Another voice: Support new health care legislation

March 16, 2011

By IAN STROMQUIST

Rep. Mark Johnson and Sen. Charles William Thomsen: Please support HB 3510 and SB 888; Oregon's Single Payer Health Care Bills. This new law will lead to cost reductions across the health care industry as well as dramatically reduce employee and employer medical premiums.

It will also improve the economy and create jobs because low-income employees will have more take-home pay, thus spending more money in the local economies.

Finally, it will consolidate risk into one pool leading to progressively lower premiums (and taxes) over time.

Yes, this bill will likely introduce new taxes to Oregonians. However, it will eliminate incredibly expensive medical premiums which a majority of skilled employees and their employers pay monthly. Low-income (and low-skilled) Oregonians who don't currently have employer-provided health benefits will neither see an increase in cost nor a loss of health benefit because the new system will be funded by progressive taxes and fees (based on income and ability to pay).

Currently, to insure my family (two adults, two children) with my employer-provided health program, our health premiums total $1,561.81 monthly of which I am scheduled to pay 20 percent (once the new contract is adopted). That totals $18,741.72 annually.

Even after that, my out-of-pocket medical bills, after the birth of my daughter in October, totaled more than $3,000 in 2010. I would much rather have that income directly, both bumping me into a higher tax bracket and then raise my taxes, to fund a single-payer system.

Wouldn't it be prudent for all citizens to pool their resources into one health pool? Through an economy of scale, costs would be reduced (I'm not even including the elimination of the profit skimming by for-profit insurance companies).

We don't build roads with individual transportation contractors who are contracted by individual families and employers. Nor do we collect garbage using individual garbage removal plans. It is prudent for the public to pool their resources and strive for equitable and affective services.

In general, whenever a service (like garbage collection) is utilized by all citizens in a community, the service is adopted by society and provided at an equitable cost to all (without discrimination based on location or circumstance).

Stamps don't cost more if you live far from a post office. Electricity costs the same whether you live next to Bonneville Dam or in Salem. Health care is something we all access eventually. All I'm asking for is a little efficiency and equitable access.

I believe that I have already made a strong argument. I need not pull at your heart-strings and tell you about the families that have lost their homes and livelihoods due to medical-bill-bankruptcies. Nor, do I need to remind you of the poor service the under- and uninsured receive when they attempt to access medical care.

Nor do I need to remind you that doctors set up monthly quotas for Medicaid patients they see (then telling them to go to the ER once they have met their quotas). Nor do I have to tell you that my health premiums (and yours) are filled with the hidden costs of the under- and uninsured.

If you are worried about a "Big-Brother" Oregon Health Authority setting up "death panels," turn your brain back on and lay off the Kool-Aid. The system would be under the control of the public it serves. We would receive the system that we want (or at least deserve - based on the elected representatives we send to Salem).

Similar systems work very effectively in Canada (where I am from) and many other countries around the world. Are we not entitled to the best system our shared resources can afford?

Please support HB 3510 and SB 888. It will be good for Oregonians - who will become a "beacon of light" for the rest of the country.

Ian Stromquist lives in Hood River.

Log in to comment