Oregon Rural Action, a La Grande-based nonprofit organization, is helping launch a statewide campaign to make publicly funded health care available to all Oregonians.

The organization is asking the La Grande City Council and the Union County Board of Commissioners to endorse the campaign by passing a health care resolution it has submitted to both. The resolution calls for the Legislature to refer to voters a measure creating “an equitable, comprehensive, affordable, high-quality, publicly funded health care system serving everyone in Oregon.”

The resolution asks for work on the health care plan to be done by the Legislature in 2019.

“We hope that this can be put on the ballot in 2020,” said Bill Whitaker of La Grande, a member of the Oregon Rural Action Health Care Reform Action Team.

ORA is a member of Health Care for All-Oregon, a coalition of 120 Oregon organizations aiming to bring universal, publicly funded health care to Oregon. Members include unions, businesses, faith-based organizations and community groups.

Whitaker said it is his hope that a plan can be developed to reach beyond Oregon.

“We hope that ultimately it can become something that would cover the entire country,” Whitaker said.

The Legislature will not be starting from scratch. It has taken steps in previous sessions to develop a publicly funded health care plan.

“The Legislature has already done a lot of work,” Whitaker said.

Two hundred and fifty people have signed a petition addressed to the La Grande City Council and the Union County Board of Commissioners asking that they support the Health Care for All-Oregon resolution. All of those signing the petition are Union County residents, and the majority are from La Grande.

The resolution may be discussed at January meetings of the La Grande City Council and the Union County Commissioners, Whitaker said.

Union County Commissioner Steve McClure said the resolution will be examined closely.

“We will give it serious consideration,” McClure said.

For the complete story, see the Jan. 1, edition of The Observer.