by NATHAN BRUTTELL
Corvallis Gazette-Times July 19, 2015
Health care for everyone. Health care for all.
Those were the chants that rang out from more than a dozen local health care reform advocates Saturday morning at the Corvallis Farmers Market. The dozen advocates marched along the riverfront before stopping near a decorative birthday cake celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare, the federal insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans. But the Saturday event morphed from a celebration into a call to action for universal health care.
“We all know someone who hasn’t gotten the treatment they needed because of the costs. We’re all one banana peel away from being in that high-risk pool ourselves,” said co-organizer Dr. Mike Huntington, retired after 22 years as Cancer Center director at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. “Every day for more than 20 years I would see people come in with advanced cancers during a time when detection methods were getting better and better. It doesn’t make sense until you understand what was happening to them. They couldn’t afford insurance or a doctor’s visit.”
Huntington said that dozens of patients would wait months or years until their cancers advanced to crisis stages or they would refuse treatment altogether. But not because of pride, he said, because they couldn’t afford treatment and support their families at the same time.
“It was the fear of what it would cost,” Huntington said. “It was the overwhelming idea that they could lose their homes because of hospital bills. Or they didn’t want their families to go without, or go into debt because of the hospital bills. They refused treatment because they needed the money for housing or food.”