A bill setting up the framework for universal healthcare was approved Wednesday by the Oregon Senate.
The measure, endorsed on a 22-7 vote, establishes a seven-member board that will propose an overhaul of Oregons healthcare system to make it affordable, effective and universal. That plan then would be presented to the 2009 Legislature, which would make the final decisions about details of the program that will put an emphasis on primary care and prevention rather than expensive specialists.
Once established, state and federal Medicaid money could be combined with contributions from employers and individuals to buy affordable insurance for everyone, backers said. People who enroll would receive a basic package of essential healthcare services at affordable rates from existing insurance carriers, and those people also would be able to purchase additional benefits directly from insurers, they said.
Healthcare costs have risen over 70% since 2002, and thats why we have over 600,000 uninsured Oregonians, said Democratic state Sen. Alan Bates, co-sponsor of the bill. Oregonians cant afford essential primary and preventative care to keep themselves healthy.
The measure now goes to the House for consideration. -- by the Associated Press