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    Oregon Must Have the Courage to Lead on Universal Health Care

    By Jennifer Williamson of Portland, Oregon. Jennifer is an attorney running in the Democratic primary for HD 36 in West Portland. Jennifer is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and the Oregon Nurses Association. For more information, visit JenniferForOregon.com.

    We hear a lot about rising gas prices, high food prices and, increasingly in Portland, rents that are out of reach. These are critical issues on the minds of my neighbors. But there’s another concern that isn’t getting as much attention as it deserves these days.

    As I’ve knocked on doors over the last four months across House District 36, I continue to hear from voters that they’re worried about rising health care costs. Despite what the national Republican assault on Obamacare would have us believe, the truth is that access to quality care has declined for thousands of Oregonians and health care prices are out of control.

    It’s a story Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum don’t want you to hear. The facts for our citizens are disturbing:

    -Each year, 540 Oregonians die from treatable diseases because they could not afford needed health care.

    -Last year 34,000 Oregonians in 12,000 families endured personal bankruptcies caused by medical crises. Most of these people had health insurance when the medical condition began.

    Every Oregonian deserves health care. But even though Oregonians already spend more than enough to get that health care, too many of us are left out and our families suffer.

    There are health care systems around the world and even in our own country providing better care to more people for less money than we do here in Oregon.

    With the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act now under review by the Supreme Court, it’s more important than ever for Oregon to take the lead for its citizens. It’s time for Oregonians to once again be pioneers. It’s time for Oregon to learn from other countries and other states.

    If we apply successful lessons to a new statewide, publicly-funded health care system, we can ensure every one of our citizens has access to the care we need. The truth is we don’t have to spend more, we just need to spend smarter.

    Oregon is unique. And not everything that works in other systems will work here. But we know we can do better – much, much better.

    It takes courage to change an industry that is consuming nearly 20% of all the money spent in our state, and reform a system that is decades old. It takes courage to create a new health care system that provides for us and our families throughout our lifetimes. But Oregonians are courageous people.

    When I get to Salem, one of my top priorities in the State House will be to work for a publicly funded, publicly accountable universal health care system that will provide quality care for every Oregonian.

    I believe Oregon simply cannot afford to do anything less.

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