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Oregonians for Health Security newsletter

The Weekly Monitor, Oregonians for Health Security's weekly newsletter of health care happenings for the week of November 15, 2004.
Profile of Oregon Health Action Campaign Legislative Priorities

OHAC, an OHS ally, held its annual membership meeting to hear the latest health care information and approve their legislative agenda.
The legislative priorities for OHAC will focus on the three targeted program areas- universal access, institutional accountability and maintaining and expanding health services for Oregon's medically and economically vulnerable.
Under the universal care priority is a proposal to expand health care coverage to all children. The group is also looking at a constitutional amendment stating health care as a right.
In order to hold profit and not-for-profit health institutions accountable to community health needs, OHAC supports enacting financial assistance requirements for all Oregon hospitals. Hospitals would be required to provide free care to everyone under 200% of the federal poverty level. The group also supports creation of a hospital rate regulation board to review hospital charges, much like the Public Utilities Commission reviews electric rates.
OHAC believes in approaching changes to the Oregon Health Plan from a point of values. They believe the most vulnerable should receive help first and that all OHP funds, including those dedicated to the Family Health Insurance Assistance Program (FHIAP) should be targeted in this manner. The group believes current benefits must be maintained and that new revenue is critical to preserving access to health care services for low-income Oregonians.
Positive changes for health care in Oregon are possible this session, but we will need your help. Please contact OHS to learn how you can get involved.

OHS Welcomes New Ally- Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

We are pleased to announce Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon has joined as an ally. EMO is an association of 17 Christian denominations including Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox bodies across the state that work together for unity and justice. Through community ministry, public policy advocacy, theological education and dialogue and environmental ministry, EMO participates in the collective task of building a just and compassionate world for all people.
We look forward to working together to improve access to quality, affordable and secure health care.

Tennessee Moves To Dissolve Medicaid Managed Care Program

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen announced that he intends to dissolve TennCare, the state's Medicaid managed care program, and return it to a traditional Medicaid program, unless "last-ditch" talks between the state and advocates for TennCare beneficiaries result in an agreement about program reforms.
TennCare, which was launched in 1994 to expand traditional Medicaid benefits, provides health care coverage to 1.3 million low-income, uninsured and disabled Tennessee residents -- about 22% of the state's population. The Governor blames mounting costs, particularly prescription drugs and a loss in federal funding.
To reduce costs, the Governor had a plan to reduce benefits. For some beneficiaries, the plan would have imposed limits on coverage for hospital stays, physician visits and prescription drugs, established co-pays and increased premiums. Advocates recently won a court case preventing the implementation of this plan.
Dissolving TennCare would eliminate coverage for about 430,000 Tennessee residents, including as many as 120,000 children. Residents who would lose coverage include people with chronic illnesses who cannot obtain private health coverage, people considered medically needy and working residents who do not have employer-sponsored insurance.

The Weekly Dose

According to a post-election survey (of consumers) commissioned by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, 40% of respondents said that increased health care costs and prescription drug prices should serve as legislative priorities for the new Congress.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, November 2004

Oregonians for Health Security
9813 SE Hwy 212 Clackamas, OR 97015 (503) 655-2793 (503) 655-2879 fax  http://www.oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org