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Why Universal Health Care Now?

By Glendora Claybrooks, February 11, 2013

Our political environment and socio-economic factors underline and define the problematic needs that exist--needs which determine and support the public decision as to why the time is right for single payer universal health care now.

Oregonians have elected overwhelmingly Democratic progressive leadership in the 77th Legislative Assembly of the Oregon House and Senate. Oregonians have also elected a Democratic governor, John A. Kitzhaber. These outcomes prove the time, place, and opportunity feasible for garnering public support in urging legislative action to enact single payer health care for ALL, right here, right now.

Social and economic conditions have set the scene for reconciling the problems which Oregonians must resolve. As unemployment and underemployment continue to linger, as preventable diseases increase, as people prematurely and needlessly die, as death rates rise, and birth rates decline, our health and hope slowly dwindle. In addition, we are seeing a rise in loss of property through bankruptcy filings due to increased medical costs and joblessness, which render inadequate shelter. These results are indicative of lack of health care coverage and the means by which we reimburse our health care professionals and providers.

The 2010 federal Affordable Care Act has raised the curtain, revealing opportunities for our state and our political actors to develop the courage to engage in bold steps, using common sense ideas and solutions to protect the general public welfare. Whereas the Governor’s decision to implement measures such as the Healthcare Transformation Reform Act, realized through the Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), and the Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange is indeed noble, the outcome is predictable. The purpose of this noble effort is to provide for expanded, affordable and better health care services at lower costs. However, historical evidence shows that provisions based on these objectives have not reached fruition, leaving hundreds of thousands of families, including children and individuals, without adequate health care coverage, treatment, and affordable services.

For this reason, Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO), a not-for-profit grassroots mobilization effort, has coalesced with more than 60 other statewide organizations to advocate for a universal and publicly funded health care reimbursement system—a statewide financial system designed to accommodate and meet the needs of all Oregonians, reflecting HCAO’s mantra, “Everybody In, and Nobody Out!”

Perhaps the real question that “We the People”, including our elected officials, should be asking is what long-term consequences are most relevant to developing, maintaining, and sustaining a wholesome social and economic environment? To address this question in an effective and efficient manner requires pragmatism and knowledge of the negative effects on our current and future socio-economic surroundings. We must consider the long-term status of the health and wealth both of our state and of its people. Given these considerations, we must anticipate the potential impacts of a quality life of health, wealth, and worth versus a social life of luxury, privilege, and greed, designed to benefit the few anarchistic and plutocratic-minded among us. The remaining 99% would suffer contagious diseases and deadly outcomes, thereby destroying the democracy and economic stability of our regional existence.

Addressing these concerns would allow us the guidance needed to devise best financial strategies to alleviate increased health care costs. The benefits of this financial intervention would be manifested in the reduction or elimination of health care inequities, disparities, and cost-sharing on behalf of all resident Oregonians. The focus then becomes who will be the intended primary beneficiaries of this outcome. Evidence shows that society will prosper economically and socially by repairing our current health care systems to meet all the needs of its stakeholders. No matter how radical this financial concept or political process may seem, or how unlikely that it will be embraced, the outcome will serve to benefit the public good.

Hence, our focus should be directed toward the outcomes as well as the means. As with all political processes, inclusive of policy proposals, missions and visions, it is vital to keep these provisions in mind. “We the People” will always experience the intended and unintended, the expected and unexpected ramifications of our goals. However, we should not allow the unforeseen outcomes to stop us from undertaking, and overcoming this huge challenge in changing how health care services are financed. To succeed in our purpose to activate health care for all, we must become that mega-voice for HCAO’s mantra, “Everybody In, and Nobody Out!”

Why universal health care now, you may ask. The answers lie with a critical assessment of our current fractured health care payment system and with the political will of our elected officials. We must hold them accountable to represent the people’s business by demonstrating effective stewardship in policy development and by setting the political agenda so as to preserve the democratic process. In so doing, we will have planted the seed of urgency for cultivation and harvest in recognizing that the time is right and the time is now to accomplish health care for all.

No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come. ~ Victor Hugo

Glendora Claybrooks describes herself as a small-town country girl of Native and African heritage who was born on a plantation in Blytheville Arkansas.

“As a young girl growing up,” she says, “I endured social injustices; school segregation, inadequate health care services, and racial discrimination. But I listened to, and read about courageous individuals fighting for my Civil Rights and recognized later that these issues would always be at the human root of our ongoing plights.”

Claybrooks moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1995, and achieved education in Community Health, Health Sciences, Grant Writing and Nonprofits, Civics, Health Administration and Public Management.

“During the course of my tedious life journey, I have finally found that physical place and that human heart which led me into the life of civics and politics, and it is here that I was reborn. Hence, I have been on my way since conception and today, I have finally arrived.”

Glendora Claybrooks, MHA, GCPM

Glendora Claybrooks, MHA, GCPM