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Healthy Kids Plan is good public policy

In an article in the Feb. 22 Tidings, Rep. Scott Bruun speaks out against HB2201, the plan for Oregon's Healthy Kids. He makes many statements questioning whether a family of four earning $61,000 should be eligible for this type of subsidy.

When you consider that the cost of healthcare insurance premiums in today's market for this family are over 25 percent of their take-home pay, that argument loses credibility.

Bruun cites that 60 percent of smokers earn under $35,000. He does not mention that this group is also over-represented by single white males under the age of 30.

If four of them moved in together, they would have a household income of over $140,000. This is not asking poor people to pay for the healthcare of the more affluent.

Rep. Bruun goes on to suggest that smokers should only have to pay for the public health costs that smoking produces. Great! When?

How much is the bill for 100 years of emphysema, lung cancer, and respiratory illness? A trillion? What comes after a trillion? A gazillion? I will take my tax rebate from smokers in the form of a cashier's check, please.

Mr. Bruun wants to be sure that people move to Oregon for the right reasons - according to him those are jobs and schools. A healthcare system that ensures coverage for all children is not. That might attract the 'wrong' kind of people.

Who decides what are the right reasons for moving to Oregon and who will be monitoring everyone's intent? If I declare that I moved here for the mountains and beaches but then decide that I like the healthcare system, will I be asked to leave?

Finally, do not be fooled by Bruun's closing statement that a better plan for children's healthcare can be funded through the general fund. There is no plan to do so and HB2201 is the only real hope of getting this policy enacted in this legislative session.

Since Rep Bruun has both his arms, (he offered to cut one off should his children ever be confronted with the prospect of no health insurance.) we can only assume his children are not at risk.

For 117,000 children here in Oregon that is not the case. No one is offering to cut off their arm to save them. They cannot wait until the next legislative session. The bill may be voted on as early as March 1. To make your voice heard, contact Rep. Bruun:

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1437

Interim Phone: 503-650-6958

Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-477, Salem,, OR, 97301

Interim Address: 2020 Eighth Ave., PMB 160 - Suite 230, West Linn, OR 97068

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Let him know you are standing up for the 117,000 that he is not.

As a community that has witnessed the courage of Hayley Resk, we know firsthand the burden that catastrophic illness places on middle class families.

The Healthy Kids Plan is not just good public policy; it's the good neighbor policy.

Senator Gordon Smith has joined Governor Kulongoski in supporting this important bill. Add your voice.

Bev Backa is a West Linn resident who ran for the House seat in District 37 but lost the November 2006 general election to Scott Bruun.