A Doctor in the House

By Dr. Sharon Meieran of Portland, Oregon. Sharon is a Portland Adventist emergency room physician running for State Representative in HD 36. Sharon is endorsed by Governor John Kitzhaber, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, the Oregon State Council for Senior and Retired Citizens, Oregon Small Business for Responsible Leadership, and PPS Board members Bobbie Regan and Ruth Adkins. Learn more about Sharon below and at SharonForOregon.com.

Working as an emergency physician with a largely underserved and often uninsured patient population, I confront the problems in our system of health care delivery every day.

I care for women who suffer the devastating consequences of not having access to reproductive health and family planning services; I see individuals who cannot afford to take time off work or will lose their jobs if they take time off during the day; I see situations where individuals have had to quit their jobs to care for aging family members; I see people at the end stages of preventable diseases because they could not afford to see a doctor when their condition was treatable; and every day I see patients suffering from untreated mental illness, addictions and homelessness. I see how we spend so much of our resources on our ERs, when we should be investing in appropriate prevention and management at the front end. In short, I work on the front line of a health care system in crisis, and this is what compels me to run for public office.

I believe that access to quality, affordable health care should be a basic, fundamental human right. I firmly believe in universal health care. Working from that assumption, the question becomes: How do we provide care and improve health in a way that is equitable, affordable and accessible?

Governor Kitzhaber's recently passed Healthcare Transformation Bill has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians right now. The implementation of Community Care Organizations (CCOs) will be a big step toward coordinating care, routine care, preventive care, chronic medical care and mental health services. The goal is to avoid the numerous medical catastrophes that lead to unnecessary ER visits, unnecessary hospitalizations, unnecessary suffering to patients and their families, and unnecessary costs which get passed on to us all one way or another, whether through taxes or insurance premiums.

Once again, the nation is watching Oregon as a leader in health care reform. But as always, the devil will be in the details. We need well-informed people who understand medical, mental health and substance abuse issues, practitioners with real world experience. We need people who understand the financing of health care, from micro level of the individual, to the macro level of using our tax dollars wisely. And finally, we need people who understand the legislative and executive processes required to get things done. I bring those necessary skills.

I am running for State Representative because what I see in the ER every day compels me to act for women's reproductive health, for our seniors, for those with mental illness, for those who are homeless, for those who work hard in their small business or at their job and cannot afford coverage. We have eleven lawyers in the House of Representatives (nothing against lawyers, I am one). But we do not have a single front line health care provider, when health care reform, and doing it right, is one of the most crucial issues facing Oregon. I believe we need a Doctor in the House.

Sharon Meieran started her career as an attorney, but after seven years realized that her true calling was to be a physician. Dr. Meieran is President of the Oregon College of Emergency Physicians, a member of the Oregon Medical Association Legislative Committee, and an outspoken advocate of programs to stem the public health crisis of prescription opiate abuse. In addition to her work in the ER, Sharon has served as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and is co-president of the PTA at Rieke Elementary where her children go to school.

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    It is hard for me to see how anyone could run for this office without having the first hand knowlege of our health care system. Oregonians are at a turning point for major changes that will have long term consequences. Thank you for your dedication!

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    We currently have no doctor in the Oregon House although we do have the wonderful Mitch Greenlick who is a public health professional. We only have one businessman in the Democratic caucus, Chris Harker. I think we still have a teacher, but I cannot remember who. Yet, the top three priorities are health, education, and the economy. We need an MD in the caucus so that the lobbyists cannot get away with pushing their positions because the legislators don't have their own in house medical adviser. It is telling that Governor Kitzhaber, also an emergency room physician, is endorsing Sharon. We have enough attorneys.

    As a resident of this district I am also pleased that Sharon is involved in the local school as a parent and as co-president of the PTA. The combination of experience and talent she brings is why I fully support her.

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    I'm incredibly impressed by Sharon's experience as an ER doc helping people who have untreated mental illness, addictions, and/or are homeless. It's not just about having a doctor in the House-- it's about having someone who cares deeply about the least fortunate among us.

    I have had many conversations with Sharon over the past few months and I think she's great!

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    I believe that access to quality, affordable health care should be a basic, fundamental human right.

    So did the US many years ago.

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948

    Article 25.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection

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    Sharon, You give me hope that with your expertise you can truly effectuate change. Thank you!

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    It is encouraging that Dr. Meieran endorses both universal health care and the healthcare transformation bill. We should appreciate, however, these are independent concepts.

    Universal health care requires a financing mechanism to enable every Oregonian to get the health care they need when they need it without regard for income, sickness, age, or employment.

    In contrast, the healthcare transformation bill is a delivery system which promises to improve care and reduce costs only for the 15% of Oregonians in the Oregon Health Plan.

    This bill does nothing for the 85% of Oregonians still attempting to get health care through private health insurance. In fact, as more Oregonians find themselves uninsurable by private insurance because they are too sick, too poor, or unemployed, they will be forced to find care in OHP. This process, called “adverse selection,” will swell the OHP with our sickest, poorest, and most expensive patients.

    Adverse selection caused the failure of every similar plan in every other state attempting this format. Unless Oregon addresses the lack of health care access for the 85% of Oregonians outside the OHP, the failure of the OHP is guaranteed and our spiral into medical catastrophe will proceed even faster.

    Advocating universal health care is a first step toward real reform. The next step is advocating a financing system that allows unimpeded access to health care for every Oregonian regardless of health, wealth, age, or job status. Will Sharon take this next step?

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    All four voters in our nuclear family have cast their ballots for Sharon.

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