The 2011 Oregon Legislative Assembly Will FAIL, Again, To Produce Comprehensive Health Care Reform To Address Oregon's Moral And Economic Health Care Crisis

There are three choices related to comprehensive health care legislation this session.

1. Support $700,000,000 in new taxes to pay for the IOU left on the table from the previous sessions' Billion dollar health care bill.

[The effect of spending the first $300,000,000 was to actually raise not lower my health insurance premiums.]

2. Support Single-Payer legislation recently sent to committees in the House and Senate. 

[Of course, choices 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive, contradictory and antithetical to one another. Democrats who voted for the Billion dollar health care tax bill in the last few sessions when they had a supermajority and who cosigned the Single-Payer bills this session, when the Republicans have parity in the house and almost the same in the senate, take note. We will.]

[Without surprise, not a single Republican cosponsored either of these bills. Remember, the Democrats have a history of rejecting government run Single-Payer - like Medicare For All - and promoting the most complex, expensive and for-profit health insurance industry health care solution - see #1 above. On the other hand, the Republicans believe that if you are not rich enough to pay for quality health care you can, "live on the street and die in the gutter." Really. That's what they believe. It's how they vote. Ask them. They're not ashamed but proud of that position. The moral and economic value of a healthy population is completely lost on them.]

3. Other? Includes the status quo. Asking public employees to contribute more to their health insurance benefits is NOT a comprehensive solution. Diddling with the size of the Oregon Health Plan is NOT a comprehensive solution. Piling more money on health care for children is NOT a comprehensive solution. Asking for any help or favors from the federal government is NOT a comprehensive solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis.

All available evidence persuades me to write with confidence that there is no possibility that new taxes will be enacted to pay for the 700 million IOU nor is there a snowball's chance in hell that Single-Payer will ever come up for a vote on the House floor. Chances that either $700,000,000 in new taxes to pay for the languishing health care bill from previous sessions or a Single-Payer health care plan would be passed by either chamber much less both are zero to none.

In his most recent newsletter representative Richardson asks his colleagues to support SB 702 which would require state employees to contribute 15% instead of 0% to their health insurance benefit package. I will see Richardson's 15% and raise him to 100%.

Richardson says a 15% increase would yield $250,000,000 in additional state revenue. So a 100% increase would yield $1,675,000,000 in additional state revenue. That's almost half our budget shortfall in one fell swoop.

Senate Republicans should offer amendments to the bill that start the bidding at 100% and work their way down until enough Democrats join in. There will never be a better time for Republicans to make this kind of move.

Senate Democrats who claim to support Single-Payer must support a 100% employee contribution if they expect to be taken seriously. At a 100% employee health benefits contribution rate public employees will be highly motivated to do everything they can to support a Single-Payer plan. Without 100% effort from ALL public employees supporting Single-Payer there is NO chance of success. "I've Got Mine Good Luck Getting Yours" is a self-righteous, arrogant song Oregon taxpayers no longer want to hear from the public employees' chorus.

Please keep in mind that my wife and I and all self-employed Oregonians pay 100% of our health care benefits - when we can afford to pay anything at all. We derive no benefit from a mere 15% increase in contribution by public employees. There is no trickle down improvement to us unless all public employees pay 100% health care contributions and start fighting with NOT AGAINST the majority of Oregonians who support Single-Payer. 

So the questions arise:


Are there any Republican legislators that do NOT support legislation that would require state employees to contribute 100% to their own health insurance benefits? Every Republican legislator indicated that they support this level of employee contribution.


Are there any legislators who are registered Democrats who would be willing to defy their public and private union leadership masters by supporting legislation that would require state employees to contribute 100% to their own health insurance benefits in order to advance the prospects of a Single-Payer health care plan? Not a single Democrat indicated that they would support this necessary path to move Single-Payer forward.

In August 2007 representative Mitch Greenlick told a public gathering that, "the Democrats' comprehensive health care reform bill would cost a Billion dollars in new taxes" to which he added matter-of-factly, will "just have to be paid." Mitch Greenlick, leader of the pack that prevented Oregonians who supported Single-Payer from participating in the creation of his Billion dollar health care bill, is now, unbelievably, a cosigner on Single-Payer HB 3510, the very antithesis of his Billion dollar fiasco, that relies on the failed private health insurance industry model assuring continued unsustainable escalation of public institutional health insurance contributions, that Greenlick shepherded through the legislature in the previous three sessions.

The words, "hypocrite, political opportunist and public policy contortionist" are barely adequate to describe representative Mitch Greenlick who not only rejects his own, "it must be paid" directive but abandons and rejects years of work to support a public policy he denied other Oregonians from even discussing when he had the power and another point of view. Quite astonishing and very Mitt Romney.

There is no larger nor more important social and economic issue before the Oregon legislature than the health care of Oregonians which affects every individual and every public institution and every business in our state.

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. 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.

Sadly, the 2011 Oregon legislature has already failed on this vital public policy issue. The rest is just a charade.

Richard Ellmyer

Former progressive candidate for the North Portland House seat in the May 2010 primary, who authored the no tax increase, Single-Payer type plan, the Oregon Community Health Care Bill, in 2004 and who has supported Single-Payer as the ONLY health care solution to Oregon's and America's moral and economic health care crisis. Defeated by establishment Democrat, Tina Kotek, who would not extend the constituent courtesy of submitting my Oregon Community Health Care Bill, does not support Single-Payer and voted for the Billion dollar health care tax increase legislation of previous sessions.


I have decided not to ask any member of the Oregon legislature to submit my no tax increase, comprehensive Oregon Community Health Care Bill this session. The prospects for movement on comprehensive health care reform are so bleak that it would be pointless. However, I do want to remind all of you about the history of my efforts.

The Oregon legislative leadership and every member of the 2007 and 2009 Oregon legislatures summarily and discourteously rejected this letter signed by elected officials representing more than a million Oregonians.

Dear House Speaker Hunt (Merkley) 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 2004

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