Francisca Benitez

The Oregon Rural Action Health Care Reform Action Team will host a screening of the documentary “Big Money Agenda: Democracy on the Brink” beginning at 6:30 p.m. April 18 at Cook Memorial Library. The event is open to the public, and there will be a panel of speakers after the screening.

Panelists will include Kristin Ostrom, president of the local ORA Blue Mountain Chapter, as well as La Grande Mayor Steve Clements, La Grande City Councillor Jim Whitbeck and ORA board member Kathy Pfister-Minogue.

ORA is a non-partisan group “working to promote social justice, agricultural and economic sustainability, and stewardship of the region’s land, air and water,” according to

The Blue Mountain Chapter was founded in 2001 and, according to board member Bill Whitaker, currently has four action groups: health care, energy, food and agriculture, and social justice.

The documentary explores the effects of money in politics. Pfister-Minogue said the documentary aligns with the ORA Health Care Reform Action Team’s goal of achieving universal health care.

“If you look at how our legislators are funded for election campaigns, they get huge amounts of money from pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies,” she said.

Pfister-Minogue also said politicians who take money from pharmaceutical or insurance companies are biased in their favor, rather than the favor of people who can’t afford medicine or care.

Grande Ronde Hospital’s 2018 Union County Community Health Assessment, which is still in draft form, reported the top reason for being uninsured in Union County is the inability to pay the premiums or cost. Among people who did not get prescriptions filled, the survey found 39 percent said the medicine was too expensive, and 15 percent said they stretched the prescription by taking less than recommended to offset the cost of the medication.

Pfister-Minogue is a nurse practitioner, and she said stretching medication can be dangerous. She explained why she personally supports universal health care: “It’s the right thing to do. It’s a moral imperative.”

See complete story in Monday's Observer