ConCare: Oregon Dems push to make private insurance pay for jail inmates

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by NW Spotlight

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) is driving HB 4110 through the Oregon Legislature with strong support from Democrats in the House and Senate. The bill is attempting to shift some jail health care costs from county budgets to Oregonians who pay for health insurance.

Currently, once someone in Oregon goes to jail (county jail) – federal health care programs stop (Veterans Benefits, Medicaid, Medicare), state benefits stop (Oregon Health Plan) and private insurance coverage stops. The jail health care costs are then paid for out of county sheriff’s budgets, which already are stretched thin.

So of all of the types of health benefits and health insurance that stop when someone goes to jail, HB 4110 only picks on Oregonians who pay for health insurance. It doesn’t even make changes to benefits stopping for people on the Oregon Health Plan.

The bill appears to be an attempt to get some financial relief to counties, but solely on the backs of Oregonians with private health insurance. It’s really a back door way to tax people with private health insurance – one more hidden way to make Oregonians’ insurance premiums go up.

A much better approach would be to get meaningful revenue to counties through job growth or by reducing county costs by doing more meaningful PERS reform, eliminating unfunded state mandates, etc. There are a number of ideas for stimulating job growth, including reducing barriers to using Oregon’s natural resources like timber.

Increasing Oregonian’s health insurance premiums isn’t the right approach, and it’s not fair to Oregonians who pay for their health insurance.