President's Report: State of HCAO

President's Report: State of Health Care for All-Oregon

As HCAO's Membership Meeting opened on Nov. 12, I addressed those assembled with the following comments.

Good morning and welcome to Corvallis! My name is Tim Roach. I'm THE Gerald Ford of HCAO! In other words, I'm the President YOU never voted for!

I realize--all too well--the chaos, anxiety, hostility, the deep sadness and frustration that have been created by the turn of events from earlier this week in our country. Lives have literally been turned upside down! Sources of well-being and health have been/are now threatened. Institutions that have been experienced as protective are now viewed as the locus of potential threat. And futures that had seemed to be secure now are faced with who-knows-what!

If the Affordable Care Act is dismantled--as President-elect Trump has promised to quickly accomplish after he takes office--it is unclear, at this point, precisely how our nation's health care system might be reconfigured. Indeed, we could ask--and rightly so--will the state waiver (section 1332 of the ACA) even continue to be available as a building block for our planning and strategy? The truth is, today, we don't really know.

On the other hand, some have theorized that the collapse of the ACA may turn out to be an opportunity--an opportunity for the implementation of a public option or even an opportunity for the implementation of a single-payer system. Who knows?

At the very least, what can be accurately and truthfully stated is that much of our concern and hope as Health Care for ALL–Oregon, especially when it comes to legislative items and time lines, has become clouded with uncertainty. But our HCAO Legislative Committee is already at work, having met just yesterday, to re-examine the context and climate of our labors and to begin charting a course for us appropriate for these new days before us.

As distressing as the news might be for us on the national front, the passage of Health Care Ballot Measures in Ashland and here in Corvallis by substantial margins, along with the supportive resolution recently adopted by the Portland City Council, provide affirmation that our work is NOT in vain! There is still a significant body of support within the populace that shares our vision of a publicly funded health care system providing everyone with the care they need when they need it!

So while some folks may be tempted to roll over and pull the covers over their heads, in light of recent events you and I should NOT be among those who simply decide to pack it in and stay in bed. In fact, I don't think we are those kind of folks!

After all, look around--you and I are HERE today! In the face of so much chaos and calamity and uncertainty circling around the future of health care in our country, you and I are here today! And we are here NOT because we have all the answers in our pocket to soothe and calm the chaos that churns around health care in our country. No, we don't claim, at this moment, to have everything figured out or resolved. No, we are HERE because we are bold enough, strong enough, committed enough, and active enough to stay focused on our vision/mission to see that everyone in Oregon--and ultimately in our nation--has the health care they need when they need it.

Today, as we meet while acknowledging these current realities, we'll also be learning more of what we have been up to as a movement, furthering the cause of Health Care for ALL in Oregon. We'll have some time to reflect with others working in sync with our cause. And we'll carefully consider the opportunities that are before each of us to move the ball down the field to bring us across that goal line that is Health Care for Everyone!

In a substantial portion of our day today, we'll be considering the Operational Plan the HCAO Board has structured. Each of us will have the opportunity to be enlightened about the Plan and to step forward and indicate the particular places/specific ways we can each help fortify our movement and bring us the fulfillment of our ultimate goal.

It is my own personal feeling that, while the political/legislative environment has changed, drastically so, even, the basic thrust of our Operational Plan continues to be relevant.

In my opinion, what you and I need to continue to be doing, with renewed vigor, is building a greater awareness among the populace of the publicly funded option for universal health care and educating and re-educating the general public about the particular aspects and benefits of a Health Care for All system.  

I agree fully with Don McCanne, reflecting on the events of this past week in California and Colorado, who posited:
“The lesson is that, to be successful, a comprehensive state health reform ballot measure requires a massive education effort over a period of years, if you expect to gain support of a sufficient portion of the electorate, and that has NEVER been accomplished. People not only have to understand it, they have to want it. If you find that you have to keep explaining what your proposal is, you haven’t done enough, and your opponents can and will destroy your efforts with a few sound bites.”

In other words, our movement-building, educational emphasis, fundraising, and cultivating of legislative leadership still need our firm and focused attention.

Having said all that, let me say to you now that I am hopeful, as I stand before you today. I am hopeful in the face of all that has, in my opinion, gone wrong over the past few days. I am hopeful that the hurts, anxieties and fears of those traumatized by the political earthquake of this past week will soon have healing, concern, and calm restored to their lives. I am hopeful that the political woes of these current days will soon be reversed and righted.

I am hopeful because YOU and I are here, because we are bold enough, strong enough, committed enough, and active enough to stay focused on our vision/mission that one day, soon, folks in Oregon and throughout our nation—EVERYONE--will have the health care they need when they need it.

Thank you for being HERE today and thank you for keeping on keeping on, in the calling that is ours together.
--Tim Roach, HCAO Board President