A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council backs health care commission bill, 4-3

Written June 12th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Ray Hilts talks to the Albany council as supporters of “health care for all” listen Wednesday night.

The Albany City Council waded into the health care debate Wednesday. It voted 4-3 to support a Democrat-sponsored bill to create a commission to design a single-payer medical system, one that covers everybody living in Oregon and is paid for by the state.

Mayor Sharon Konopa voted for the motion, breaking a 3-3 council tie. Kellum, Sykes and Coburn voted no. Alex Johnson II, Bessie Johnson (by phone from vacation), and Olsen voted yes.

Members of a local chapter of Health Care for All Oregon, headed by Ray Hilts, asked the council to support state Senate Bill 770, which is pending in the legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Konopa characterized the bill as creating a commission that would merely study the idea to see how and whether a single-payer health care system could work. “We need to know in Oregon,” she said. Several speakers from the audience made the same point, more or less: It’s just a proposal for a study.

Actually, if the bill becomes law, it “establishes the 18-member Universal Health Care Commission to design the Health Care for All Oregon Plan, a universal health care system that is equitable, affordable, comprehensive, provides high quality health care, and is publicly funded and available to every individual residing in Oregon.” Those are the words of the legislative staff summary of the measure.

A different summary adds: “Requires the Commission to produce findings and recommendations for a well-functioning universal health care system that is responsive to the needs and expectations of the residents of the state. …  Requires the Commission to submit its final finding and recommendations to the Legislative Assembly no later than February 1, 2021.”

Whether anything comes of the bill is unknown. As of Wednesday night, the legislative website showed that no action was scheduled. (hh)


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13 responses to “Council backs health care commission bill, 4-3”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    You can hear the fear in Hasso Hering’s “voice” as he imagines a world where you don’t need to land a job where someone other than you [the employer] pays for your healthcare in order you to get healthcare.

    Imagine that! Healthcare not tied to the old Euro-centric shibboleth “personal responsibility above all else.”

    But wait, didn’t we learn in Hasso’s last dive into this same topic that 41% of Linn County residents are already on some form of government-subsidized healthcare. Medicaid and Medicare come to mind. It seems the “greatest healthcare in the world” (questionable based on outcomes) is still the greatest in spite of heavy government interference in the healthcare marketplace. I guess we can all relax.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Hasso isn’t on the council, so let’s leave him out of the conversation.

      But I recall someone saying the following in regards to Albany’s council:

      “The grim truth is – Albany citizens continually vote against their own interests. The inevitable result is an Out-of-Touch City Council, perennially repeating costly mistakes. In some masochistic twist, voters reelect them – the definition of insanity.”

      Insanity is a good word to describe why voters elected four Democrats: Konopa, A. Johnson, B. Johnson, and Olsen.

      I can understand Konopa – nobody wants to be just a figurehead. The position doesn’t pay and has no real power, other than to break an occasional tie and impose a veto once every 10 years or so.

      No, voter behavior is head scratching when it comes to Bessie Johnson from Ward 3. Normally a conservative Ward, they continually re-elect this true blue Democrat.

      Hopefully her wish to impose Healthcare for All and the crushing tax burden it will cause Ward 3 taxpayers opens enough eyes to oust her in the next election.

      • J. Jacobson says:

        No one in their right mind would confuse Bessie Johnson with the Democrats.

  2. Cheryl P says:

    If individual member of the City Council wish to support the bill, that is their right, but a representatives of the citizens of the city of Albany, they have no business doing so.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      This is *exactly* what City Councillors are tasked to do. Don’t like how your Ward’s representative votes? Change your representative with your vote at election time!

  3. thomas earl cordier says:

    Of course JJ does not like to be tied to personal responsibility–he never has been responsible–it is always somebody else.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Hasso purposely points out the intent of SB 770 is more than “a proposal for a study.”

    Hasso goes on to contrast what the local Democrats (Mayor and the Hilts gang) said with the actual wording from the bill. This leaves no doubt that lies were told.

    As a minimum, lies by omission were involved because critical information was left out. At worst, a big lie was told with the intent to deceive Albany residents about what the legislation will do.

    The three Democrats on the Council need to be more careful in the future about aligning themselves with those who are less than truthful.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      There you go again. Going over the article several times now, I read *nothing* in the verbiage Hasso quoted that implies anything other than what it is: a PLAN. It will be the legislature that will take it up and put it through that wonderful maw of law-making. It will not come out of the sausage grinder as written in the plan. That you can take to the bank.

  5. HowlingCicada says:

    Medicare is an extortion racket (to my own significant benefit) because it makes everyone else pay higher to make up for Medicare’s low reimbursement rates. Employer-paid insurance is a bad idea for many reasons. It’s very unfair because it isn’t taxed as income to the employee, therefore paid for in part by those who don’t have it, hence another extortion racket. Most doctors (especially primary care) end up with low pay compared to all they put into their profession, their skill, and their long and expensive education. Drug prices are an ever-increasingly-insane and opaque mess – maybe Trump (whom I otherwise detest) will help here.

    The whole system is rotten to the core. Executives whose biggest skill is not medicine, but instead manipulation, cheating, public relations, and compartmentalization (sociopathy?) earn more than anyone else in huge disproportion to their managerial skills. Working for them is an army of over-paid, lying sales reps (think opioids). And, don’t forget the hedge-funders and other money managers who manipulate medical stocks for privatized profit and socialized losses.

    Will single-payer fix any of this? I really don’t know, but I’m willing to support trying (or at least studying) anything that will shake things up.

  6. Ken Walter says:

    Single-payer sounds great until you try to pay for it. The same people responsible for PERS will now run single payer? Fix PERS before going to single payer, prove to tax payers you can do more than kick the can down the road.

  7. Alex Johnson II says:

    I appreciate all the comments about the Council. I am concerned that someone thinks voters are insane. I don’t believe any of Albany’s Citizens are insane. In fact, people that actually participate in local, state and federal elections help our country thrive. My Grandfather taught me the following lesson, “People that don’t vote forfeit the right to complain” If you voted, great! If not, why not?

    If you would like to meet with me and discuss your concerns, I am open to meeting at a local coffee shop. I believe it is important to meet in person to actually get to know someone by having a real conversation.

    It’s an open offer and the first cup is on me.

    Alex Johnson II


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