John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who recently was elected Oregon's governor, is a physician. He's already helped to heal my progressive depression over the national midterm election results.
But I can tell that Republican craziness in Congress, now that they control the House, is going to upset my psyche almost as much as Kitzhaber's win (and Jon Stewart's rally) restored sanity to my political soul.
Today I read that the GOP plans to try to starve health care reform enactment by cutting off funding. This is chicken-shit and stupid, as almost everything Congressional Republicans do these days is.
For example, they want to prevent the IRS from hiring agents to enforce the requirement that every American have health insurance by a certain date. Yet they also claim to support the notion that insurance companies can't deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
The plain fact is that you can't have one without the other. That's where stupid comes in.
Anyone with half a brain can see that if people could wait and only buy a health insurance policy after they get seriously sick, that's what many, if not most, would do -- just as I'd prefer to pay a premium for auto insurance only after I had an accident and needed repairs.
If Republicans had an open discussion with citizens about what they wanted to change in the health care reform bill, the need to require insurance coverage would be seen to go hand in hand with eliminating pre-existing condition limitations.
Since the "R's" don't have the guts to be open about this, that's where chicken-shit comes in. They don't want voters to know that they're against popular provisions in the health care reform bill, so are trying to undo the bill in a sneaky manner.
We can do better here in Oregon.
I'm confident that our state politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are smarter and gutsier than those in Congress. And John Kitzhaber is a creative health policy expert who can lead our state to becoming a model for the nation.
He's spoken about this in his campaign speeches. He's planned for this through his Archimedes Movement. He's written about this on his John Kitzhaber for Governor web site.
Oregon has always been a national leader in health care innovation and I know that Oregon can and will face up to the challenge of fundamentally reforming the health care delivery system which is crucial if we hope to reduce cost and improve the health of Americans. Our federalist system encourages states to be the “laboratories of democracy,” trying and testing innovative solutions. Whatever the results of the current health care debate in Congress, America is going to need innovation and new thinking from the states to solve this most critical challenge.
One idea posted from a citizen, Bruce Mulligan of Eugene, is to create a public insurance option for Oregonians. Excellent notion.
This should have been included in the national bill, but hopefully Kitzhaber and our congressional delegation can find a way to make it happen here in Oregon, showing the rest of the country how it can be done and why it is such a good idea.
My wife and I are in our early 60's. Currently we send $1,024 a month off to Regence Blue Cross of Oregon for increasingly crappy individual coverage.
Regence is a hugely irritating bureaucracy, dedicated to providing as little health care as possible to its customers while maintaining a vast expensive staff whose sole job is to say "no, you can't have this drug, procedure, or test that your doctor says you need."
We'd love to be able to sign up with a state-run health insurance plan along the lines of the "Medicare For All" public option that was proposed for the national health care reform bill. There's little doubt that such a plan could provide better care at less cost, given the waste, inefficiencies, and high-paid executives in private plans such as Regence.
This country spends about twice as much on health care as other advanced industrial democracies -- a gigantic drain on our economic competitiveness, given how much businesses have to pay for employee benefits.
Soon-to-be Governor Kitzhaber should link genuine health care reform in Oregon with job-creation. If we can reduce health insurance costs to companies here, while making the Oregon work force (along with everybody else) healthier, that's a clear win-win for both businesses and individuals -- something Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on.
In Washington, DC, it looks like gridlock is going to prevail for the next few years. Here in Oregon, we can keep moving forward. This state already is a leader in sustainable land use policies, renewable energy, and #1 football teams.
Let's add "health care" to the list of Oregon accomplishments.