Health care measures: One up, one down

According to the Oregonian, a measure to expand the state prescription drug discount program to all Oregonians looks headed for the November ballot.

Initiative 122, sponsored by Sen. Bill Morrisette, D-Springfield, would expand Oregon's drug-buying discount program, which offers savings of up to 60 percent on some prescription medicines. The program, launched in 2003 through bulk-purchasing by the state, is now limited to people 55 and older with incomes less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

If the initiative passes, the discount would be available to all Oregonians. The initiative is backed by a coalition of health, labor and consumer groups.

Dig into the details of the measure here.

Meanwhile, the HOPE constitutional amendment to make health care a right is falling short:

Unlikely to make the ballot is a broader health reform initiative, which would amend the state constitution to make affordable health care a right. Because it involves a constitutional change, backers must gather at least 100,840 signatures by July 7; as of Tuesday, they had 85,000.

"We're still really struggling," said Geoff Sugerman, a spokesman for the coalition backing the constitutional amendment. "It's looking pretty rough."

Visit HOPE Oregon to learn more and help gather signatures. Get the measure text and details here.

  • Sponge (unverified)

    As laudable as the desired outcomes of these two measures are, they scare me as much as the flag protection amendment does. I don't mean to trivialize the seriousness of the health issues by comparing them to flag desecration, but I can't ignore the vastly intrusive nature of the state's involvement in not only "protecting" these rights, but providing them as well. We could well argue that virutally any non-luxury commodity is vital to our lives - especially food - and that the government ought to act as a giant co-op to get us all lower grocery bills.

    The state has a compelling interest in a healthy, well-educated citizenry. We shouldn't necessarily make the leap, however, that the state should be the providers of health and education services.

  • Aaron V. (unverified)

    However, when you have education and health care, you get necessities that benefit from economies of scale, and in the case of insurance for health care, a system that has been milked to death by intentionally inefficient corporations.

    What Sponge also doesn't realize is that private health insurance companies and private schools engage in cherry-picking to guarantee their success. The private health insurance can refuse to insure a cancer survivor or heart attack survivor, just as the hoity-toity private school can keep out kids with low test scores. (And charter schools have failed left and right, primarily because of the economies of scale problem.)

  • Gordie (unverified)

    What are the odds of employers dropping their prescription drug coverage if Oregon starts offering it to all? What's the anticipated cost of this change?

  • (Show?)

    We could well argue that virutally any non-luxury commodity is vital to our lives - especially food...

    And then there were Food Stamps...

  • Rafael Baptista (unverified)

    To bad that the HOPE measure is falling short. I have been collecting signutures for it and have gotten almost 50. Even hardcore republicans have been signing it. Its a good proposal that really needs to make the ballot.

  • Voter (unverified)

    Gordie: OK, so here's the deal-on IP 122 there is no additional cost to the state because the state simply acts as the negotiator with the drug companies to actually get the best prices on pharmaceuticals. So the "rebates" that insurance companies or pharmacy benefit managers would normally realize, go to the individual instead. The current program is a very good use of taxpayer dollars. The measure is only open to those Oregonians without RX coverage (close to 1 million already)so the more folks in the pool, the better price can be negotiated. It is not a free drug program, but a discounted program because of the state's negotiating power. Those Oregonians already eligible and using the program are saving up to 60% on their pharmaceuticals. One person saved $400.00 on one prescription. I would doubt that employers would drop RX coverage because most insurers will not carve out the RX coverage so there would be no savings to the employer, besides there is nothing saying they have to cover prescriptions right now. Sign the petitions!

  • Don Smith (unverified)

    I'm glad to see the drug-purchasing initiative make it, but am not shedding any tears for the HOPE initiative. Health care is not a fundamental right. It's just not. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as I recall, are. The government's job is to protect you from others (including government) from infringing on your rights. Government's job is not to provide you with life, liberty or property.

    Why is that so hard to understand? Bastiat said, paraphrasing, that once people figured out they can vote themsleves the government's largesse, the society becomes doomed. Use the power of numbers through government to get a good deal on drugs? Great!

    But if health care is a right, I'll be the first one to drop my coverage (that I pay for) and sue for the state to provide me cadillac health care for free as my right. Even though it's not.

  • Brian (unverified)

    I went out tonight for the first time and collected a dozen signatures from my neighbors. Easist thing I've ever done. It was great to meet many of them for the first time.

    If you believe in this initiative, help make it a reality. You can donate money and a few hours of time. It WILL help. Put up or shut up.

  • Mel Rader (unverified)

    We are estimating that the HOPE Initiative will have around 112,000 signatures by the end of today, and we are continuing to get thousands of signatures each day.

    In spite of the comments above, this initiative would not lead to government-provided healthcare nor would it lead to excessive largesse by the government.

    A number of studies show that any system that ensures everyone has access to primary care would be less expensive after a few years than what we are doing now - because right now we are wasting so much money on emergency and catastrophic care.

    <h2>It is time, we actually started doing something about our healthcare crisis by finding a way to provide healthcare for everyone at a cost-effective price like every other industrialized country in the world does already.</h2>
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