Writings and observations

ridenbaugh Northwest
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We don’t often reprint issue letters – the type that encourage people to sign a petition on some issue, for example. But this one advocates for an idea on health care we’ve been supporting for years, and now it might become actual state law. The mail comes from the public interest organization OSPIRG.

We all know health care still costs too much. But how much does it cost? If you’ve ever asked, you know: They won’t tell you.

Why? Because, unlike every other business in America, hospitals get to keep their prices a secret. As a result, they get away with charging outrageous prices and surprising fees, often for routine procedures.

A bill to make Oregon’s hospitals post their actual prices online is scheduled for its first vote next Monday. Hospital and insurance industry lobbyists are working to defeat the proposal. Will you stand with us?

Tell your state lawmakers: Make hospitals post their prices.

Not too long ago, my friend’s wife cut her finger deeply and went to the emergency room. The doctor gave her a tetanus shot and a few dabs of a skin adhesive called Indermil. A few weeks later, they got a bill for $2,300. They charged her $1000 for the skin glue alone, even though it can be purchased online for $40 a tube.

What other business gets away with that?

When pressed on why they can’t just post their actual prices, hospitals will tell us it is too difficult and too complicated.

But it isn’t, really. They already know their prices – they just don’t want to make them public. In fact, hospitals and insurance companies actually have written agreements to keep the prices they negotiate a secret.

This is absurd and we should not tolerate it a moment longer. Inflated prices due to lack of competition and excessive price variation have led to $105 billion in waste in health care spending each year.

It is time to get the health care industry to do what every other business in America does.

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A look at the container yard at the Port of Lewiston. Last week, reacting to the loss of a service contractor at the port of Portland which in turn led to loss of service at Lewiston, the Idaho port suspended most container service and announced layoffs. See the economy/business section in this issue. (Photo /Port of Lewiston)

 

For most of Friday, the Idaho Legislature seemed to be just a little too far behind the curve to adjourn for the year – it seemed likely to return for at least a day or two this week. But then, around midnight, it wrapped up. The late-night fallout will be examined and re-examined this week.

The Oregon Legislature has been moving ahead in overdrive – passing a school budget weeks ahead of the normal schedule. Might it adjourn in the early part of summer?

In Washington, it’s time now for the clash of the budgets – the Republican Senate and the Democratic House. Recognizing the reality of the budget-passing imperative and the option of a gubernatorial veto, some compromises are likely. But expect a lot of position-taking between here and there.

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Questions over how many Idaho wolves there are (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Defendants with mental health issues have spiked (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho Legislature adjourns for year (Moscow News)
Preparations back on for canyon jump (TF Times News)

Neighbors dislike rehab center idea at Ashland (Medford Tribune)
Senators help dedicate Oregon Cave monument (Medford Tribune)
Gas prices will be lower this summer (Portland Oregonian)
Several perimenter breaches noted at PDX (Portland Oregonian)
Subdivision development fee possible at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Local incentives for pot sales may be coming (Bellingham Herald)
Housing market becomes much hotter (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing has plane supply issues at Everett (Everett Herald)
Lead-stren gun ranges still get federal contracts (Seattle Times)
Interstate widening resumes at Snoqualmie (Spokane Spokesman)
Food trucks setting down at Coeur d’Alene (Spokane Spokesman)
Kindergartens pressed for space (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima admins wary of cost of smaller classes (Yakima Herald Republic)

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