Medicare Birthday

Imagine Medicare for All

This was the theme of the Medicare 48th birthday celebration in Corvallis, July 30. Sponsored by Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates (MVHCA) and the Corvallis chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, the event featured talks by local and national leaders, the What the Health! game developed by the outreach committee of MVHCA, a chat room, a writers wall, information tables staffed by MVHCA and members of Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA), birthday cupcakes, and music provided by well-known local bands. The Raging Grannies sang a few songs to warm up the event at 4:40, the Mark Weiss Trio performed from 5:00 to 6:00, and Gumbo performed from 6:30 to 7:30, following the podium talks from 6:00 to 6:30.

Staged at the Corvallis Waterfront Park, at First Street and Monroe Avenue, from 4:30 to 7:30, the event was blessed with excellent weather: sunshine and shade in the park, light winds, and temperatures in the low 80s. Nearby restaurants, Cloud & Kellys, Flat Tail Brewing, and Brew BQ offered special Medicare-Birthday box suppers so that people could eat while listening to presentations and music.

Ron Green, newly elected president of MVHCA, introduced speakers: Nancy Pierce, health care and senior issues aide to Rep. Peter DeFazio; Richard Hervey, president of the Corvallis City Council; Dr. David Grube and Dr. David Cutsforth, Benton County physicians; and Jan Thornton, a Corvallis self-employed business woman.

Nancy Pierce brought greetings from Rep. DeFazio and congratulated the audience for its work. She reminded them that there are people who are working “day and night on their behalf” and said that Rep. DeFazio would love to hear from people about their health care concerns and how policies are affecting them so that he and his staff can do what is right.  Corvallis city councilman and Council President Richard Hervey gave a two-part talk.  Speaking for City Council, he told how medical insurance has affected the city. Over a 10-year period between 2002 and 2012, its insurance costs for personnel increased from 3.5 million to 7.3 million dollars, with a fiscally based reduction of staff by 25.

Then, speaking as a private citizen, Hervey recognized Rep. DeFazio as an outstanding legislator, but he criticized the national Democratic Party for not taking advantage of past periods of Democratic majority leadership to enact universal health care, and suggested that people need to look outside the two-party system.

Drs. Grube and Cutsforth provided examples from their own families and medical practices of why the country needs Medicare to be extended to all people. Jan Thornton described the struggles that she and her husband, also self-employed, have had in obtaining health insurance coverage for her family.

The next educational event announced by MVHCA is a program on Cover Oregon, scheduled for Aug. 20 at the Benton County-Corvallis public library at Monroe and 7th Street, Corvallis. It will feature a talk by Liz Baxter, board chair of Cover Oregon, and other speakers focused on helping people understand what this Oregon insurance exchange will offer uninsured individuals and businesses. Another topic is a comparison of approaches by the two health insurance co-ops and traditional for-profit insurance companies.

Thanks to  Maegan Prentice for this video of the Birthday Party:
A KBOO.fm radio/internet program (Hall’s Health and Healthcare Forum) will provide detailed coverage of the talks.

--Roberta Hall, for MVHCA