Oregon state senators push for universal health care

Oregon state senators are working on passing a bill to provide universal health care for Oregonians. Amidst the controversial efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, state legislators are moving forward to create a more comprehensive healthcare reform package that will provide healthcare to all Oregon residents.

The bills being pushed by the GOP in Congress to repeal-and-replace Obamacare would result in 16 to 32 million Americans losing their insurance, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. A study done by Wallethub claims that Oregon would be the fifth most affected state by the repeal of the ACA, taking into consideration the number of people who would lose insurance, the number of jobs that would be lost and the overall economic impact on the state.

In spite of the threat that repeal and replace legislation poses to Oregon’s healthcare system, Oregon State Senator James Manning, among a handful of other state legislators, is sponsoring Bill 1046 to provide universal healthcare in the state.  

When asked about the bill by the Eugene Weekly, Manning responded “[It’s] a good bill to for us to move forward on, we can certainly make it better, but we have to make a move on it because the uncertainty that’s going on in Washington D.C. has me really concerned.”

The bill is gaining traction from both sides of the political spectrum, with grassroots support growing in many traditionally Republican-leaning districts in the state. Healthcare reform in the state is being pushed by many different non-profits, including Health Care for All Oregonians (HCAO), a coalition of over 120 organizations and more than 20,000 health care advocates and practitioners dedicated to achieving universal health care across the state.

The money needed to implement the bill would be appropriated from Oregon’s General Fund and revenue would be generated by an additional income tax, as well as a new employer payroll tax. The income tax would only be implemented on those 150 to 200 percent above the poverty level. The bill aims to cover anyone working full-time in Oregon, their dependents, and students enrolled in public colleges or universities.

According to a report by the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, the U.S. is one of only three countries in the top 25 GDP-per-capita nations that does not provide universal health care to its citizens.

The Eugene branch of Health Care for All Oregonians meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the United Methodist Church on 13th and Olive St. More information about the bill can be found on the Oregon State Legislature website.