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HOPEing for Healthcare

QuickPoint!

The high cost of healthcare these days is astounding, and so is the rate of uninsured Oregonians. There are some good ideas out there but a proposal that invents a “right” to healthcare by amending the Oregon Constitution should make everyone wary.

Backers of the so-called HOPE initiative stress that the amendment will assure an efficient health care system that encourages personal responsibility while providing for the needs of all Oregonians. What they don’t explain is how. Instead, advocates suggest that the legislators will come up with a perfect plan once they are required to do so.

In fact, the only real promise is that the state will provide some sort of coverage to those who need it. The arrangement does not have to be efficient, fair, or feasible. Meanwhile, the Constitution will be changed to say that we are obligated to pay for the healthcare of our neighbors.

A better solution to the healthcare crisis might reduce costs and expand access through tools like high-deductible Health Savings Accounts. Advocates for public health should also consider deregulating medicine and removing health insurance mandates, both of which help account for the unreasonably high prices in the marketplace. This strategy really would bring about a more efficient and affordable system.

The HOPE initiative imposes a clear cost by making you pay for the healthcare of others, while the benefits to uninsured Oregonians are yet to be determined. Is this really the hope of Oregon’s families?

Daniil Davydoff is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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