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The New Oregon Health Plan

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

An Oregon Senate commission decided last week to introduce legislation that would centralize most public and private health care dollars in a new state fund managed by a board similar to the Public Utility Commission. The goal would be universal health care for all Oregonians.

At the same meeting, the commissioners heard two alternative proposals that would leave funding and health care decisions primarily in the private sector.

The first alternative by Stephen Gregg calls for a three-prong system of care and insurance that lets individuals choose between a single-payer-like option, a managed care option and a self-directed option.

The second alternative by Randall Pozdena calls for an individual insurance mandate as the cornerstone of a new system that leaves individuals freer to make their own health care decisions.

Both of these proposals reflect the authors’ perceptions that the ideological battle between a government-run and a privately-run health care system will not be resolved any time soon. They therefore offer us reforms that move in the direction of more consumer choice, while maintaining some role for government.

The bad news is that the Senate commission chose to ignore these two alternatives, moving instead toward much more government control over health care. The good news is that the commission’s plan is far from adoption.

Improving our health care system is among the most difficult tasks our society faces. Introducing more consumer choice and competition may not go over well with politicians, but it should be welcomed by the rest of us.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst 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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