With Ron Saxton as Governor of Oregon, we might as well just outsource all government services to Wal-Mart. After all, average 'associates' at the super efficient retailer earn under $10 bucks an hour, most with no health care benefits.
Consider Saxton's plan for privatizing DEQ's vehicle emissions testing program. It's cheaper by $6 in Washington for the same test. Why? Because the public employees who run the tests on cars in Oregon make a starting hourly wage of $12.50. In Washington, it's $8.75, comparable to the pay at Wal-Mart.
Kulongoski said he's "...not interested in laying off public employees just to create minimum-wage jobs." And that's what Saxton's "visionary" efficiencies essentially come down to.
Not to mention skimpier health care benefits. In case you haven't noticed, health care costs continue to rise at rates that far exceed inflation. The cost of health care stretches the budgets of both state government and private employers. Dealing with health care is the most important domestic issue facing this country. But neither major candidate for Governor has addressed it as such, a concern for those who believe it should be a "major issue":
"It hasn't become a campaign issue," says Ellen Pinney, policy advocate for the Oregon Health Action Campaign, an advocacy group for the uninsured.
It hasn't become a "campaign issue" because there isn't much difference between Saxton's market-based approach to achieving health care "efficiencies" and Kulongoski's efforts to extend state coverage to all children. Both rely on the existing edifice of private medical insurance:
"Both Kulongoski and Saxton favor putting preventive incentives in health care plans, reducing prescription costs through bulk purchasing by the state and making medical costs more visible so that patients can shop for the best price."
Kulongoski should bite the the bullet and call for single payer national health care. That's the only viable way out of the health care morass, both for government and the private sector. In the meantime, he should propose the immediate expansion of the state Medicaid program to insure everyone who currently lacks insurance.
That's the kind of bold program Dr. Richard Wopat of the Oregon Health Policy Commission has in mind when he says he's "...not interested in incremental change."