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Measure 23: information & disinformation.
Measure 23, the "Oregon Comprehensive Health Finance Act," is comprehensive and well financed by combining current local, state and federal expenditures with a progressive tax on employers' payroll and a progressive family health tax that replaces all insurance payments, co-pays, prescription costs, vision care, mental health service and less costly licensed alternative medicine providers. The plan was recently recognized in the American Journal of Public Health with the potential for prevention, healing and patient satisfaction.
The coverage is what we may all need at some time, with financing achieved by the large risk pool of all Oregonians. The current profit-making and growth-oriented health corporations are creaming off the healthy, leaving the sick to fend for themselves. Under Measure 23, no one is excluded for pre-existing conditions by rule or high-cost premiums. "Medically necessary" treatment returns to clinicians who recommend treatment according to professional practice standards, and patients with a choice in the decision. When bureaucrats deny care, patients end up in the expensive emergency room.
Cost estimates were prepared with advice of the State Revenue Office, data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the General Accounting Office, our consulting health economist, seven national studies and three very recent state studies authorized by the Legislature. All indicate that single-payer plans similar to ours save money.
Savings, estimated at 25 percent, come from the elimination of wasteful paperwork, marketing and excess staff to administrator multiple systems. For-profit corporations' obligation to reward stockholders adds to our health bill with no improvement in access or quality of health, let alone problems of fraud and abuse.
With an employer payroll tax of 3 to 11.5 percent capped at 9.5 percent of total statewide wages, many employers would pay less than they do now (average 13 percent and still rising). With a family health tax of zero to 8 percent not exceeding 3.9 percent of total taxable income, most families would expend much less than they do now with better benefits. Given the present $48,000 average Oregon family income and 4.6 percent average tax for the measure (estimated by the State Revenue Office), an average family would pay $1,755/year or $147/month to cover all health expenses. Those at 150 percent of poverty or less would pay nothing.
The residency requirement "intent to remain in Oregon" is defined in state statute and supported by court decisions with the only exception being tuition to state colleges and universities. No evidence exists that people move from state to state to get health care. They move mainly for employment or other opportunities.
Opposition to Measure 23 is financed by health insurance corporations with lobbyist Mark Nelson, who also lobbies for the tobacco industries. Corrections to their disinformation campaign follow.
"The plan will bankrupt the state, costing billions and causing an education shortfall." The plan is state revenue neutral, financed by the existing taxes we already pay (45 percent) and payroll and family health taxes. Although collected by the state, all monies go directly to the plan specifically for health care, not to the Legislature. The Oregon Health Plan administrative costs will be absorbed by the plan, saving those funds for education.
"The plan brings mountains of red tape." Conversely, by having a single payer, costly, time consuming multiple record keeping systems of insurance companies' and providers' offices will be eliminated, saving money for actual care!
"The system is a free nirvana of unneeded care." It's not free; all contribute according to income to a big pool, the very principle of insurance. Comprehensive benefits save money by attending to problems early on. The average patient has five medical visits per year, and the plan accounts for extra use in the first two years due to a backlog of those previously unable to get care.
"No traditional cost controls." The plan will establish utilization controls within a global budget, negotiating with providers for fair reimbursements. Money saved in the single system should allow for fairer reimbursement to providers. "Traditional" controls that ration care only by cost deny care to those who can't pay. Policy decisions on organ transplants and other expensive heroic interventions will be subject to supply, effectiveness and clinical judgments, as is now the case.
The "power of the board" worries some. Ten elected members and five governor appointees (representing the providers, employers, labor and consumers) are accountable directly to us and to the state. The multiple self-perpetuating boards of our present health systems have no direct accountability to the public other than to grow in a competitive race for marketing and money. Their accountability to patient care has been lost.
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The Visible Homeless
We will not be ignored.
The Eugene Homeless Initiative was founded on one simple principle — sleep. Truly all we seek is the right to sleep without fear of persecution for being homeless. The city of Eugene has a no-camping ordinance that forces most of the 3,500 homeless in Eugene into becoming criminals every single night. All future such illegal camping tickets that come to our attention will be challenged in court and be appealed in higher courts if necessary.
The simplicity of this issue points to a true problem in our nation. All humans require three things to survive: food, water and sleep. The fact that to legally sleep requires either money or legal defiance shows that we are not free in this country without money. This lack of freedom proves that this is not a democratic nation but a sheer capitalistic one.
The only legal alternatives to forced criminal behavior in Eugene is ownership of a vehicle and permission of a private property owner to park and sleep. Or if you have no vehicle you can be placed on an extensive waiting list at St. Vincent de Paul's and still camp illegally while you wait for your name to come up. Often it is months, and only if you qualify.
Another supposed alternative is the Mission. In the Mission you run high risk of getting scabies, lice and tuberculosis (mandatory checks every three months for all who stay there, the risk is so high). Dinner is preceded by mandatory chapel. To get a bed you must be in before 7 pm, which makes it impossible for many with jobs or night school. At night they take your clothes from you, put them in a milk crate and force you to wear their pajamas. You are not allowed to maintain your own possessions and when they are returned often things are missing. If you complain, the employee points to a sign that says "Not responsible for lost or stolen possessions" even though they are the only ones who had access to them.
The Mission is free for the first three days and after that you have to pay. If you don't have the money you have to work in their paper recycling warehouse. I find it a vile place that is little different from the prisons its high strung barbed wire makes it resemble. It is for many not a dignified option, nor does it have 3,500 beds.
This is more than a simple local issue. The problem is worldwide and as the population grows, the number of wealthy grows at a far smaller rate. Poverty levels are rising everywhere and the issue can no longer be ignored. There are too many homeless people to be discounted and forgotten. That is the difference between the past and the future.
We are not asking for anything but land that goes unused, and there is much to be found. We don't ask the city to feed us there, we will do this ourselves. All we seek is the right to a safe place to sleep without being criminalized. We want to get those who are willing and able off the streets. We want to offer dignified solutions for a dignified people. Many of us are employed, students, mothers, fathers and children. We want to do for ourselves what the city has shown it cannot.
All animal species require food, water and sleep for their survival. To deny any of these things is to do more than criminalize a people — it is to kill them. The time has come for solutions that can't be found by issuing tickets to one who cannot pay or stealing (confiscation) from one who has so little.
There are only two solutions and there is neither reason nor excuse for anything but immediate action from the city. One is to allow use of a small parcel of land that is publicly owned and undeveloped and such land is available despite what the some from the city may say. The other is to lift the camping ban. Until one of these is met more and more criminals are being created by the necessity of sleep. More and more anger is being generated by the city's refusal to act as the rainy season begins and the issue becomes impossible to ignore. The Eugene Homeless Initiative will neither ignore these facts nor will we be ignored.
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First of all, huge kudos to EW for igniting the spark to Eugene's Ballot Measure 20-67. Way back when (Feb. 7, "Hey Eugene, Can You Spare $8 Million?"), Alan Pittman outlined how Portland and Ashland provided emergency funds to schools without running afoul of Measure 5. Well done, Alan!
Measure 20-67 is not the long term stable school funding solution that Eugene's school districts so desperately need. But, until Salem really does put this issue on the front burner and a statewide conversation commences with regard to why we still have Measure 5 and how to undo it — the 20-67 tourniquet is necessary to stop the hemorrhaging from the next round of devastating cuts.
That's why you see the "odd bedfellows" in support of Measure 20-67. When's the last time you read Voter's Pamphlet statements with Mayor Jim Torrey, Bonny Bettman, all board members of 4J and Bethel District boards, Sue Prichard, Jack Roberts, Art Johnson, and others all in support of the same issue? Whether you call it kumbaya or a welcome miracle, it explains the severity of school funding and the willingness for a broad coalition to do what it takes to put emergency funds into schools and children.
City Councilman Gary Rayor and Nick Urhausen submitted the only argument in opposition to Measure 20-67 in the Voter's Pamphlet. These "reluctant opponents" argue that the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) is the chief cause for the school funding crisis. I only wish Gilda Radner's "Saturday Night Live" hard-of hearing issues commentator Emily Litella were still with us. As only she could say, the opponents to 20-67 deserve a resounding "Nevermind!"
Please vote yes on 20-67. We can't wait for the state! It's up to us to do something now for kids and schools.
Yes For Schools co-chair
It is heartening to hear Democratic leaders such as Peter DeFazio speak out against an unprovoked war with Iraq. Finally some voices for alternative solutions are beginning to be reported in the press. It is also good to see polls are showing that Americans are very leery about a pre-emptive strike or war without a United Nations mandate.
The one thing that slowed this ill-advised rush to war, giving time for the concerns of Americans to be heard, was for some leaders — such as Al Gore — to question the reasons for that rush to war. Checks and balances can work if power is shared.
The rallies against the war show that people are concerned. Let's hope that their voices are backed up by action. Involvement in the coming election can make a difference.
There is a real danger that the Senate, House and White House will all be controlled by Republicans after the upcoming election. If the Republicans gain just one seat in the Senate, the opposition voice can be stifled. The race for the Senate seat in Oregon is crucial and may decide the balance of power. This balance of power will also affect many other equally important issues such as the environment, the economy and corporate accountability.
Decisions are being made now, and it is important to let your senators know what you think. Of course, it would be nice to have a responsive senator who would represent Oregonians concerns. Bill Bradbury would be such a senator.
Frank and Mary Lou Vignola
Since the terrorists who attacked the U.S. are religious zealots, and Saddam Hussein is a secularist, it's really dumb for the Bush people to take the focus of their attack off of our zealot attackers and put it on secular Iraq instead. There is no way that Saddam and Osama could be allies unless the Bush people attack them simultaneously. Apparently, the Bush people are better at creating enemies than they are at attacking our one proven set of enemies: bin Laden/al-Qaeda.
The worst atrocities have been committed by patriarchal men addicted to fundamentalist religious zealotry. Beware of all fundamentalists for their reason and decency have been hijacked by goofy fantasies, relentless propaganda, deadly brainwashing and conspiratorial secrecy.
I would like to add one more title to the excellent list of books Debra Merskin recommends in her informative article as resources for fibromyalgia (FM) sufferers. Women Living with Fibromyalgia, by Mari Skelly with Kelley Blewster (the undersigned), will be released in November by Hunter House Publishers. The book is built around the personal testimonies of nearly 40 women from all over the U.S. (and one from Australia) who live with this debilitating illness. They write about the frustrations and grief of having FM, but they also share many, many stories about how they manage on a daily basis to live well in spite of — and in some cases because of — their diagnosis.
The most important thing readers should know is that being diagnosed with FM does not have to mean writing off one's life to pain, fatigue and depression. It may take time and persistence to build the right health care team and to find the best combination of conventional treatments and alternative therapies, but feeling better is decidedly an option.
As Merskin points out, FM affects an estimated 2 to
4 percent of the U.S. population. Women are diagnosed with the illness
a shocking seven to 10 times more often than men. The good news is
that readers who know or suspect that they have FM, or who know someone
with the illness, have resources available to help them educate themselves
and their loved
I've received two letters recently, from a P.O. box in Salem, that purport to be from individuals who oppose Measure 23. The first letter I received was supposedly from a former OSU president, and today's letter claims to be from a registered nurse. I'm sure that most of this paper's readers have seen these by now, but it's worth commenting on in any case.
It's not the content of these letters that bothers me — though the one in front of me contains the usual distortions of the truth — as much as the sleaziness of the tactic. These letters are clearly funded by a PAC of some sort — registered or not — that does not wish to identify itself. I contacted the Lane County Election Board after receiving this letter because I thought this was illegal; but apparently, it isn't any longer. Our Legislature has seen fit to remove such requirements from our election laws. These sorts of shenanigans indicate that the opponents of Measure 23 are bent on defeating the measure and don't mind using deception as a campaign tactic. Please remember this when reading their campaign literature, and if you care about quality health care, join me in voting "yes" on Measure 23.
Jim A. Johnson
At first I was chagrined that the diagram of the 10/10 "Jonesin'" puzzle did not match the clues. The diagram was, in fact, from a previous issue. But then I remembered long ago my love of diagramless puzzles. Sure enough, a blank piece of paper and a sense of symmetry sufficed, no sissy black squares! The only frustration is wondering what titillating title the marvelous Mr. Matt Jones must have supplied for the puzzle. "'Band-ananana' — Repeat after me ... me ... me ..."?
James S. Wood
I was very disappointed in The Register-Guard's editorial (10/4) recommending a "no" vote on Measure 23 , which would introduce a single-payer health care system along the lines of every other "first-world" country except the U.S. I was even more disappointed that the R-G chose to cite the AFL-CIO vote against the measure as a good reason to vote against it.
I am an active member of SEIU Local 503/OPEU Local 085, and our leadership also declined to support this ballot measure. I was extremely disappointed with that decision. I will be voting for this measure, and I know a number of other union members — from my own and other unions — who will also support it. I think in this case, union leadership may be out of touch with the needs of the rank and file.
The measure is well crafted and would not prove to be an exorbitant cost to anyone. What is exorbitant is the rate at which health care costs in the state, let alone the nation, are rising. We have the chance here in Oregon to assert that we care for our own and the common good, and that health care should be available to all. You should not have to be rich, poor or unionized to afford to see a doctor! And in countries such as Britain, France, Canada, Denmark, etc., you don't need to be.
I urge thoughtful Oregonians to consider the costs of continuing on as we are and to vote for Ballot Measure 23.
Oregonians deserve to know what they are eating. Under current food labeling laws, consumers aren't told the truth about what they're buying and consuming. Measure 27 will help. The authors of 27 had our long-term physical and financial health in mind. Just think of the probable long term costs in health care and lawsuits arising in the future from serious illnesses due to the consumption of pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified foods. Ignorance is expensive!
Keeping us ignorant is expensive too. Biotechnology and corporate agriculture are spending a lot of money to fight truthful labeling. What are they afraid of? Let's not be misled by short-term thinking and continue to support the consumption of untested foods, allowing ourselves to be guinea pigs for the corporate farms and coerced small farmers who grow crops in an unsafe and unsustainable manner.
Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss. Let's label the food for what it is and let the consumer do the choosing. If those in biotechnology and corporate agriculture truly stand behind their work, the public will make the informed choice of consuming their "safe" products. Encouraging consumers to stay in the dark about what they're eating just indicates to me that these companies have something to hide.
My dear neighbors and fellow citizens, please vote a resounding "yes" on 27. Let's not allow our children to unknowingly eat untested food, especially when good organic food is available to us all! Vote "yes" on 27.
Thirty years ago, in another troubled time, John Prine wrote a song many of us loved to sing as we drove down the road looking at the other cars: "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You into Heaven Anymore" ("It's already overcrowded from your dirty little war"). Well, driving down the road these days reminds me of that song, and I've come up with some newer lyrics addressed to local issues:
Well, your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore;/ No, it's just a piece of plastic, but you're hollow at the core,/ With your SUV's and "Parkway," and your spineless Legislature,/ Your Wal-Mart and your Target, and your disrespect of nature,/ You let the TV rule you — the advertising and the trash,/ You worship its foul idols, its "Survivors" and its cash.
But it's the corporations' tool to keep you brainwashed and asleep!/ They want you to forget that what you sow you'll later reap./ You buy their garbage, wear their logos and talk about their soaps,/ Like it gives your life real meaning — but like heroin, it's dope.
You're not caring about education; you supporting nonsense legislation;/ You're giving Bush his dirty war; you're blessing rich and cursing poor./ So if you're one who's living like you've got no soul or mind,/ Don't expect a flag to save you — learn to love and to be kind.
For original lyrics, see www.jpshrine.org/lyrics/songs/jpflagdecal.html
I am writing in response to Melissa Lewis' article on Dr. Phillip Leveque of Molalla (8/8). The Board of Medical Examiners (BME) this spring suspended Dr. Leveque's license to practice osteopathic medicine for a period of 90 days, commencing May 1, 2002.
I noted several factual errors and errors of omission in the article and would like to clarify or correct these. First, Dr. Leveque's license was suspended and he was fined because he violated the board-prescribed standard of care for a licensed physician in the state of Oregon. Under this standard, physicians are required to conduct thorough patient histories and physical examinations, establish plans for diagnosis and treatment, and maintain careful patient records.
Dr. Leveque acknowledged that he had violated this standard of care by signing a Stipulated Order on April 10, 2002. This does not constitute criminal prosecution. There was an appeal process available to Dr. Leveque, as there is to all licensees who are disciplined by the board. However, he freely opted to sign the order and accepted his suspension and fine.
The appeals process is a timely one, and hearings are conducted by a hearing officer selected from a group that operates under the auspices of the Oregon Hearings Officer Panel. There is no BME judge, contrary to a statement in the sixth paragraph of your article.
Finally, I would like to note for the record that no one from your publication contacted me nor any staff or board member for information or comment on the matter involving Dr. Leveque. I feel that your readers would have received a clearer and more balanced view of the matter had all involved parties been interviewed. The board and I would appreciate clarification of the Leveque case in your publication and request that in the future, you or your reporters contact me when crafting articles about BME activities. Thank you for your attention to the matter.
Executive Director Board of Medical Examiners, Portland
Here are a few well-researched facts regarding annual preventable deaths in America. Bear in mind how much money is spent on the eradication of illegal drugs as opposed to the other preventable causes of death listed here. The total cost to society from alcohol abuse is greater than that of any other drug, but the vast majority of funding for law enforcement goes toward eradicating illegal drugs and incarcerating their users.
Tobacco: 430,730. Alcohol: 110, 640. Adverse reactions to prescribed drugs: 106,000. Suicide: 30,575. Homicide: 18, 272. All Licit and Illicit drug-induced deaths: 16, 926. Anti-inflammatory drugs: 7,600. Marijuana: 0. (Sources on file at EW.)
Gives a new twist on the so-called War on Drugs, doesn't it? Why not also have a War on Suicide or a War on Adverse Drug Interactions? Well, the War on Drugs is a good campaign slogan for politicians, it provides lots of money for already bloated law enforcement budgets and has created a boom in the prison construction industry.
I'll save an examination of those factors for my next letter. Just keep in mind the perspective that illegal drugs cause far less damage to society than legal drugs do, despite all the anecdotal horror stories promulgated by government propaganda.
I read more lately about the homeless being ticketed (or worse) for camping on public property or roads. At the same time, I see scads of motorhomes parked on the public streets with Grandma and Grandpa merrily camping away, ticketless. It would be nice if somebody would explain the difference. Portland provides a camping space, but Eugene can't seem to make the stretch? Replacing the outlook of, "It can't happen here," with, "There, but for the grace of God, go I," might improve things.
Seems like a "cite everybody" or "cite nobody" situation to me. But then I'm from Iowa and genetically burdened with common sense.
Thank you EW for your news article on Comrade Judge Wayne Allen (10/3). It is nice to know Soviet-style re-education classes are still popular in the judicial system of Eugene. Perhaps it is Judge Allen who needs the education.
Marijuana is an herb that has been used by the human species for more than 2,000 years (Plants of the Gods, Healing Arts Press).
If marijuana is smoked or eaten, it has the intoxicating effect of mild euphoria. This euphoria takes the form of the five senses being heightened:
Sight: This is why people who are stoned like posters with a lot of color and intricate patterns. Sound: In my own experience, it was when I was stoned that I could first pick out each individual instrument being played while listening to a band. Smell: To stop and smell the roses is even more enjoyable while stoned. Taste: Why do stoned people get the munchies? Because the food tastes soooooo good. Touch: Is it any surprise that people on marijuana give great massages and have great sex!
If Judge Allen is interested in any educational materials he may contact me and I have a few books I can loan him — as long as he promises not to burn them.
The biotechnology industry is scared about the impact on its profit margin that Measure 27 represents. That is why biotech companies are pouring money into Oregon to distort the issue and convince voters that this measure is not in their best interest.
Contrary to what the opponents to Measure 27 say, labeling foods will not create more bureaucracy in our lives. Rather, it will give consumers the only means we have to choose products that do not contain these untested ingredients. If the EPA classifies something a "pesticide" that the FDA considers a "potato" (genetically engineered to contain pesticides), then I do not trust the government to decide what is safe for me to eat.
Only a quarter of 1 percent of the farmers in Oregon use genetically engineered seeds. All the farmers I know are voting "yes" on Measure 27 because they know that genetically engineered products are a huge threat to their livelihoods (e.g., via cross-pollination, lawsuits for "patent infringements," pests that become resistant to normal pesticide application, etc.).
Measure 27 is simply about labeling our food. We expect to be able to know how much fat, protein or sugars are in our packaged foods, but there was a battle to win this right. This legislation is based on the same principle. Oregon may be the first state to offer this choice, but it will not be the last. If we can cast enough votes in favor of Measure 27, we will be a leader in this basic upgrade in our human rights.
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