Health Care Reform Is The Most Important Issue In Every Race For Public Office In Our State Of Oregon For The Foreseeable Future

John Frohnmayer, candidate for United States Senate, is supporting the Oregon Community Health Care Bill in Oregon and a single payer system at the federal level. These two compatible and complimentary positions on health care reform set John Frohnmayer above all of his competitors. Both of these approaches to health care reform reject the failed private health insurance industry as a model for the future. Despite the fact that a majority of Oregonians would agree that the private health insurance industry has failed and will continue to fail to solve Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis, it still takes an enormous amount of courage for John Frohnmayer to stand up for this kind of fundamental change and speak truth to power.

The private health insurance industry was not brought over on the Mayflower, nor is it to be found in the Constitution of the United States of America, nor the Oregon Constitution, nor the Old Testament. The private health insurance industry is NOT a sacred institution.

Within the next 20 months, before the end of the next legislative session, every candidate for public office, every elected official and every voter will have to make a choice about the fundamental direction of health care reform in our state. 

Choice #1. Support the Oregon Community Health Care Bill
The Oregon Community Health Care Bill is the solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis because it:
A. Is the most market driven health care plan in America.
B. Removes the burden from businesses of providing health care and places it on the state of Oregon.
C. Reduces health care costs to public institutions in Oregon by 20%.
D. Provides actual health care not just health insurance.
E. Eliminates the term, "preexisting condition." If the procedure is covered you're covered.
F. Provides affordable health care - on a sliding scale according to income - as good as that received by any public employee in Oregon to anyone willing to make a commitment to Oregon for one year as a registered voter.
Setting the stage for Choices 2 & 3

Medical Miranda Warnings Now Required
Anything you say or don't say to your doctor can and will be held against you by the private health insurance industry in a court of law to prevent you from collecting previously approved benefits.

The private health insurance industry is in the business of making a PROFIT. It is NOT in the business of providing health care to Oregonians and Americans.

We all know a million horror stories about our dysfunctional multitiered private health insurance class system. Here is one that pretty much sums up the for profit private health insurance industry culture.

The Health Net Insurance Company Was Fined A Million Dollars By California For Tying Bonuses To Patient Policy Cancellations

Health insurer tied bonuses to dropping sick policy holder
By Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer  November 9, 2007,0,4409342.story?coll=la-home-center
One of the state's largest health insurers set goals and paid bonuses based in part on how many individual policyholders were dropped and how much money was saved.

Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.

The revelation that the health plan had cancellation goals and bonuses comes amid a storm of controversy over the industry-wide but long-hidden practice of rescinding coverage after expensive medical treatments have been authorized.

These cancellations have been the recent focus of intense scrutiny by lawmakers, state regulators and consumer advocates. Although these "rescissions" are only a small portion of the companies' overall business, they typically leave sick patients with crushing medical bills and no way to obtain needed treatment.

Woodland Hills Insurer Fined $1 Million by State
Posted On: November 16, 2007 by Rice & Bloomfield

Last Thursday, the state slapped Health Net, Inc. with a $1 Million fine. The insurance company set goals for cancellation on policies and paid bonuses to employees based on how many policies the dropped and how much money that saved the company. While they spend millions of dollars on commercials to make people think their goal is to help, these types of incidents show how insurance companies really work. Unfortunately, trusting your insurance company may be a mistake.

The fine came after the company mislead state investigators about bonuses paid to employees on more than one occasion. As we have found to be the case on many occasions with insurance companies, what they tell you they are going to do, does not always match what they actually do.

Basically, when a Health Net insurance employee found people who were sick, and made large claims and cancelled them, Health Net rewarded them. Health Net was able to find the people that needed protection the most, and hurt them. As insurance companies always have an excuse for their conduct, Health Net claimed that the cancellations were necessary root out fraud and keep premiums down. It appears that it did so by committing fraud. The fine is one of the largest in the history of the Department of Managed Care. 

Go to the library or your video store and get Michael Moore's Sicko for an entertainingly unexpected enlightening perspective on this subject. Invite your friends. Make popcorn and talk about it after the closing credits.

Choice #2. Support Senate Bill 329 - Passed by the 2007 legislature but thankfully unfunded.
A. SB329 relies on the failed private health insurance industry model.
B. SB329 will cost a Billion Oregon taxpayer dollars.
C. SB329 is so complex that its authors couldn't have made it more difficult for voters to understand if they tried.
D. SB329 fails to address the skyrocketing and unstoppable increased costs of public employee health care premiums resulting in larger decreases in delivered public services every year.
E. SB329 was written without any consideration or discussion of the ideas presented by elected officials in the letter below.

The official responsible for overseeing the disastrous process that lead to this bill is Speaker of the Oregon House, Jeff Merkley, who demonstrated a disturbingly undemocratic trait he holds in common with Valdimir Putin, Pervez Musharff and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All of these political leaders claim to uphold the processes of democratic government. But when it comes to allowing the competition of ideas in the public marketplace, which if put on the public table could threaten the cozy relationships these men share with their powerful allies, that competition of alternative thought is not allowed and kept out of sight. Here is the damning evidence condeming candidate for US Senate Jeff Merkley. It is a letter from elected officials who support the Oregon Community Health Care Bill asking the legislative leadership to include the Oregon Community Health Care Bill in discussion and debate early in the legislative session. Speaker Jeff Merkley not only refused to include these ideas in the debate he did not have the courtesy to respond to those who signed the letter. These signers represent nearly a million Oregonians.

March 12, 2007

Dear House Speaker Merkley and Senate President Courtney:
The current legislative debate over health care reform in our state does not include our view that the profit oriented private health insurance industry must not be the model upon which a solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis should be based and that Oregon elected officials - public employees - voters and taxpayers must have equal access to the same level of health care not a perpetuation of our current multitiered health insurance class system.

We request that you find a place holder bill in each chamber which would substitute in its entirety the language of the Oregon Community Health Care Bill (see attached) so that an alternative choice may be discussed and debated this session. The Oregon Community Health Care Bill is the only current fully formed piece of proposed legislation which supports our vision of health care reform. We would welcome others that also meet our requirements.

Thank you for your attention.

Richard Ellmyer - Oregon Community Health Care Bill author 
Sam Adams - Portland City Council
Jeff Cogen - Multnomah County Commissioner
Edwars "Chip" Enbody - Hubbard City Council
Darrell Flood - Mayor of Lafayette
Bill Hall - Lincoln County Commissioner
Jim Needham - Mollala City Council
Michelle Ripple - Wilsonville City Council
Mary Schamehorn - Mayor of Bandon
Pete Sorenson - Lane County Commissioner

Choice #3. Support the status quo
The federal government of the United States of America and the American private health insurance industry have FAILED to provide affordable health care to Oregonians and Oregon's public institutions. As a result of these failures Oregon is facing a moral and economic health care crisis based on the following conditions:
1. Huge numbers of Oregonians have no health insurance. (about 1 million within a year)
2. Huge numbers of Oregonians pay for such costly health insurance that they can afford little or no actual health care.
3. All of Oregon's public institutions are facing skyrocketing and unstoppable increases in health care costs which significantly diminish the quality and quantity of services that need to be provided to the public

FYI - A Sampling Of Maximum Current Public Employer Contributions To Public Employee Health Insurance Benefits
Dollar figures are for individual paychecks per month.

Multnomah County - $ 1,459
City of Eugene - $ 1,256
Portland Public Schools - $ 1,217
Oregon State University - $1,188
Portland State University - $ 1,129
City of Gresham - $1,120
University of Oregon - $ 1,084
Beaverton School District - $ 921
Multnomah County ESD - $ 768
Metro Regional Government - $ 763
Lane ESD - $ 750
City of Portland - $ 555
State of Oregon - Governor Ted Kulongoski's administrative staff was unable or unwilling to provide this public data.

A million uninsured Oregon taxpayers and perhaps another million underinsured Oregon taxpayers dutifully send in our tax payments which make it more difficult for us to afford health care. Most public employees are not in the same boat as the rest of us who are actually paying for their luxury liner sized health insurance premiums. How high do these luxurious benefits have to go before we voters and taxpayers say, "Enough. We're mad as hell and we're not going to pay this anymore. We demand health care as good as any public employee."

Call To Candidates For Public Office
Please join the first enlightened candidates for public office in Oregon to step forward this election cycle and demonstrate both good judgement and courage by supporting the Oregon Community Health Care Bill:
US Senate candidate John Frohnmayer
Portland city council candidate Jeff Bissonnette 
Portland city commissioner and Portland mayoral candidate Sam Adams. (see letter above)

Every candidate for public office anywhere in Oregon, school board, ESD board, community college board, city council, county commission and legislature must choose one of the health care reform options mentioned above before the end of the next legislative session in 20 months. I urge you to join those who signed the letter above in support of the Oregon Community Health Care Bill as well as candidates Frohnmayer, Bissonnette and Adams. These candidates deserve your attention and support now and your vote later.

Richard Ellmyer