In a 6 to 3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Obama Care, saving health care for over six million Americans (and growing).
The interaction between the justices after the ruling was read was a defining moment for those who are weary of a horribly divided Court, one that has produced more head-scratching than understandable reasoning. At least to common folks.
Here’s the story from CNN: Click here
Meanwhile, an Oregon group that demands what they call an even better health care program than Obama Care issues this statement to the public today:
Statement of Health Care for All-Oregon
The Supreme Court has upheld the premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a relief to the more than 6.5 million U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Oregonians who benefit from this aspect of the ACA. But major problems still remain within our health care system, according to Oregon’s leading health care reform organization, Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO). Health Care for All Oregon is a coalition of over 100 organizations working towards a single-payer health care system in Oregon (www.hcao.org).
The decision is welcome because it helps millions maintain health coverage. But many more in the U.S. will continue suffering, with approximately 35 million people remaining uninsured, a comparable number underinsured, and rapidly growing barriers to medical care in the form of rising premiums, copayments, coinsurance and deductibles, and narrowing networks.
As Lee Mercer, President, Health Care for All Oregon stated “This is great news for the 6.5 million plus Americans who won’t lose their subsidy and will retain more affordable health care. Now we have to build on the foundation of the Affordable Care Act, eliminate the need to subsidize the health insurance industry, and create truly universal, publicly funded health care in America.”
HCAO remains concerned that our system of health care continues to place a high financial burden on millions of people throughout the country and over a hundred thousand people in Oregon.
As long as health care is administered as primarily a for profit insurance run industry, quality accessible health care will remain out of reach for many people. The ACA continues a dominant role for the private insurance industry. Every year, that industry drains hundreds of billions of health care dollars for overhead, profit, and the paperwork it demands from doctors and hospitals. It denies necessary care to increase profit. It obstructs any serious effort to control costs. The ACA also does not allow the biggest drug purchaser of pharmaceuticals in the U.S., Medicare, to appropriately bargain with drug companies for reasonable prices. This allows these companies to waste roughly $100 billion on marketing, substantially more than they spend on research.
According to an article published in the “Columbian” on March 24, 2014, and based on a report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy, approximately 120,000 Oregonians will remain without insurance by 2019, because they cannot afford to buy policies on the exchange. With earnings above the 138% of poverty level needed to qualify for Medicaid Expansion, and up to 200% of poverty, these Oregonians cannot pay the premiums, deductibles, and copays required for a Bronze or Silver plan (with deductibles as high as over $6,000, copays 30-40%, and premiums up to almost $300).
Furthermore, tens of thousands of other Oregonians who do have these plans are struggling to afford them, and are still forced to choose between paying for health care, food, or housing…something which the Affordable Care Act was intended to eliminate.
380,000 Oregonians gained Medicaid coverage in 2014 (2014 report from the Oregon Health Authority). The same report found that new enrollees used the ER about one third less frequently than others on the Oregon Health Plan, and that the Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) had reduced ER use by 21% since 2011. These numbers point to the improvements that can be made in health care with a system that expands coverage using a public funding mechanism, rather than for profit health insurance companies.
A study released in April, 2015 by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation found that 8 states had saved $1.8 billion with Medicaid Expansion, accompanied by expectations of huge revenue savings. Oregon was one of these states. Reasons cited included state savings on Medicaid expenditures due to generous Federal matching funds, and a reduced need for state programs serving this population. Other sources cite the preventative care allowed by the expanded Medicaid program as another source of savings.
Health Care for All Oregonians is working towards a single-payer system in Oregon – essentially an improved Medicare for All, which could achieve universal care, affordability, and effective cost control. More health care dollars would be spent on actual health care, with less on administration and drug company profit, giving more control to patients and providers and less to corporate bureaucrats. Such a system will result in more care, for more people, at a lower cost for all. And we all know a healthier population is a more productive one…..bringing economic, social, and educational benefits to Oregon.
Single payer is simple: everyone would be covered for all medically necessary care in a single program financed by equitable taxes. Some health care payments would shift from those who are sick and injured to those with sufficient income. Enough savings would be realized from simplified administration to more than cover health care for all.
HCAO applauds the Supreme Court decision, which helps some but not enough vulnerable people in this country. We further urge everyone to work towards a universal system in Oregon and our nation that can realistically deal with the continuing barriers to appropriate, affordable health care.