State Prepares Study of Health Care Payment Models

By Peter Wong of the Oregon Capitol Insider:

Different groups have differing expectations for a study of how Oregon should pay for health care — a study that lawmakers authorized two years ago but did not fund until now.

The Legislature set aside $300,000 in the new two-year budget to fund the study, which will be carried out through the Oregon Health Authority. House Bill 2828, which extends the study authorization for two years, also allows for donations.

Courtni Dresser of the Oregon Medical Association, which contributed, said: “The results of this study could serve to strengthen the existing coordinated-care organization (CCO) system, as well as identify other innovative strategies to provide cost-effective care to all Oregonians.

But Jenn Baker, speaking for the Oregon Nurses Association, envisions the study as a step toward a system under which the government pays all health care bills.

“They (nurses) also understand that the state must have an adequate and stable financing plan to move towards a statewide single-payer system,” Baker said.

The study will compare the status quo with a single-payer system, and also a public insurance option to the private insurance plans under the national health-care overhaul (Affordable Care Act), and a high-deductible insurance plan funded by a sales tax.

Oregon has an estimated 95 percent coverage.

But in a series of recent Oregon appearances, T.R. Reid — journalist turned activist — said Colorado aims to be the first state to provide 100 percent coverage.

“We beat you to marijuana and we will beat you to universal health care,” said Reid, the one-time Washington Post reporter who is now leading a campaign to qualify a payroll-tax measure for the 2016 ballot in Colorado.

Oregon voters, by more than 3-to-1 in 2002, rejected a ballot measure for increased income and payroll taxes to pay for expanded coverage. Similar bills have not advanced beyond legislative committee hearings.