By Katie Gauthier of Portland, Oregon. Katie is the policy and communications director for Oregonians for Health Security. Previously, she contributed 600,000 Oregonians without health care and Health care cuts threaten Oregonians.
What happens when the legislature fails to act?
The people take to the streets to enact their own solutions. That is just what has happened this year with health care. During the 2005 legislative session a myriad of reform legislation was proposed, many passed the Democratically-controlled Senate, but were ultimately killed by the Republican House leadership.
The legislature’s indifference to the skyrocketing cost of health care has created the present situation. Instead of working through the legislative process, frustrated petitioners have proposed ballot measures taken directly to the people. Ironically many of them are legislators who were unable to have their concerns addressed during the session. Our representative form of democracy’s failure to address health care is a further indication that the current leadership in Salem does not represent the values of Oregonians. They are not solving the issues that matter to working families or small businesses- like reducing the cost of health care.
Instead of addressing difficult policy decisions through the legislative process, we are left with an initiative process. Currently, seven proposed ballot measures and many reform ideas would address the health care crisis. They include measures aimed at reducing cost, increasing access and ensuring accountability- just like during the legislative session. None of this would be necessary, if we only had a legislature that would do its job.
Four of the seven initiatives are racing toward the July 7 deadline to gather signatures. The initiatives cover everything from expanding Oregon’s unique Prescription Purchasing Pool to making health care a right and increasing staffing at nursing homes.
Health care will be a defining issue in the 2006 election. With multiple measures likely on the November ballot, candidates will be forced to address this issue on the campaign trail. Voters expect a plan to reduce costs and will hold elected officials accountable for their indifference toward the health care crisis in 2005.
To learn about the measures, share your own experiences and ideas for health care reform join us at the Portland Health Care Forum Tuesday, June 13 from 7-9 PM at the St. Andrew’s Catholic Church (806 NE Alberta). The Portland Forum is sponsored by Oregonians for Health Security, Oregon Action and Jobs with Justice. This is a part of the series of health care forums Oregonians for Health Security and our allies have been holding across the state.
Presenters at the forum will include: Morgan Allen with Initiative 105, safe staffing levels for nursing homes; Dr. Evan Saulino with Initiative 111, the Healthy Oregon Plan; Senator Bill Morrisette with Initiative 122, expanding the Oregon Prescription Drug Purchasing Pool; Senator Ben Westlund with Initiative 40 making health care a right and Initiative 143, funding health care for all children; CJ Grimes with the Make Health Care Work Coalition; and Liz Baxter with the Archimedes Movement... As well as, speakers from Initiatives 148, to reform the insurance industry and Initiative 149 requiring large employers to provide health insurance.
Information about each proposed health care ballot measure and a detailed schedule of forums is available at www.OregoniansForHealthSecurity.org or by contacting Oregonians for Health Security at 503-655-2793.
If you plan to vote like your health depends on it - join us for the forum on the 13th.