Could the Oregon Health Plan Help West Virginia’s Strikers?

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West Virginia teachers are keeping their schools closed in all 55 counties March 1, bucking their union and the governor, with no end in sight. The sticking point is the teachers’ healthcare costs, according to Huffington Post and others.

Could a health reform plan like Oregon’s help West Virginians reach agreement and get schools reopened?

This blog has predicted that mounting healthcare spending is unsustainable, and that it will lead to social and political unrest. See more at Why Healthcare Cost Is A Problem. If left unchecked, healthcare spending will also sap the vitality from our economy, our global competitiveness, and our strength as a nation.

The political wrangling in Washington and endless tinkering with healthcare finance (public and private funding streams) will not get at the root cause of soaring costs. See more at Why Is U.S. Healthcare So Expensive? and How Many Healthcare Dollars Are Wasted?

In 1994, Oregon adopted a plan to rein in its Medicaid spending by using cost-benefit analysis to target for elimination low-value healthcare services that weren’t worth the money. This plan achieved widespread public acceptance, was passed into law, and earned approval of the federal government. See more at The Big Fix for U.S. Healthcare.

Adopting this kind of approach could help teachers address the cost of their health plans by acknowledging non-costworthy care and wasteful practices embedded in the healthcare system. This would be a first step toward real healthcare reform that seeks to control relentless cost increases.

Until Americans take action on healthcare reform, there will be more strikes, more budget deficits, more greed and waste, and less money for education as well as for infrastructure, defense, and investment.

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Image Credit:  By Joe Mabel (Photo by Joe Mabel) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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