on insurance rates, we can increase transparency in prices charged by insurance companies for health care coverage and medical liability. That is the only way to ensure we receive a fair price for these services," said Maribeth Healey.
With health care costs skyrocketing, many solutions are being proposed. It is important to evaluate the consequences of proposed solutions to ensure they will actually bring down the cost of health care and do not create additional problems.
The allies of Oregonians for Health Security met to weigh those issues regarding Constitutional Amendment 35, the measure to limit jury awards for injured patients. After reviewing research and listening to both sides, Oregonians for Health Security has joined the "Coalition for Real Insurance Reform" to oppose M. 35.
"Constitutional amendment 35 will not reduce the high cost of health care," said Maribeth Healey, Executive Director of Oregonians for Health Security, "Instead it limits the right of patients to access quality care and gives more money to insurance companies."
According to the Center for Studying Health System Change, hospital costs accounted for 53% of the increase in health care costs in 2003. Prescription cost increases were responsible for 20%. "Medical liability is a very minor cost driver. In order to bring down the cost of health care we must address the major cost drivers like increasing hospital and prescription costs," explained Healey.
In 2003, health insurance premiums rose faster than health care costs meaning insurance companies gained even more profits. M. 35 does not reduce insurance rates for medical malpractice or health care coverage. Oregonians for Health Security is committed to enacting common-sense solutions that lower the cost of health care. This includes reforming the way insurance rates are set. We want to see a public hearing process bring transparency to the way that insurance is calculated.
"As a senior, I am very concerned about reducing health care costs, particularly prescription drug prices," said Beaverton senior, Joe Mahoney, "This constitutional amendment does nothing to reduce skyrocketing health care costs. It is the wrong solution."
We look forward to working with patients, consumer advocates and health care providers during the next legislative session to enact solutions that will reduce the cost of health care and expand access.
Between 2001 and 2003 nearly 9 million people lost their employer-sponsored health care coverage.
During the same time, 5 million children were added to government health programs because their parents lost employer-based health care coverage.
Center for Studying Health System Change & Associated Press August 2004
Presidential Politics in Oregon: Health Care remains a Top Issue
Thursday and Friday, Senator John Kerry and President Bush made campaign stops throughout Oregon. Health care was prime issue talked about by both candidates.
In Medford, Springfield and Portland Kerry pledged his support of expanding health care access and reducing costs. At a rally with over 25,000 Oregonians in Portland, Kerry said that while wages had declined over the last four years, health care costs have increased 50%. In explaining his plan to allow all Americans to buy into the health care plans currently offered to members of Congress, Kerry explained, "We're going to prove that every families health care in America is just as important as every politician."
President Bush spoke to a smaller crowd of supporters at a closed event in Beaverton. On the subject of health care, Bush identified priorities including creation of small business insurance purchasing pools, support of community health centers and modernization of health care to reduce cost and medical errors. Regarding Medicare, Bush claimed, "We got the job done in Medicare." Bush also expressed support for medical liability reform.
As Oregon continues to be a battleground state, it is important to keep pressing candidates to fix the health care crisis.
Oregonians for Health Security
9813 SE Hwy 212 Clackamas, OR 97015 (503) 655-2793 (503) 655-2879 fax http://www.oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org