Sen. Michael Dembrow, the movement’s leader in the state Legislature, has reintroduced legislation to implement single-payer in Oregon. Broader support exists for a bill to provide state money to figure out how universal healthcare might work and be paid for in Oregon.
By Chris Gray
The Lund Report 2-12-15
Labor unions and religious organizations joined Health Care for All Oregon to shut down Court Street in front of the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, for what’s become a biennial rally in support of a state single-payer health insurance program to replace the patchwork system currently in use in Oregon.
“Healthcare is a human right! We shouldn’t have to beg for it,” said Fernando Gapasin, the state chairman of the United Auto Workers and National Writers Union. He said collective bargaining could be much more productive if workers and employers no longer had to haggle over whether employees could receive quality health insurance.
Single-payer activists have kept up their grassroots efforts, despite the national health reform law that reduced the number of uninsured people in Oregon to 5 percent of the population, a group largely composed of immigrants ineligible for the benefits of Obamacare.
“Basically the Affordable Care Act was a necessary step to get more people covered by healthcare in America, and get rid of practices like excluding people due to pre-existing health conditions,” said Lee Mercer, the president of Health Care for All Oregon and a leader of the Main Street Alliance, a liberal small-business group. “Until we get to a universal healthcare system, we will have a Swiss cheese system of coverage, high copayments and deductibles.”