The wrong approach to health care reform

by Dan Harmon, guest opinion Friday May 01, 2009, 8:30 AM

"Oregonians should let their lawmakers know they oppose a tax on health insurance premiums.

Legislators are considering a new tax of up to 4 percent on Oregon hospitals. This approach represents a sixfold increase from the current level -- well beyond what the state can offset with increased payments. As with the premium tax, this proposal uses "cost-shifting" (taxing those who have health coverage to pay for those who don't) as a way to fund these new program costs. This additional cost will inevitably lead to reduction in private health insurance programs and a corresponding increase in uninsured Oregonians.

Taxing health care to pay for health care will simply raise the cost of health care."

Association of Oregon Industries Chairman and Hoffman Construction Executive VP Dan Harmon is on target when he says, "Taxing health care to pay for health care will simply raise the cost of health care." Read his valid, reasoned and persuasive arguments in the Oregonian (see above). 

The problem with Harmon's position is that it is incomplete. It is the typical Republican approach to health care reform at both the federal and state level. Throw stones but don't offer an alternative solution. You do not become Executive VP of Hoffman Construction without the extraordinary ability to solve problems. And yet, this is Harmon's approach to solving Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis. It is not credible.

Dan Harmon, like those he criticizes in the legislature, refuses to consider any single payer type solution, including the Oregon Community Health Care Bill, which would remove the burden of providing health insurance from business.

Unless and until the business community in Oregon recognizes that Dan Harmon and the Oregon legislature are not leading them in the right direction by their continued reliance on the despised, failed, for-profit, private health insurance industry model the business community will remain unnecessarily under the heavy yoke of pressure to provide health insurance.

The business of business is to provide products and services NOT health insurance. 

Richard Ellmyer