Doctors support Oregon Health Authority’s recommendations for public option implementation plan
Physicians say public option is key to realizing more accessible, affordable, equitable health care for patients & families
SALEM, Ore. — Today doctors testified in support of a state public option in a Marketplace Community Conversation hosted by the Health Insurance Marketplace Advisory Committee. Physicians expressed their support for the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) recommendations to create a public option health insurance plan. The recommendations resulted from House Bill 2010, passed in 2021, which directed the OHA to determine how best to implement a public option program. Lawmakers will need to take action in 2022 and 2023 to move forward the committee’s recommendations, which would create a public option plan available for Oregonians starting in 2025.
“As a physician, I see every day how the high cost of health care is the single most common barrier to medical care and health, and that’s why doctors support these first steps toward a successful public option program in Oregon,” said Dr. Richard Bruno, a family and preventive medicine physician in Portland. “Oregon families shouldn’t have to choose between making the rent or paying for health insurance premiums that are increasingly unaffordable. High health care costs force people to delay care and put their wellbeing and their lives at risk. Laying the groundwork for a public health insurance plan available statewide will help ensure that all Oregonians can access the affordable care they need to become healthier and live full, rewarding lives.”
Individual marketplace premiums have risen more than 77 percent, on average, since 2014 in Oregon, with rates higher outside the Portland metro area. Oregon has the third-highest average deductible nationally, according to Oregon Health Authority.
“Few things are more heartbreaking to a physician than seeing a patient delay care for an injury or an illness because they couldn’t afford to see a doctor in a timely manner,” said Dr. Christine Bugas, a family medicine specialist in Portland. “By making health care more affordable, Oregon’s public option can change lives for countless families. Every Oregonian deserves to get medical care and treatment when they need it, not just when they can afford it. Oregon’s public option can provide peace of mind for families across our state and we urge policymakers to follow the Oregon Health Authority’s recommendations to implement an effective, affordable, and equitable program.”
The Oregon Health Authority recommends a public option that follows a coordinated care model. The OHA further recommends public option plans be offered on the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace, offer comprehensive benefits and minimize cost-sharing so a plan covers 94 percent to 98 percent of costs.
When implementing the public option, the physicians encouraged policymakers to set provider reimbursement rates so they reach targeted cost-savings while maximizing reimbursement rates for safety net providers and primary care services. The physicians also called for the public option to:
Prioritize integrated primary care and other essential services.
Reduce premiums and cost-sharing without reducing individual market subsidies.
Ensure health care plans are widely available and accepted throughout the state.
Reduce health disparities among Oregonians.
“Physicians and health professionals see firsthand how a person who has health care is more likely to live life on their own terms, to work and to better care for their families – and Oregon’s public option can provide the path to success for residents across the state,” said Dr. James Kulik, a double boarded physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation and interventional chronic pain in Portland. “The reality for too many Oregonians is that health care and achieving independence through good health are simply too expensive. Oregon’s public option is an important step toward fixing our lacking health care system that leaves too many people behind.”
“I applaud the efforts that are underway and I strongly encourage everybody to pitch in and pass the public option,” said Dr. Robert Florek, a cardiologist in Portland. “We have a very wasteful system in place now for the uninsured and we need to make improvements. Almost every other developed country in the world has figured this out, providing at least basic medical care to all the citizens is not only the right thing to do but it also makes economic sense as well.”
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org