Attorney General Hardy Myers today joined Governor John Kitzhaber and representatives from health care providers and Medicare consumers to announce that Oregon will take legal action to support Minnesota's suit against the federal government over inequitable Medicare reimbursement rates.
"Oregonians, especially older Oregonians on fixed incomes, shouldn't have to pay more for the same health care services that they might receive free or for less if they lived in another state," Myers said. "Oregon Medicare-eligible consumers currently must pay monthly or annual premiums, co-pays for office visits and more for prescription drugs than residents of states like Florida or New York."
According to data from Health Care Financing Administration and the Oregon Consumer Guide to Medicare, Medicare-eligible Oregonians pay monthly premiums ranging from $35-$83 ($420-$996 annually), usually a $10 co-pay per office visit, and all or a portion of their prescription costs, depending on the plan. No Oregon plan provides dental coverage.
This data compared to other states shows, for example, that consumers in Dade County, Florida pay no monthly or annual premiums; of the 11 available plans, only one requires a co-pay for an office visit; generic drug prescriptions are covered in full (some limits apply); and almost every plan provides dental coverage.
"A letter to Oregon's Congressional delegation will be mailed today urging Congress not to turn a deaf ear to the thousands of older Oregonians in our state and 18 others who are being punished for the high cost of health services in other states," Myers said. "It's true Oregon is a great place to live, but we shouldn't have to pay extra for it."
Oregon's amicus brief will be submitted to the court, under the present schedule, on April 10. The court will hear oral argument on defendants' motion to dismiss Minnesota's lawsuit within approximately two weeks. A judge will issue a decision shortly after that.
"In the meantime, we will continue to participate in efforts in Oregon to bring together the various groups that have a vital interest in changing this unfair law," Myers said. "These efforts include linking Oregon organizations to similar organizations in Minnesota and, hopefully, in other states that are being treated as shabbily as we."
Kristen Grainger (503) 378-6002