|Author||Subject: The Govenor has spoke once again!!|
|Advocate|| Posted At 13:47:05 01/21/2000
By CHARLES E. BEGGS
The Associated Press
01/21/00 1:58 PM Eastern
SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon must move to ensure universal health coverage
with government determining the "minimum level of care provided to all
citizens," Gov. John Kitzhaber said today in his annual state-of-the-state
"Because some individuals cannot afford to purchase coverage, the government
must provide subsidies to make insurance affordable to all citizens,"
Kitzhaber said in a speech prepared for delivery to the Portland City Club.
Kitzhaber gave no details, saying he'll convene a statewide summit of
legislators and other government and private sector leaders to draft
recommendations for the 2001 Legislature.
The governor's address focused on education and health care, especially on
making sweeping improvements in the Oregon Health Plan that he drafted and
pushed through the Legislature a decade ago as a state senator.
Kitzhaber said the health plan has helped decrease the number of Oregon
adults without insurance to 10 percent from 18 percent in 1994 and uninsured
children from 21 percent to 7 percent.
But more than 300,000 Oregonians remain without coverage, including 66,000
"That is simply indefensible," Kitzhaber said. "I ask you to join me in
recommitting ourselves to make Oregon the first state in the nation with
universal health coverage."
He said the roles businesses and individuals as well as government must
share in achieving health coverage for all the "must be clearly and
But he made no mention of whether he would revive a part of his original
health plan that would require all employers to insure their workers.
The so-called employer mandate died in the Legislature under heavy small
business opposition, a major setback for universal coverage hopes.
On education, Kitzhaber urged support for his two proposed initiative
measures on creating a reserve fund and requiring lawmakers to give schools
enough money to meet state-set quality standards.
Kitzhaber also said he wants to improve geographical access to four-year
college degrees by expanding programs that allow students to obtain degrees
through Central Oregon Community College at Bend.
But none of his efforts can advance, he said, unless voters defeat anti-tax
activist Bill Sizemore's initiative measure to repeal limits on deductions
of federal taxes from state income taxes.
If passed, the tax cut would slash $1 billion from the current state budget
and $1.6 billion in the 2001-03 fiscal period.
"If we let this happen, reflect for a moment on what it says about our
priorities and our values as Oregonians," Kitzhaber said.