October 12th, 2010
04:19 PM ET
4 years ago

Dem gov candidate: health care reform could be 'toxic' in 2012

Portland, Oregon (CNN) - Oregon's Democratic candidate for governor said Tuesday that President Obama's health care reform bill will be a "toxic" issue in 2012 unless states are given the opportunity to address the problem of rising medical costs.

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber, a physician and a lead architect Oregon's state run health program, is seeking his old job back this year after serving two terms from 1995 to 2003.

He narrowly leads his GOP opponent, former NBA player Chris Dudley, in recent polls - an unexpectedly tight race in a Democratic-leaning state that's become a top target for national Republicans.

Unlike other Democrats this cycle, Kitzhaber has not sought to distance himself from the president. To the contrary, Obama is coming to campaign for Kitzhaber on Oct. 20, nearly two years after he defeated John McCain by 16 points here in the 2008 presidential race.

But Kitzhaber said he would seek a waiver as governor to launch a "pilot project" to experiment with federal health care dollars and examine ways to reduce costs, and he suggested other states should do the same.

"I supported the passage of the bill but I think we need to recognize that this was really health insurance reform and not health care reform," he said in an interview over coffee at a Portland diner. "What it's done is provided most people in the country financial access to medical care by 2014. The problem is it didn't deal with the underlying cost drivers, and those are embedded in the delivery system."

He proposed creating a community-based risk pool that would focus on prevention and wellness in order to drive down the cost of treating chronic conditions.

"I think that the administration is going to be interested in that because I think this issue is going to be toxic in 2012 unless states can demonstrate that this isn't about spending more money," Kitzhaber told CNN. "This is about changing the system."

Kitzhaber predicted that the Obama administration will be "very interested" in granting waivers to states because by 2012, they'll be eager for new ideas about how to slow skyrocketing costs that are "really hurting" small businesses.

He also pointed to the "economic urgency" of baby boomers becoming eligible for Medicare, a scenario that will put "real fiscal pressure" on the administration to do something about costs.

Though Republican attorneys general around the country have filed lawsuits to block the implementation of health care reform, Kitzhaber dismissed their effort.

"They don't have answer," he said of Republicans. "Clearly health care is going to bankrupt the country, and it's fine to challenge the president's proposal if you have something to do on the table, but they're pretty bankrupt of ideas."

UPDATE: The Kitzhaber campaign issued a statement clarifying his comments and expressing support for the president's broader effort to reform the health care system.

"Republicans will attempt to tarnish the health care agenda and could succeed if there are not clear examples of success working with the states," Kitzhaber said. "I fully intend to make Oregon that shining example to prove the value of the President's reform efforts."


Filed under: 2010 • Chris Dudley • issues • John Kitzhaber • Oregon • President Obama
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. diridi

    it is not toxic...o.k....Al Gore lost because he did not use Clinton, he scared of scandal with Monica...result...looser...o.k, do not be stupid....We wanted Health Care passed for long time...Obama is the first president....once State Run Exchanges set up...they act as if we have public option...obama is smart...i am an educated telling..o.k...

    October 12, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Time Grows Short

    How ironic. Castro is now saying the Cuban "model" isn't working, yet Obama and his Progressive comrades are rushing headlong toward a Castro style dictatorship. And CNN thinks it can escape being eaten alive by the Obamists. I wouldn't bet my corporate life on it.

    October 12, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    It'll be toxic, alright, because it was a big corporate giveaway that reformed nothing. Obama, the corporate stooge that he is, caved on the public option immediately and you "morans" call him a socialist. Why do we even need insurance companies? Seems to me that they're parasites who add nothing to the provision of healthcare and we'd be much better off with a single-payer system. It would cost less tax dollars as well. But no, we're special. Have a nice day!

    October 12, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. 22 Days until Socialism dies in the United States

    Obozocare was NOT a "health reform bill". It was a massive new healthcare entitlement plan and wealth redistribution plan MASQUERADING as a reform bill. The American people aren't stupid and were not fooled by Obozo's and the DemocRATS lies. Everything that has come out since its passage has mad etheir lies even more obvious. It will prove to be the downfall of the entire DemocRAT party. This is what happens when you let socialist/progressives take over your party.

    October 12, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. stufit

    If he thinks it will be toxic in 2012, wait until 2014 when the major part of the robbery occurs. Obama staged it so that it would not kill him fo rthe 2012 election. The full theft of our mney starts in 2014, when he thought it would be to late to do anything about it and of course Randoph Carter is right, he is no expert. Hopefully the new Congress can repeal the whole thing and bring it back along the lines the Republicans originally suggested (but were called names, slammed, bashed, demonized for their efforts).

    October 12, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Time Grows Short
    "How ironic. Castro is now saying the Cuban "model" isn't working, yet Obama and his Progressive comrades are rushing headlong toward a Castro style dictatorship. And CNN thinks it can escape being eaten alive by the Obamists. I wouldn't bet my corporate life on it."
    October 12, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |

    Wow! paranoid much? It must really suck to live every day in fear. Have a nice day!

    October 12, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Time Grows Short

    I agree with Randolph. But lets do this right. Nationalize all food production, home ownership, clothing manufacturing, and automobile ownership. That would REALLY save us money and all of these farmesr, home builders and auto dealers that suck the life blood out of the proletariat can be brought to justice. All Power To The People.

    October 12, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Person

    IF they make Mitt "RomneyCare" Romney their candidate like I suspect they will, it won't be.

    October 12, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Bob in PA

    I thought it was already toxic.
    As an independant, this is the first time I will not even consider a Democrat for any office.

    October 12, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    @time grows short – why don't you read a little bit on the history of Cuba since 1959. You might just learn how completely dumb your post is.
    That being said. Except that we didn't get the public option I am sure that the medicare recipients don't miss the donut hole. Parents of children who are either still at home or in college can continue to cover their children. If you have a pre existing condition it doesn't matter how many times you (or your company) change insurance companies. There is no limit as to any long term care or disease monies you will need.
    If you are in your 20s and haven't had cancer or an accident I guess this makes no sense to you. To the others who are complaining you are just rethugs.

    October 12, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Not if the Democrats learnhow to be politicians.
    The healthcare reform act is a step in the right direction for the country but because the uniformed and the loud Republicans made so much noise that the bill was watered down.
    The Democrats need to be proud of their accomplishments and start selling them!
    Ask why if the wealthy having money is the key to more jobs , then why we do not have them since thier wealth has grown by 8% in the pst 2 years.
    It's time ot educate the head in the sand Americans

    October 12, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Medical research is funded by all American taxpayers and all Americans should have the right to healthcare. If all Americans can't have healthcare then stop paying taxes for medical research that only benefits those who can afford health coverage.

    October 12, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. moderate voter

    I do believe that reform will work out in the end. Since there has been no other work on healthcare. It's better to have a bad idea and learn what works and what doesn't than sit around hoping it fixes itself.

    October 12, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Time Grows Short
    "I agree with Randolph. But lets do this right. Nationalize all food production, home ownership, clothing manufacturing, and automobile ownership. That would REALLY save us money and all of these farmesr, home builders and auto dealers that suck the life blood out of the proletariat can be brought to justice. All Power To The People."
    October 12, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |

    Because that's exactly what happened when every other developed nation on the planet got single-payer? You really are paranoid, man. It must really suck to live every day of your life in fear. Have a nice day!

    October 12, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. Me

    First of all, it's not Obamacare. If Obama wrote the bill or any subsantial portion there of, I could understand it. But congress wrote this bill, if anything, it should be called congress care.
    Second of all, it was a step in the right direction. My only beef is that there was no clear public option.
    Finally, if you can't stand with the party principals when times get tuff (and times are always tuff)
    GET OUT OF THE PARTY YOU SPINELESS COWARD

    October 12, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Jeff in Oregon

    I love living in Oregon where progressive mind sets and the desire to solve problems for the people of Oregon trump the hate and intolerance coming from the Republican right. Go John, you have my full support. Lets put in place our own state run single payer healthcare system.

    October 12, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Time Grows Short
    "...and all of these farmesr [sic], home builders and auto dealers that suck the life blood out of the proletariat can be brought to justice. All Power To The People."
    October 12, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |

    I'd settle for the investment bankers, insurance CEOs and defense contractors. Farmers, Home builders and Auto dealers actually produce something of value. Have a nice day!

    October 12, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. NYC REPUB

    The democrats are like a locker room full of sissies............Obama is the only man among wimps.......It's okay Mr. Prez....you have done what many of your ilk wanted to do for a century......Though they all deny it now, each Dem wants to be ....you.
    Not one of em could do a better job.......
    Obama 2012.

    October 12, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Mr. Kitzhaber:

    I highly recommend that you look up last week's poll by the Public Religion Research Institute which found "that 55% of Independent voters and 79% of Democrats will support candidates who voted for the Healthcare Reform Bill" which bucks the propaganda which the GOP-Koch-TeaParty has been spreading.

    In NOvember vote NO for the Party of NO!

    October 12, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. LacrosseMom(real one)

    @ "Time Grows Short" ....... It is interesting that YOU, Republicans, always cry "Socialism!" and "Communism!" whenever a program comes along to help Americans! Back when FDR was president and he proposed Social Security, that is what the Republicans did..... cried "Socialism!" Then when LBJ passed Medicare, the Republicans again cried "Communism!" What would grandma and grandpa do without Social Security and Medicare?!

    BOTH Social Security and Medicare were called Socialism and Communism by the .......... Republicans! They are still crying!

    October 12, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. D. Bunker

    A large number of rational and sane Americans don't want their health entrusted to insurance company "death panels", which is why we want the public option. Eventually our politicians will catch up to the rest of the world, most of which has better health care (at least in the non-third world countries). In the meantime, the faceless billionaires will keep funding the GOBP in their utimately futile attempts to prevent progress and a more humane approach to healthcare.

    October 12, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. jules sand-perkins

    There are not enough citizens who choose to work to fund socialized health care in this country, although in other countries there are enough productive citizens to offer socialized health-care.
    I was taken to the hospital emergently two weeks ago; I was amazed to learn what my insurance covers!
    Of course, I seldom get sick, and it seems that I work all the time, every day.
    Why should good insurance have to be diluted for the real "workers" of America?

    October 12, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. Mark

    It will be toxic.

    The positive effects were front loaded before the midterm elections. All the negative BS and cost kicks in after.

    October 12, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. Rickster

    I've got some news for you.....Obama's disastrous healthcare bill is toxic now. A horrible bill from an absolutely horrible president.

    October 12, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Boow

    How can you say that health care could be toxic in 2012, when you don't know what's going to happen from day to day.

    October 12, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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