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PORTLAND --- On Thursday, the Oregon House Health Care Committee held a public hearing on HB 2010, a bill that would move Oregon towards creating a public health insurance option in the state. Led by Chair Rachel Prusak, the committee heard testimony from small business owners, consumers, and advocates.
OSPIRG’s Health Care Advocate, Maribeth Guarino, issued the following statement:
“Making a public option available on the individual and small group markets could help address the high cost of health care by lowering costs, reducing overall spending, and improving health outcomes by lowering financial barriers to care. When financial pressure means making health decisions based on the cost rather than the medical need, it is clear that we need another option. The public option can provide a health plan that Oregonians can afford so that they can get the coverage and care they need.
“Other states are considering similar programs. Connecticut and Colorado have public option bills introduced this session, and Wisconsin, Nevada, Minnesota, and New Mexico are making moves in this direction. In addition, Washington enacted their public option and offered it for the first time this year. Oregon’s bill has the opportunity to learn from that program and lay the groundwork for a successful program from the get-go.”
Consumers and small businesses also weighed in during the testimony:
Jim Houser, Hawthorne Auto Clinic (retired) and Co-Chair of Main Street Alliance: “Small businesses pay between 8% and 18% more for healthcare for their employees than do large corporations. So long as employers in this country are expected to provide healthcare coverage for their employees, small businesses are going to have to secure a more level playing field relative to large businesses in order to lower their healthcare premium costs.”
Abby Giedd, Portland: “I support a public option because every year, when the time comes around to choose my coverage, I feel as though I’m rolling the dice - can I make it another year with health insurance more appropriate for a healthy young person, until I reach the safety of Medicare?”
Lindsey Goodwin-Grayzel, ReRack: “We could not, in good conscience, cause any of our employees to lose their health insurance coverage during a pandemic. ReRack continued to pay 50% of health insurance premiums for laid off employees and has since been able to hire back our work force. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate, as many businesses have simply failed. Many people have lost their employment and their health insurance during a pandemic.”
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