As if it didn’t have enough on its plate, the Albany City Council has been asked to get involved in the drive by many Democrats in Salem and Washington for single-payer health insurance. It may do so by considering a resolution on June 10.
This came up when Ray Hilts, an Albany resident and member of the local chapter of a group calling for health care for all, appeared before the council Wednesday and asked members to pass a resolution supporting Oregon Senate Bill 770, which would establish a state commission to design a single-payer insurance plan for universal health care.
He offered to supply a suggested resolution, and Mayor Sharon Konopa said that if he does, it could come up at a council work session on June 10. She and Councilor Dick Olsen thought a universal system might reduce health insurance costs for employers, which would help with Albany’s city budget issues.
SB 770 cleared the Senate Health Care Committee on April 8 with three Democrats in favor and two Republicans against. It was referred to the Joint Ways and Means Committee, where it has been stuck since.
The bill would establish an 18-member Universal Health Care Commission. The commission would be charged with recommending a design for a “Health Care for All Oregon Plan.” This plan would be intended “to provide high quality, publicly funded health care available to every individual residing in Oregon.”
Further, the commission would have to issue an interim report next March and its final recommendations to the legislature by Feb. 1, 2021.
The Senate committee was told that 93.8 percent of Oregonians had health insurance in 2017. Some 47.5 percent were covered through private group health insurance, 26 percent through Medicaid, 15.1 percent through Medicare, and 5.2 percent through private individual insurance.
Hilts told the council that out-of-pocket medical expenses for him and his wife in 2018 totaled $18,000. While they could afford it, he added, he was worried about the many people who could not. (hh)