An Oregon Perspective: Bringing Down the Cost of Health Care

I held a number of town hall meetings in Eastern and Central Oregon. Whether I
was in Crook County, Wallowa or Harney, the number one issue on people’s minds
was health care reform. Oregonians want to know what will change, what will
remain, and how much this will cost individuals, businesses, and the country.

In the reform plans currently in front of Congress, there are several
strategies that will lower health care costs while encouraging market-based
competition and choice:
First, we need to make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate based
on pre-existing conditions.  And for Americans who have insurance, we need
to stop providers from delaying, capping or eliminating coverage just when
people need care the most.  It is unacceptable that insurance companies
can drop someone from coverage when they get sick or injured even if they’ve
been reliably paying premiums for years.  

also make insurance more portable so that you can keep your plan if you lose
your job or want to switch to a different job.  And we’ll end the low
lifetime limits that throw even insured families into bankruptcy because
they’ve exhausted their available benefits.
A crucial component for lowering costs is increased competition.  We will
give individuals and small businesses more choices by creating an insurance
marketplace.  This marketplace will enable them to band together in one
large group to get a better deal from insurance companies instead of having to
try to buy a policy on their own in a confusing and fragmented insurance
market.  Each person in the pool will then be able to choose whichever
plan they prefer.  This is how the health plan for federal employees and
Members of Congress works.  
The other major mechanism for increasing competition is the creation of a strong
community health plan – or public option.  Consumers would still be able
to pick from among private insurers if they want, but the community plan would
give them another choice to improve service and drive down costs. 

health care plans being developed in Washington will lower costs while
strengthening our health care system for those who have insurance and extending
care to those who don’t.  Now is the time to move forward and improve our
health care system for all Americans.