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PNS Daily Newscast - June 15, 2021 

Enbridge Energy wins a round on the Line 3 pipeline, but tribal activists say they'll keep fighting, and President Biden issues a warning to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

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The U.S. has seen more than 270 mass shootings in 2021 as lawmakers argue over causes and strategies, President Biden previews his meeting with Vladimir Putin, and Novavax says its COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective.

OR Labor Groups: Health Care Reform and Competition, Not War

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 By Deb CoursonContact
May 27, 2009

Salem, OR – It’s been a war of radio ads for the past week criticizing and praising U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s health care reform proposal, with labor groups and the Oregon Democrat himself paying for air time. Now, labor organizations are calling for a new round of dialogue. They met at the capitol Tuesday afternoon to go over the pros and cons of Wyden's plan. One positive is that the senator gets kudos for being a long-time leader on health care reform. But, the centerpiece of his proposal - to tax employer-based health care as income - is controversial, even with a standard deduction at the end of the year to help offset the new taxes.

Steve Sander is a state employee with Oregon AFSCME Local 2505 who says that doesn’t make sense for everyone because the offset isn't enough to make coverage affordable for everyone - especially for middle-income working families.

"The traditional mantra of public service is that you don’t make as much money, but usually the benefit packages are pretty good. And so to, all of the sudden, have those benefits taxed – I have to say, my members and I, we hate that."

Wyden claims his plan would offer health care to everyone as good as Congress gets. But, Oregonians want something bigger, says Sander, including a much-talked about public insurance option, which is not included in Sen. Wyden’s plan.

"It doesn’t seem like real reform. I think there will be more of an emphasis on quality if everything’s under the microscope of a public health program, which the insurance companies would have to compete with, as well."

Thousands of Oregonians participated in the reform process carried out by the Oregon Health Fund Board, and some of those reforms are moving through the legislature. Labor organizations are concerned Sen. Wyden’s proposal could trump those plans.

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