Letters to the editor for May 22, 2013

By Observer Upload May 22, 2013 09:48 am
Letters to the editor for May 22, 2013

Concerned about access to health care

To the Editor:

Building healthy vibrant communities, counties and state is a non-partisan issue.  It is a mistake to associate concern about access to health care with one political party or the other — it is a human issue that matters to people everywhere. 

For two hours on May 13, the Oregon House Health Committee listened to people share their stories related to HB 2922, the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Plan Act. In panels of three people each, the two hours were filled with three- to four-minute stories. Heart-wrenching tales were shared about friends and loved ones who suffered catastrophic medical emergencies because they had no access to preventative care. Others worried about how to cover the cost of health insurance between the age of 60, when they retired, and 65 when they would be eligible for Medicare.

Small-business owners told about being unable to provide health insurance for their employees, and in some cases for their families.  Physicians and nurses described how terrible it was to see people hospitalized when early treatment in a clinic would have been sufficient.  Others talked about filing bankruptcy. All speakers but three supported HB 2922 saying everyone in Oregon needed health care.

In addition to the 30 or more people giving testimony, every seat in the hearing room was filled. People gathered around the monitor in the hallway of the Capitol. People everywhere were wearing shirts declaring “Health Care for All Oregon.” There were no buttons or banners declaring one political party or another — this is not a partisan issue.

Postscript: May 14 found me in a physician’s office. The woman updating my records asked why I was in Portland — health care reform, I said.  Then she shared her story. Her husband is unemployed without health insurance.  A trip to the emergency room left them with a $15,000 hospital bill. She asked me: “What am I supposed to do with that bill?” Almost under her breath she said, “We might have to go bankrupt.”

Cheryl Simpson-Whitaker

La Grande