John Partridge, M.D., says he hopes an initiative on the Nov. 5 Oregon ballot will create the first single-payer healthcare system in the nation, despite failures of similar measures in California in 1992 and in Massachusetts in 2000.
The 82-year-old retired doctor, who helped draft the Oregon proposal, admits that his initiative has little funding, scant support from Oregon politicians and strong opposition from insurers. The campaign for the initiative is "grass roots, door-to-door and telephone banking," Partridge says.
But he says he's heartened by developments in Maine, where a legislative committee is studying universal coverage; and in Vermont, where Gov. Howard Dean, M.D., is touting a three-part plan for universal coverage in his re-election campaign.
Partridge says the proposed Oregon system would begin in 2005, creating an independent agency with a $20 billion yearly budget. Oregonians would pay a maximum 8% of income, and businesses would pay no more than 11.5% of payroll.
Mark Ganz, president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, has criticized the new system as being too costly for business. But Partridge says that after several years of operation, it would cost less than the current system because administrative costs would be four times less.