Dr. Kitzhaber's Rx: Radical surgery [Unfortunately, Perhaps Tragically, It's The Wrong Operation]

The former governor's bold plan for health care reform

Friday, January 19, 2007


"Kitzhaber's plan, which he dubbed the Oregon Better Health Act, would pool all the public money spent on health care -- taking in Medicare, Medicaid and the federal tax deductions received by employers who provide health coverage."

The Oregonian's definition of "all the public money spent on health care" carelessly or deliberately omits the 1.25 Billion Dollars / year, which increases about 156 Million Dollars / year, paid in public money by Oregon's public jurisdictions for public employee health care benefits. As a result of these skyrocketing and unstoppable increases, every year our Oregon public institutions deliver 156 Million Dollars less in public services. Neither Kitzhaber's scheme nor any other currently proposed health care plan addresses this critical expenditure of public money except the Oregon Community Health Care Bill.

The health care reform ideas of Kitzhaber et. al. continue to rely on the failed private health insurance industry model. This model offers no relief to Oregon's public institutions and Oregon's taxpayers who distressingly observe fewer public services being delivered to them year after year as far as the eye can see.

Former Democratic candidate for president, John Kerry, campaigned for a health care system that would give every American the same health care coverage afforded to a U.S. Senator. Newly elected Multnomah county chair, Ted Wheeler, has for eighteen years, advocated for the premise of his master's thesis which is a single payer health care system that would also deliver to every American the same health care coverage afforded to a U.S. Senator. By contrast, the health care reform plans of Kitzhaber et. al. are designed to perpetuate a multitiered health care class system in Oregon. 

Unless and until the Oregon legislature (and the press?) comes to grips with these two most important considerations in health care reform it will not solve Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis by bringing affordable health care to Oregonians and Oregon's public institutions in the 2007 session nor any future session.

Richard Ellmyer