Will ‘ObamaCare’ save Oregon?

By Observer Upload April 09, 2013 07:56 am
Oregon has the chance to provide cost-effective health care for everyone in the state, but it is not the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”). House Bill 2922 would create a publicly funded, single-payer health care program to provide care to everyone in Oregon for less money than Oregonians pay now. 

The hearing in the Oregon House Health Care Committee is scheduled for May 13. Many opponents dismiss further reform as unnecessary, believing ObamaCare will solve our problems. But will it?

Oregon’s biggest health care problem is that too many of our families cannot afford the health care we need. This is a uniquely American problem. International studies demonstrate America’s greatest health care challenge is not the quality of our hospitals, doctors and nurses, which are among the best in world. Our greatest health care challenge is having sufficient  money or expensive insurance to enter the doors of our hospitals and clinics in order to see these great providers.

It does not matter how good our health care is for a family who cannot afford it.

Americans spend twice the amount that citizens of other industrialized countries spend — we have the world’s most expensive health care. Adding insult to injury, our health care costs are rising faster than anywhere else. If health care costs continue to rise at the current rate, within 15 years the average American family will spend its entire monthly income on private health insurance premiums. 

A sobering reality is that on almost every measure of public health, the U.S. ranks at or near the bottom of industrialized countries. There are more than 30 other countries in which a pregnant woman and her baby are more likely to survive the pregnancy. American diabetics are more than twice as likely to lose a foot to an infected ulcer than are diabetics in other industrialized countries. Among citizens of industrialized countries, Americans are the most likely to die of a treatable disease simply because they lack money for treatment.

Does ObamaCare solve these problems? It does not.

Even if it works perfectly, ObamaCare will leave 40 million Americans (500,000 Oregonians) underinsured, leaving them at risk for bankruptcy if they get the wrong disease at the wrong time. And it will leave 20 million more Americans (250,000 Oregonians) without any access to health care at all.

ObamaCare will compel millions more Americans to buy insurance policies, at prices the insurance industry sets. This new expense will add more than $100 billion to health care spending every year.  This $100 billion is in addition to the rising insurance costs for people who already have policies. The money for these additional costs will come from us.

We already have a prototype of ObamaCare in place. We should study it carefully.  In 2006, Massachusetts enacted its own version of ObamaCare, sometimes called “RomneyCare.” Since then, Massachusetts’ medical bankruptcies have risen 30 percent, health care costs have risen faster than anywhere else in the country and public health statistics remain dismal. There is little hope that applying “RomneyCare” on a nationwide basis will produce different results.  

The sobering conclusion is ObamaCare will not solve our major health care problem.  

What does this mean
for Oregonians?

We need significant reform — we need lower costs so our families have access to health care when they need it. How do we achieve this goal? Every single-payer plan in our country provides better care to more people for less money than our private insurance industry provides. Just imagine what a single-payer plan could do, if it were properly funded with only a portion of what we currently pay today.  Medicare, Medicaid or the Veterans
Administration could be a model for Oregon. 

ObamaCare is a distraction. Oregon needs real reform. Oregon needs single-payer health care for every person in the state. Please tell our state Sen. Bill Hansell ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and Rep. Bob Jenson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) to support publicly funded universal health care in Oregon, to support single-payer health care and to support HB 2922.

About the authors

Susan Boyd, of Union, is a farmer and small employer. She is the manager at Dora’s Garden,  which specializes in local organic produce in Union.

    Samuel Metz, M.D., of Portland is an anesthesiologist. He works at various ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals in the Willamette Valley. He is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program and Mad As Hell Doctors, both of which advocate for single payer health care. My Voice columns should be 500 to 700 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. 

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