NU Online News Service, Oct. 14, 3:13 p.m. – The American Association of Health Plans, Washington, says the new government-run, “single-payer” health care program now under consideration in Oregon would increase the state’s health care costs by at least $2.5 billion, or $600 per resident.

Oregon residents will vote on Measure 23, the ballot initiative outlining the single-payer program, in the Nov. 5 elections.

Advocates say passage of the measure would cut out the portion of state health care expenditures now going to pay for health insurance company and health insurance distributor profits, and make the process for allocating health care resources more democratic.

But AAHP, along with many other insurance and business groups, is opposing the measure.

“We are very concerned that Oregon’s single-payer health care system could have dramatic, unintended consequences for the people of Oregon,” AAHP President Karen Ignagni says in a statement about the measure. “The proponents of this measure should be required to disclose the increased health care costs, decreased benefits and higher taxes that will result if this plan is adopted.”

LECG Inc., a consulting firm, conducted the study that found the single-payer initiative would start out increasing Oregon health care costs by at least $2.5 billion. The full cost could be at least $4,000 per resident by 2005, and the provisions for payroll and income tax increases included in Measure 23 to pay for the program would leave a deficit of $3.5 billion to $10 billion, AAHP says, citing the LECG figures.

Oregon would have to cope with the deficit by reducing program benefits or taking funds from other state programs, AAHP says.