Portland City Council passes Health Care for All Resolution
Report by Lee Mercer, Chair HCAO Mobilization Committee
The Portland City Council passed a Health Care for All-Oregon resolution brought forward by Commissioner Steve Novick (and thanks to the work of his policy staffer, Katie Novick) on Wednesday, October 19 after passionate testimony by HCAO health reform advocates and our legislative champion, Senator Michael Dembrow. With half the chamber filled with red “health care is a human right” t-shirts, the council heard from both scheduled speakers Dembrow, HCAO VP Ben Gerritz (also speaking for member organizations Cascade AIDS Project and SEIU) and Nancy Sullivan (Nurses for Single Payer).
Dembrow outlined the progress of the Oregon Health Authority study on how to finance universal health care in Oregon from the HB 3260 (2013) enabling legislation to HB 2828 (2015) state financing to the current work by the Rand Corporation to be completed in November. Ben Gerritz eloquently expressed the struggle clients of Cascade AIDS experience in getting affordable health care. Nancy Sullivan cited her many years as a midwife and poor health outcomes for mothers and infants in the U.S.
A number of speakers, both HCAO advocates including Mary Lou Hennrich, former Executive Director of Care Oregon, Chris Lowe (Physicians for Responsibility), Jim Robison, Barbara Council and Charles Johnson, as well as others with health care horror stories, rounded out the hearing. The full hearing can be seen here from 22:27 to 1:11:09. Click on Oct 19 AM Work Session.
Commissioner Novick concluded reiterating his personal support for universal health care access, telling a story of how he visited a homeless service center in Texas which was spending $4 million a year on health care which would have been unnecessary if Texas had done the Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Commissioner Fritz expressed her longtime support for universal health care, citing her UK background and her work as a nurse. And Mayor Hales praised the work of health care advocates in tenaciously fighting for their goal. “It’s the force of history,” he said. “The people have their say at the local level (on issues like marriage equality, economic justice and climate change); this turns into state policy and eventually becomes the law of the land.”
The resolution language passed unanimously. Read the Portland City Council resolution urging the legislature to create a transparent process to build a universal health care plan based on the Rand health care financing study.