Below is a letter by a small businessman that was sent to 60 newspapers and never used. It gives an honest criticism of Kulongoski’s Healthy Kids Plan. We think it would be terrible for the media to only show you one-side of this important debate, so here is the letter that editors are ignoring:
Closer look at Healthy Kids Plan.
In the debate over Oregon’s Healthy Kids Plan, many significant failures of the program are getting little attention. Most Oregonians agree that something needs to be done to help uninsured children get good health insurance. However, the state of Oregon needs to take a hard look at this plan and really study the details and funding, which are being passed over by both the media and many Legislators.
The plan encourages parents who have health insurance for their kids, through their employer to switch to a state assisted program. Many families in Oregon responsibly pay for their children’s health care and forego other luxuries such as expensive cars and the latest gadgets. Even at the newly reduced qualifying amount, this proposed plan would be available to families of four with household incomes of $62,000. The State should be very concerned about how many people will opt out of their current plan to a free, taxpayer subsidized plan.
The State should also be worried about how many families move to Oregon to join the plan. Yes, they do have to prove residency in the State of Oregon for 6 months, but the requirements are very vague, and there is no prohibition of coverage for children who are not legal residents or citizens of the United States.
Finally, the plan requires funding from a cigarette and tobacco tax increase which means that 20% of Oregonians, those that smoke, will be paying for the plan. In addition, retailers such as myself will lose even more sales to Internet and other black market purchases. Our stores rely on the sales of cigarettes to make a profit, and some of the 3,000 retailers in Oregon will have to lay off employees, many of whom have benefits and health insurance. Recent news articles have highlighted the fact that cigarette tax collections are declining. Yet the State of Oregon tosses the economic numbers aside and is pushing forward on an important piece of legislation that relies on an unstable funding source. And, only half of the projected revenue actually goes to the Health Kids Plan.
Representative Merkley’s, who is helping to pass the plan, states in a press release that “nothing we will consider this session is more important for families than affordable, accessible health care for all Oregon’s children.” It’s true. Consequently, the Oregon Legislature should take the time to study the details, get the facts on their unanswered questions and find a stable funding source. Does the State really want to force children off the plan in two years, due to lack of revenues and huge enrollment numbers? If not, Legislators need to get it right the first time when implementing this program. We owe it to Oregon’s kids.
Jim is the CEO of James D. Trenary, Inc. which owns and operates 12 retail stores and gas stations throughout the state of Oregon, while employing over 140 people.