The Observer editorial "Small steps better in Oregon's single-payer plan" was a frustrating read for me. I disagree that small steps would be smarter. I, and hundreds of others, have been working to bring universal, publicly funded health care to Oregon for more than a decade. With the Task Force on Universal Health Care in place, now is the time for action.

Physicians led efforts for universal health care in Oregon. In 2009 “Mad as Hell Doctors” traveled 6,000 miles through America’s heartland from Portland to Washington, D.C., stopping at 40-plus venues in 17 states. The late Bill Whitaker coordinated tour logistics. I joined him for the last half of the tour. The more than 40 community town halls were eye opening. Long lines of people stood waiting for their "minute at the microphone" to share how lack of access to health care was affecting them and their families. Unnecessary escalating illness, loss of employment and death were common stories. Staying in bad relationships to keep health insurance was life for many women. Stopping medical care so the family home would not be sold to pay for the next round of treatment was heartbreaking in 2009 and still happening in 2021. Add to this the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s time for unmet health care needs to change.

People want health care coverage for all. According to a fall 2020 CBS News poll, 56% of Americans think providing access to affordable health care coverage for all Americans is the responsibility of the federal government, and two-thirds favor the creation of a national, government-administered health insurance plan similar to Medicare that would be available to all Americans.

You can be part of this movement. Check out Health Care for All-Action for more information about making Oregon one of the first states to bring equitable, affordable, comprehensive, high-quality, publicly funded health care to everyone in Oregon and the United States ( Contact me at and connect to Eastern Oregon efforts.

Cheryl Simpson

La Grande

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