Facing more than a 4 BILLION dollar deficit and a growing moral and economic health care crisis the Oregon legislature ignores the first rule of holes: when you find yourself in one STOP DIGGING.

The leader of the digging crew, representative Mitch Greenlick, by his own admission at an Oregon Health Forum breakfast, announced that he had health insurance coverage from three current and previous employers. At the same meeting Greenlick projected the cost of SB329 at a Billion dollars in new taxes with a shrug of the shoulders. Following Mitch's nonchalant advocacy for raising taxes on those without the benefit of three health insurance plans senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson said that despite her vote in favor of SB329 there was no way she was going to vote for a BILLION dollars in new taxes if she expected to keep her job. There are certainly other Democrats who share senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson's election based dilemma. And as for Republicans, it's hard to imagine in this economy a single Republican vote in favor of raising taxes or so-called fees on citizens or health care providers.

The first of what surely will be a long line of funding sequels to the 2007 legislature's SB329 is the 2009 legislature's SB2009. It is now 260 pages long and growing, requiring an accountant, an attorney and a seer to interpret. Those of you who are already distraught by the complexity of health insurance plans, rules and arbitrary decisions today will be driven close to madness when the costly creature created as the offspring of SB329 finally emerges from the legislative laboratory.

The solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis should be based on a model in which Oregon elected officials - public employees - voters and taxpayers have EQUAL ACCESS to the SAME LEVEL of health care NOT a perpetuation of our current multitiered health insurance CLASS system.

The Oregon legislature, which is controlled by Democrats who are in turn controlled by Oregon Public Employee Bargaining Units, are perfectly happy to have the taxpayers pay upwards of $1,000/month for maximum health insurance benefits for their members but not the folks that pay for those public employee health insurance premiums. In essence, Oregon taxpayers are subsidizing the continuation of a class of elite workers, public employees, with health care benefits far beyond the benefits of those in the lower class of citizens that pay the taxes, to their own detriment.

Oh, and did I mention that because they are afraid of losing their high class elite health care coverage not a single legislator nor a single leader of any public employee bargaining unit has been willing to even publicly discuss much less support the Oregon Community Health Care Bill and any other single payer type solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis.

Is this health care class "warfare"? You bet it is. Which side are you on?

Richard Ellmyer


February 8, 2009

Dear House Speaker Hunt and Senate President Courtney Et. Al.:

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 2007

Sam Adams - Portland City Council 2007

Jeff Cogen - Multnomah County Commissioner 2007

Edwars "Chip" Enbody - Hubbard City Council 2007

Darrell Flood - Mayor of Lafayette 2007

Bill Hall - Lincoln County Commissioner 2007

Jim Needham - Mollala City Council 2007

Michelle Ripple - Wilsonville City Council 2007

Mary Schamehorn - Mayor of Bandon 2007

Pete Sorenson - Lane County Commissioner 2007

John Frohnmayer - Former candidate for US Senate 2008

Tim Grimes - Staton City Council 2008

David P. Trott - Mayor City of Umatilla 2008

Bill Dwyer - Lane County Commissioner 2008

Dan K. Cummings - Ontario City Council President 2008

Mark Camra - Toledo City Councilor 2009

Don Porter - Mayor of Long Creek 2009

Thomas Bradley - Long Creek City Council 2009

Fred Drake - Long Creek City Council 2009

Alvin Hunt - Long Creek City Council 2009

[Copies of this letter were sent to all members of the 2009 Oregon Legislature]

Whereas every Oregonian should have the right to affordable health care,

Therefore be it resolved that the following revisions are made to the Oregon Health Plan:

1. The Oregon Health Plan shall allow state, county, regional and municipal governments as well as all public educational institutions in the state of Oregon to pay to enroll their employees.

2. Governments and Public Educational Institutions shall pay 80% of the premium paid in 2004 for an individual covered by their previous health insurance providers times the number of individuals covered for the first year of membership. The individual rate shall be determined by dividing the total amount paid for health insurance in 2004 divided by the number of individuals covered in each public entity in 2004. [Total number of employees times 2.5 shall be an acceptable default if precise numbers are unavailable.] The 80% rate shall continue until such time as a government or public educational institution formally requests an increase or decrease in the rate for that entity. A majority of paying member organizations of the Oregon Health Plan shall agree to the proposed increase or decrease before it can become the effective new rate for the requesting jurisdiction. It shall be the goal, over a period of time, to achieve equity of individual payments among all participating organizations.

3. The Oregon Health Plan shall allow any person who has been a registered voter in Oregon for at least one year to pay to become a member. 18 year olds registering for the first time are automatically accepted. All children 17 and under are automatically qualified provided they are the dependents of at least one adult in the household who is a registered member of the Oregon Health Plan. The cost to join will be determined by a sliding scale based on taxable income and number of dependent children 17 and under. 

4. The Oregon Health Plan shall allow Oregon businesses to enroll their employees provided that each employee submitted for enrollment meets the standards for individual enrollment mentioned in section 3 above.

5. The Oregon Health Plan shall not allow smokers to join. This includes government sponsored as well as individual applicants. However, the Oregon Health Plan shall respond to every Oregonian that asks for help to quit smoking. A special non-member category shall be established to support smokers who want to quit. The cost to participate in this program will be determined by a sliding scale based on taxable income. A limited list of medical procedures intended specifically to enable a patient to stop smoking shall be the only medical procedures available to Oregonians who are smokers, that is those who smoke an average of five or more cigarettes per day. Upon certification by a physician that an individual has successfully quit smoking for one year that person may apply for membership in the Oregon Health Plan. Serious penalties shall be imposed upon those who are untruthful about their smoking habits when making application to the Oregon Health Plan or at any time they are a member.

6. The legislature shall budget for 2006 a payment into the Oregon Health Plan fund of $75,000,000 plus the amount contributed in 2004. An additional $5,000,000 shall be added to this budget item each year until the amount equals the total of all payments made by participating members.

7. The legislature shall transfer into the Oregon Health Plan fund all revenues in excess of the 2% state revenue forecast thereby eliminating the so called Oregon kicker.

8. The Oregon Health Plan shall be the exclusive health plan for a) The governor and every employee in the executive branch of state government under his authority, b) Every employee of the judicial branch of state government c) Every member of the state legislature and all of their staffs.

9. Allowing for procedures specific to male and female anatomies, everyone enrolled shall have exactly the same benefits. No exceptions.

10. Payments by governments and individuals into the Oregon Health Plan shall remain in an Oregon Health Plan account which shall be the source of payments to physicians, hospitals etc. for allowable procedures.

11. Oregon Health Plan financial managers may only invest in low risk financial instruments with a prudent amount of available capital. All investments shall be made only in Oregon.

12. The Oregon Health Plan may be administered by contract with a private business or by a state government agency depending on which is deemed more likely to deliver the most cost effective high quality service to Oregonians.

13. Every two years the number of procedures covered by the Oregon Health Plan shall be reevaluated and shall include more or fewer procedures from the existing list as determined by the amount of money available in the Oregon Health Plan fund to pay for them. It is the goal of the Oregon Health Plan to annually spend on benefits what it annually receives in revenues.

14. Mental health, dental, optometrical, chiropractic and acupuncture shall be included in potential procedures of the Oregon Health Plan especially those of a preventative nature.

15. Every five years the list and rankings of procedures shall be reevaluated.

16. Every listed procedure shall have a capped price. Members may seek medical care from any licensed health care provider in the United States of America. Members who choose health care providers that charge less than the capped price for any procedure shall receive a credit toward their health plan premium valued at the difference. Members choosing health care providers charging more than the capped price must make up the difference themselves. Every bill sent to the Oregon Health Plan for payment must be signed by the member involved in the medical procedure appearing on the invoice before payment can be made.

17. Health care providers licensed by the state of Oregon shall accept Oregon Health Plan patients for approved procedures.

18. Patients that choose to participate shall have the opportunity to critique the care given by their health care providers directly into an online database. 10% of the health care providers with the highest patient satisfaction ratings per year will receive a $10,000 cash incentive bonus. A minimum number of 300 votes or 60% of a health care provider's patients will be required to qualify. 

19. No member of the Oregon Health Plan may sue a health care provider for malpractice of a procedure allowed under the Oregon Health Plan without the express approval of five members of a nine member committee established for the specific purpose of determining the legitimacy or frivolousness of the proposed legal action. That committee shall be comprised of five permanent members serving four year terms namely, two retired judges, two retired physicians and the governor. The remaining four shall be chosen at random from the Oregon legislature each quarter prior to that quarter's meeting.


FYI - A Sampling Of Maximum Current Public Employer Contributions To Public Employee Health Insurance Benefits

Dollar figures are for individual paychecks per month.

Metro Regional Government - $ 1321

Multnomah County - $ 1,282

City of Eugene - $ 1,256

City of Portland - $ 1,246

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

State of Oregon - $ 1,006

Beaverton School District - $ 921

Multnomah County ESD - $ 768

Lane ESD - $ 750