Report by Roberta Hall
Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates (MVHCA) has sponsored forums for state candidates concerning health issues for some years. This year on Sept. 25, all candidates for three House districts, 16 (Corvallis area), 23 (the rural, rather vertical district west of Philomath and north and south of it, including a small slice of North Corvallis), and 15 (Albany area) were invited. MVHCA President Bud Laurent and Vice-President Nadine Grzeskowiak ran the meeting, which included questions concerning positions on several key health issues asked of all candidates, and questions posed by the audience for one or more candidates. The candidates included one Libertarian (district 16) and one Green (district 23), who with several Democrats and Republicans offered a wide spectrum of policies.The incumbent (Olson) from Albany did not attend but incumbents Thompson (23) and Gelser (16) did.
Questions concerning the move toward publicly funded universal coverage were raised. and several candidates responded YES when asked if they view health care as a human right. But when asked about working for a system in the state to provide it, Gelser declared it is not feasible; Thompson (a member of ALEC) urged that change of the system needs to be slow (the word he used repeatedly was incremental, but clearly he meant slow).
These were the incumbents. Others, such as Alex Polikoff (a Pacific Green in district 23) and Ron Green (Democrat in district 16) appeared more positive. Ron Green noted several times that he receives care through the VA, a single payer system that works well for him. MVHCA believes that by bringing up the question of health care as a human right and suggesting that it is a relevant issue, plus continual pressure to move the question of universal coverage further along, could get these representatives to the point that they will act on the behalf of the public.