Oregon Health Equity Alliance Legislative Kick-off

Report by Lee Mercer, President Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO)
December 2, 2014

A number of HCAO members attended, and some tabled, at the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) Legislative Kick-Off at the Augustana Lutheran Church (an HCAO member organization) in NE Portland, Monday, December 1. Among those attending were Robin Cash, Maria Grumm, Nancy Sullivan, Chris Lowe, Hyung Nam, Sandra Hernandes and organizer Ross Lampert. A large crowd was entertained by the Agustana Jazz Band, kicking off and culminating the event. A diverse group of activists was greeted by Pastor Mark Knutson, who introduced Francisco Aguirre, given sanctuary by and living at the church as he fights deportation.

Alberto Moreno of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition MC’d talks by OHEA leaders and activists on the history of their organization and their current legislative agenda. Kayse Jama (Center for Intercultural Organizing), Darlene Huntress (Oregon Action) and Andrea Miller (Causa Oregon) outlined the growth of OHEA from its roots as the People of Color Health Equity Collaborative to a vibrant coalition of 33 organizations currently. This included their numerous legislative victories in the 2013 session.

The 2015 legislative agenda was outlined by spokespersons from organizations taking the lead on each issue:

  1. Health Care for All Children (Linda Roman, Oregon Latino Health Coalition)

  2. Basic Health Plan (Kathy Wai, Apano and John Mullin, Oregon Law Center).

  3. Comprehensive Women’s Health (Aimee Santos, BRAVE)

  4. Earned Sick Leave (Andrea Paluso, Family Forward Oregon)

  5. Junk Food Marketing in Schools (Kasandra Griffin, Upstream Public Health)

  6. Ban the Box (Midge Purcell, Urban League)

  7. End Profiling (Salome Chimuku, Center for Intercultural Organizing

The event was attended by Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Senator Michael Dembrow, Representatives Allyssa Keny-Guyer and Julie Parrish and staff members of Rep. Lew Fredericks and Sen. Chip Shields, who spoke on their interest in or support for the various policy proposals.

To weigh in with the HCAO Legislative Review Team on elements of the OHEA agenda on which our coalition should engage, or for more information, e-mail Lee Mercer.