Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO) supporters will descend on the Capitol steps in Salem on Wednesday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., to rally and call on state legislators to act, drawing their attention to the fact that far too many Oregonians still lack affordable health care. HCAO proposes a health care system that covers everyone living or working in Oregon-no exceptions-with no co-pays and no deductibles.
The Rally program includes music from Oregon performers such as Norm Sylvester singing The Health Care Blues, the Raging Grannies, Salem’s Dr. Atomic, Anne Weiss, and David Rovics, and "Mad As Hell Minutes," when individuals can share their own health care stories. The Rally will also feature inspiring speakers, including Senator Michael Dembrow and other supporters.
"20 years as a small business owner convinced me that we need to dramatically change our current health care system” notes Lee Mercer, HCAO Board President. “Businesses should be focused on providing the services they are best at, not administering health care plans, and health care providers should be focused on keeping patients healthy, not administering multitudes of insurance payment plans.
Health Care for All-Oregon is a coalition of over 100 organizations supporting the HCAO mission: "To create a comprehensive, equitable, affordable, publicly funded, high quality, universal health care system serving everyone in Oregon and the United States." Coalition members include unions, businesses, advocacy organizations, and political, religious and local community groups from around Oregon. HCAO expects to have 2500 people at the Rally, including members arriving by buses and car pools from Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, and as far away as Ashland, LaGrande and the Coast.
Then Representative, now Senator, Michael Dembrow introduced legislation in the 2011 legislative session and gained 11 co-sponsors. He re-introduced legislation in 2013 and doubled the number of co-sponsors, while also winning passage of a bill to conduct a study of how to best fund health care for all in Oregon. While the study was not funded, a portion of the cost of the study has been raised privately, and a bill will be submitted in 2015 to fund the remainder of the study. Dembrow and co-sponsors will also re-introduce the HCAO legislation for universal health care.
While the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) has resulted in millions of Americans gaining health insurance, and has reduced the number of uninsured Oregonians, at least 5% of Oregonians still lack any health insurance, and a much larger portion are ill-protected by the insurance they do have, with large deductibles and unaffordable out-of-pocket expenses. This HCAO Rally will focus attention on the need for truly universal health care, and the savings that could be accomplished by establishing a simple system that includes EVERYONE.
Or, as Mercer concludes, “We should give people the freedom to choose their medical providers and to get health care when they need it without the intervention of big for-profit insurance companies."