Saturday, February 26, 2011

PBOT as sinecure

The O asks a good question when they wonder how Tom Miller can be the best person for the job of leading the Portland Bureau of Transportation, but they are wrong to blame the commission form of government.  It is a virtue of that system that we know so clearly who is responsible for the appointment.  Adams made that pick, and he can and should be held accountable for it in the 2012 elections.  Evaluating politicians for their actions is our responsibility as citizens, no system or process will protect us if we fail to meet it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Health Care Hearings

The Oregon Senate Committee on General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection chaired by Chip Shields is meeting on Wednesday to hear testimony on Drivers of the Cost of Health Care.

This will be the third such meeting dealing with health care, the prior two dealt with Oregon’s insurance regulation framework and a review of how other states regulate health insurance. Both hearings were highly informative and are worth listening to (podcasts are available on the committee web page).

The speakers scheduled for Wednesday are:

  • Leanne Gassaway, Senior Regional Director for State Affairs, America's Health Insurance Plans
  • Ken Provencher, Chief Executive Officer, PacificSource Health Plans
  • Aaron Crane, Senior Vice President of Operations and CFO, Salem Hospital Regional Health Services
  • Dr. Rick Wopat, Oregon Academy of Family Physicians
  • Linda L Morley, RN, MN, PMHNP
  • Sean Colmer, Deputy Administrator, Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research

Why health care costs are rising is the $64,000 question when it comes to health insurance reform.  Here are the questions I want asked:

  1. Oregon health care costs are rising by approximately 12% a year.  Why?  What cost increases are you seeking from insurers in your contract negotiations, and where is the extra money going?
  2. Please provide a walkthrough of how your rates are set, from start to finish.
  3. How much cost shifting occurs, and what oversight is there of that specifically in the rate setting process?  (Side note:  compare and contrast the doctrine governing insurance rate making and hospital ratemaking).
  4. Do you offer discounts to people who pay their bills immediately with a  credit card?  (Side note: At least one Portland metro area hospital did as of 2009, taking up to 20% off the bill.)

I look forward to hearing this.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fodder for Portlandia: The First Denny’s!

A burgeoning case of Portland Hoarding Syndrome. Observable symptoms:

  • Opposition to redevelopment based on fantastical claims of historical, emotional, or environmental significance.
  • Lack of utilitarian analysis. All structures are functionally statues, their use is of no consequence.
  • Lack of local awareness. It makes no difference that an area is targeted for high density redevelopment with massive investment in public transit.
  • Allergy to numbers, especially those accompanied by dollar signs.

This may seem harmless but around here you never know.