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Action -- Tell state senators to reduce health care costs

Write your legislator to Lower Health Care Costs and Increase Accountability
SB 329 to expand the Prescription Drug Purchasing Pool and SB 501 to increase insurance industry accountability will be up for a vote on the state Senate floor this week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.
Your action is needed to help ensure these bills move from the Senate. Write your Senator now to encourage an "aye" vote.


What's At Stake:

SB 329:

In 2003, prescription drug legislation was passed, creating the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, in an effort to provide relief from excessive prescription drug costs to those most in need. Expansion of this program through SB 329 would provide further relief to more Oregon families, and to Oregon businesses, while simultaneously reducing costs to the state budget.

* Currently, only those over 54 years of age with incomes less than 185% of the federal poverty level qualify for participation in the Oregon Prescription Drug Program. SB 329 would remove this age limitation, increase the income requirement to 300% of the federal poverty level, and open eligibility to a limited number of private industry employers who cannot provide prescription drug coverage to their employees.

* Participants in the program are saving an average of 30% on prescriptions, with savings as much as 60%. The savings generated depend on the number of participants. By significantly expanding the number of Oregonians eligible to participate, those already participating and those allowed to join through expansion would both see considerably increased savings.

* According to a recent member survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business, small businesses say the cost of health care is their top concern. Allowing businesses to participate in the program will be good economic development for Oregon.

* Even with the Medicare prescription plan, seniors will pay an average of $792 in out-of-pocket costs in addition to the monthly premiums. By allowing more seniors to participate in the purchasing pool, their out-of-pocket costs can be lowered for their tight budgets, making it easier for them to afford life saving medications.

* For uninsured Oregonians, pharmaceutical companies charge an average of 70% more than what the federal government negotiates for our veterans. By founding this program, the state put itself in position to negotiate on behalf of its citizens, just as the federal government does for veterans. The program is a sensible public program through which the state does not have to provide "hand-outs," but it can easily represent its citizens by providing relief through negotiated pricing

SB 501:
Right now, insurance information is considered proprietary and not be subject to public disclosure requirements, so we do not know where our premiums dollars are going. SB 501-1 makes insurance industry financial information public. The Insurance Division will post the filings on its web site and may create an annual report with the relevant information. It requires carriers to file information based on plan size. Health insurance carriers will file a combined report for groups based on sizes 2-25,
26-50 and 51+

The Insurance Division will have the authority to collect the following information
from all health insurance carriers annually:
* The medical loss ratio [refers to the percentage of dollars actually spent on medical
care versus administrative costs or profit, i.e. total health benefits divided by total
* Administrative costs [with break out of 5 largest salaries of company executives.,
money spent on marketing and a summary of largest non medical expenses].
* The annual rate increase including actuarial value of the plan.
* Surpluses, reserves, contingency funds, and profit margins.

Oregonians for Health Security
9813 SE Hwy 212 Clackamas, OR 97015
(503) 655-2793 (503) 655-2879 fax

homepage: homepage: http://www.healthsecurityaction.com/campaign/reducehealthcarecosts/step1.tcl