New Coalition to Advocate for Universal Health Care in Oregon


“Oregon’s current health care system is neither humane nor cost-effective.”

(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Delegates from 28 unions, nonprofits and grassroots organizations gathered in Portland on Friday, January 27, to form a new coalition that will advocate for universal health care in Oregon and the U.S. Seven labor unions joined with 21 community organizations to sign the membership agreement, approve bylaws, and elect an interim executive committee.

The coalition grew out of a partnership between four organizations–Health Care for All–Oregon, Portland Jobs With Justice, Mad As Hell Doctors (MAHD) and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). Two years ago these organizations formed the Oregon Single Payer Campaign (OSPC), which last year organized a conference at the First Unitarian Church in Portland attended by 500 people. OSPC also spearheaded the introduction of HB 3510 last year in the Oregon legislature by Rep. Michael Dembrow (D-HD 45). HB 3510 would create a single-payer financing system that guaranteed universal access to health care for all Oregonians, including the more than 600,000 Oregonians who do not have health insurance. Rep. Dembrow was in attendance at the founding meeting of the coalition.

The goal of OSPC was to get the issue of universal access health care on the table, since its advocates had been shut out of the federal health care reform debate,” said Michael Moore, delegate from Sisters of the Road and newly elected interim president of the coalition. “The goal of the new coalition is to engage all communities across Oregon in a conversation about what we can and should expect from our health care system. We think providing universal access, as almost all other industrialized nations do, is the only truly humane and cost-effective system available. We need a broad and diverse coalition of organizations to help us understand how to take that message to all the constituencies we need to reach.

Oregon’s current health care system is neither humane nor cost-effective. The only health care resources available to many uninsured adults are hospital emergency rooms and pay-for-service options at some clinics. Even in communities such as Scappoose, only 21 miles from Portland, the Oregon Health Sciences University clinic does not accept uninsured patients. In Oregon, it is estimated that the cost of uncompensated care for uninsured and under-insured adults and children will exceed $1.1 billion in 2012.

Rosalie Pedroza, delegate from the Rural Organizing Project, said, “In rural communities, many areas don’t have insurance options, and facilities are limited. Current cost increases are unsustainable; we need affordable health care for all.”

The unions signing on to the coalition’s founding are: American Federation of Government Employees Local 2157, Communication Workers of America Local 7901, Laborers Local 483, National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82, National Association of Social Workers ­ Oregon, Oregon Nurses’ Association and Service Employees International Union Local 49. The nonprofits joining them are: Alliance for Democracy, Center for Inter-cultural Organizing, Community Alliance of Tenants, Elders in Action, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Health Care for All Oregon, Health Care for All Oregon–Eugene, Jobs with Justice-Central Oregon, Jobs with Justice–Portland, Jobs with Justice–Southern Oregon, Mad as Hell Doctors, Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates, Oregon Action, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, OSPC-Florence Organizing Committee, Physicians for a National Health Program–Eugene, Mid Valley and Portland, Rural Organizing Project, Sisters of the Road. The Tree Institute, and Universal Health Care for Oregon. Six affiliated or pledged organizations were unable to attend, and ten organizations sent delegates as observers.

The coalition does not plan to introduce legislation this year. In the near term, it will focus on grassroots community organizing and outreach. It plans to meet again in six to eight weeks to elect a full board of directors, develop a strategic plan and finalize the selection of a name.


  1. ILONA ANDERSON on February 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I believe that all states need to take the lead and provide Single Payer Universal Heathcare within their states, with emphasis on Prevention education. This will keep costs down and wellness up for all citizens and legal residents. Non-citizens and visitors will pay for private insurance to cover them. This is how it’s done in the best western countries, with great success. Time for us to take action for our healthcare.

  2. JJ on February 10, 2012 at 2:40 am

    The term “univesal” needs to be eliminated, or always qualified, lest it be taken as meaning that everyone (universally) be forced in one way or another into being a “customer” of private insurers.
    Even low income people, below level of income that’s mandated to purchase private insurance, will have their services provided by private insurers, though tax-paid by every tax-payer in the country.

    It has to be Private=Insurance-Industry-Free Universal Insurance. to just say “universal” by itself is Way Too Incomplete, and invariably misinforming to many.

  3. JJ on February 10, 2012 at 2:40 am

    The term “universal” needs to be eliminated, or always qualified, lest it be taken as meaning that everyone (universally) be forced in one way or another into being a “customer” of private insurers.
    Even low income people, below level of income that’s mandated to purchase private insurance, will have their services provided by private insurers, though tax-paid by every tax-payer in the country.

    It has to be Private=Insurance-Industry-Free Universal Insurance. to just say “universal” by itself is Way Too Incomplete, and invariably misinforming to many.

  4. Sallie Park on February 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    What we need, in my opinion, is Medicare For All. First – everyone is familiar with this and most support it. Second, this keeps the for-profit insurance industry out of the picture, at least for good basic health care, and results in lower costs. My theory is, if everyone contributed to Medicare, based on their income level, most people/families would pay less than they currently pay to the for-profits. The question is: How much would each income level have to pay in order to make Medicare For All self-supporting? I believe that for most income levels, they would pay LESS than they currently pay as premiums to the for-profits. My problem is: I haven’t been able to get an answer to this question (to confirm my thesis). Can anyone help me with this?

  5. Heidi. on February 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    How do ya’ll plan to pay for this “Universal Healthcare”??? Taxes? true, because half of you probably don’t even pay income tax…

    We are 15 TRILLION dollars in debt, people. there is NO money to support all the Technology, all the Medication, all the doctors, and the hospitals for everyone in all America to have free health care…. Free, has a price…

  6. Luke on May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I am an Australian and I am the product of a universal healthcare nation. My brother is 19 years old and if not for a government run healthcare he would have been dead 5 years ago.

    Back in 2007 my brother started seeing double and having headaches. My parents beliving that he needed glasses booked an appointment for an optometrist for the same day(paid for by the Australian Government’s Medicare). He attended the optometrist who noticed a problem and immediately referred to an Opthamologist (paid for by the Australian Govenment’s Medicare) who sent him for a CT scan (paid for by the Australian Government’s Medicare. The CT scan identified a brain tumour that was impacting on his optic nerve. The Opthamologist then referred my brother to a Children’s Hospital in Sydney where he was admitted and, had an MRI and was assigned a Neurologist (all paid for by the Australian Government’s Medicare).

    My brother spent two weeks in hospital, required surgery, required several MRI’s and CT Scans, required three days of intensive care, six weeks of Radiotherapy and was assessed by Occupational Therapists, Neurologists, Social Workers, Radiotherapists,Pathologists and Opthamologists. Furthermore he recieves MRI check ups every six months as well as consultations with Neurologists and Encrinologists. The total cost of my brother’s care to us was $0.

    Opponents of universal government run health care always mention it’s inefficency, it’s cost, supposed waiting lists and government control. For those who feel this way I warn you never to make these statements to my younger brother who is now training to be a Registered Nurse and become part of a system that looks more towards helping everybody rather than those with the cash to pay for it.

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