Writings and observations

Catching med costs where they happen

This, Senate Bill 741, has the potential to be one of the most important things the legislature of Oregon – or of any other state this year – does:

Establishes Hospital Cost Commission to regulate billed charges for hospital services. Specifies duties, powers and functions of commission. Provides remedy for individual or third party payer that is billed unreasonable hospital charges. Establishes Hospital Cost Commission Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to commission for purposes of carrying out provisions of Act.

The federal budget deficit and ongoing debt, and the growth of state budgets, relate more to ballooning health care costs than to any other single factor. There’s no one single way to go after it, but seriously bearing down on the explosive costs of hospital-related expenses surely would have to be one of the most productive.

The bill comes Senator Lee Beyer, D-Springfield. On Thursday, on a visit to Portland, he and Governor John Kitzhaber released another bill, Senate Bill 766, which would all for creation of economic zones around the state, simplifying land use requirements in some places. Beyer said that it “will solve one of the biggest problems facing this state’s economic recovery.” It has some real promise.

But that of 741 seems even greater.

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