Health Movement History

Oregon’s Universal Health Care Movement:
Where We Are Going

  • After Measure 23, the Oregon single payer bill, was rejected by the voters in 2002, the fledgling Eugene-based Health Care for All Oregon began trying to learn from their defeat.

  • The biggest lesson from 2002 was that not enough potential ally organizations were consulted in the designing of the plan.

  • In the future, many more groups—community, health care providers, labor, business, faith, organizations of color— would need to be engaged in planning Oregon’s universal health care system.

  • As the debate running up to Obamacare raged nationally, health care advocates from Oregon got involved.

  • Mad as Hell Doctors, many with them from the Oregon chapters of Physicians for a National Health Program, did a nationwide tour promoting single payer.

  • And after Obama and Congress knocked single payer off the table in the Affordable Care Act, advocates in Oregon got busy.

  • Health Care for All-Oregon grew from a regional to a statewide coalition.

  • HCAO convened groups like the Mad as Hell Doctors, Mid Valley Health Care Advocates, Portland Jobs with Justice Health Care Committee and a number of unions, community, faith and other groups into a coalition.

  • They began planning a multi-pronged strategy to pass single payer in Oregon.

  • The strategy is both legislative and working towards a ballot measure.

  • In the legislature, we are building towards universal health care but, legislators, due to the super majority required to pass new taxes, will not likely ever create the final bill.

  • But, in the legislature, we can educate and build relationships with our legislators and strengthen the foundations of support for universal health care.

  • In 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 we have run single payer bills, held hearings and educated the legislators and the public.

  • In 2013 we ran a bill to create a study on 4 ways to get to universal health care in Oregon: A public option, an essential health benefits plan, single payer or the Affordable Care Act as is. This bill passed with bipartisan support.

  • In 2015 we ran a bill to finance that study and it passed.

  • In 2016 the Oregon Health Authority put out a request for proposals and the national RAND Corporation won the bid to do the study.

  • In 2017 the RAND Report came out indicating a single payer system was the most likely to achieve universal health care and at no more cost than other options.

  • In 2017 we are asking the legislature to create a task force or work group to plan how to implement such a universal health care system in Oregon.

  • In 2018 and 19 we will ask the legislature to refer an initiative creating Health Care for All in Oregon to the voters in the next presidential election in 2020.

  • If the legislature fails to refer, we will begin collecting signatures for a 2020 ballot measure creating Health Care for All-Oregon.

  • Several other states are also planning for 2020 ballot measures or legislation, which will increase the costs to the opposition of fighting universal health care.

Recent History

The fight for single payer health care in Oregon goes back a long way (see below). A ballot initiative sponsored by Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO) seemed headed for passage in 2003 before it was buried in an avalanche of insurance industry money late in the campaign. Portland Jobs with Justice (JwJ), after fighting for several years for HR 676, the national single payer bill, decided to work on a state measure after passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 made clear that Congress wasn’t interested in real health reform. Physicians for a National Health Program and the Mad as Hell Doctors joined with HCAO and JwJ to form the Oregon Single Payer Campaign (OSPC), which worked with Rep. Michael Dembrow to draft the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Act (HB 3510) and lobby in Salem in 2011 for its passage.

      Widespread support for the bill was apparent at a January 2011 conference called by OSPC which drew close to 600 people. Two months later, supporters filled two committee rooms and spilled out into the lobby of the State Capitol for a dramatic hearing of the House Health Care Committee. HB 3510 didn’t make it to the floor for a vote, but support for universal, publicly-funded health care at the state and national levels has continued to grow—especially as the health care crisis has deepened and the weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act have become more obvious.

      On January 27, 2012, representatives of 28 organizations* met to launch a statewide coalition. Its goal: to unite everyone in Oregon who believes that health care is a human right and that only a publicly-funded system can assure everyone full and equal access to that right. Labor unions, health care providers, faith groups, immigrant rights groups, advocates for the homeless and under-served—working together, we can challenge the power of the few who profit from this country’s broken health care system.

--Peter Shapiro

In the beginning. . .

In the early 1980's, ten state legislators, including Bill Morrisette and Jim Edmunson, sponsored a single payer bill.  The Oregon Health Plan (OHP), enacted in 1994 after an enormous amount of public involvement, was originally contemplated by many as a possible vehicle for a statewide single payer plan; however, the Legislature refused to adequately fund the plan, so OHP now employs state and federal funding to subsidize and maintain a private health insurance model.

In 1995, the Oregon Health Action Campaign (OHAC) spearheaded submission of a singlepayer bill, SB 1066, which was endorsed by dozens of state organizations and received a hearing.  When an OHAC sub-committee, the Single Payer Action Reform Committee (SPARC), prepared to launch a single payer initiative campaign, it broke away from OHAC due to legal requirements and became an independent 501(c)4 corporation, Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO) in 1999. 

HCAO became something else....story is unfolding. 

From 1999 through 2001, a broad-based group of citizen activists in HCAO spent years writing the initiative language and getting feedback on the measure from other groups around the state.  Organizers chose a specific funding mechanism that used existing government funding, an employer payroll tax and an income tax.  The single payer initiative was filed in spring 2002, and put on the ballot in November 2002; it was outspent 50:1 and got only about 21% of the vote.

--Mike Huntington, M.D.

En Espanol

Historia del Movimiento por la Salud


En Oregon, la lucha por un sistema de atención a la salud financiado públicamente ya tiene una trayectoria larga (véase a continuación). Una iniciativa de voto patrocinada por Health Care for All-Oregon – HCAO (Atención a la Salud para Todos- Oregon)  parecía prometer éxito en 2003 antes de quedar sepultada bajo una avalancha de publicidad en su contra financiada por la industria de seguros durante las últimas etapas de la campaña.  La organización Portland Jobs with Justice (Puestos de Trabajo con Justicia de Portland - JwJ), habiendo luchado durante varios años por la adopción de HR 676, el proyecto de ley nacional de financiamiento público de la atención a la salud, decidió trabajar en una medida estatal después de que la aprobación del Affordable Care Act (Acta de Atención Asequible a la Salud) dejó claro que el Congreso no estaba interesado en una verdadera reforma de la atención a la salud.   Las agrupaciones Physicians for a National Health Program (Médicos por un Programa de Atención a la Salud Nacional) y Mad as Hell Doctors (Médicos Furiosos) se unieron a HCAO y JwJ para formar la organización Oregon Single Payer Campaign (OSPC – Campaña por la Salud con Financiamiento Público de Oregon), la que trabajó con el Representante Michael Dembrow en la redacción deAffordable Health Care for All Oregon Act (HB 3510 – Acta de Atención a la Salud Asequible para todo Oregon) y en ejercer presión en Salem para su adopción en 2011.

Se hizo aparente que existía amplio apoyo para el proyecto de ley durante una conferencia celebrada en Enero de 2011, convocada por OSPC, la que atrajo a cerca de 600 personas. Dos meses más tarde, los partidarios del proyecto llenaron dos salas de comité, ocupando también parte del vestíbulo del Capitolio Estatal en una dramática audiencia del Comité de Atención a la Salud de la Cámara de Representantes (House Health Care Committee). HB 3510 no alcanzó a llegar al pleno de la Cámara para una votación, pero el apoyo a la atención de salud universal financiada públicamente a nivel estatal y nacional ha continuado creciendo --- especialmente a medida que la crisis del sistema existente se ha profundizado y las debilidades del Acta de Atención a la Salud Asequible se han vuelto más obvias.

El 27 de Enero de 2012, los representantes de 28 organizaciones* se reunieron para lanzar una coalición a nivel estatal. Su meta: unir a todas las personas de Oregon que creen que la atención a la salud es un derecho humano y que solamente un sistema financiado con fondos públicos puede asegurarles a todos un acceso pleno y egalitario a ese derecho.  Las organizaciones sindicales, proveedores de atención a la salud, grupos religiosos, agrupaciones por los derechos de inmigrantes, defensores de las personas sin hogar y de las sub-atendidas --- todos trabajando en conjunto, podemos desafiar al poder de los pocos que profitan del sistema de atención a la salud fracasado de este país.

-Peter Shapiro 

* Nota:  Por favor vaya a About Us (Sobre Nosotros) para ver la lista actual de más de 60 organizaciones miembros de la Coalición.

En un principio. . .

A principios de la década de los ’80, diez legisladores estatales, incluyendo a Bill Morrisette y a Jim Edmunson, patrocinaron un proyecto de ley de atención a la salud financiada con dineros públicos.  El Oregon Health Plan – OHP (Plan de Salud de Oregon), promulgado en 1994 después de un enorme involucramiento público, fue originalmente visto por muchos como un posible vehículo para un plan estatal financiado públicamente; sin embargo, la Legislatura se negó a asignarle fondos adecuados al plan, de manera que OHP ahora emplea fondos estatales y federales para subvencionar y matener un modelo de seguro de salud privado.

En 1995, la Oregon Health Action Campaign – OHAC (Campaña de Acción por la Salud de Oregon) impulsó la presentación de un proyecto de ley financiado con fondos públicos, SB 1066, el que fue apoyado por docenas de organizaciones estatales y al cual se le otorgó una audiencia.   Cuando un sub-comité de OHAC, el Single Payer Action Reform Committee – SPARC (Comité de Reforma de la Acción por un Plan Financiado con Fondos Públicos), se preparó para lanzar una campaña de iniciativa para un plan de salud público, se desligó de OHAC debido a requerimientos legales, transformándose en una corporación independiente 501(c)4, Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO - Atención a la Salud para Todo Oregon) en 1999. 

HCAO se transformó en otra historia continúa. 

Entre 1999 y 2001, un amplio grupo de ciudadanos activistas de HCAO pasó años redactando la iniciativa y obteniendo comentarios sobre la medida de parte de otros grupos de todo el estado.  Los organizadores eligieron un mecanismo de financiamiento específico que utilizaba financiamiento existente, un impuesto sobre la nómina del empleador y un impuesto a la renta.  La iniciativa fue presentada en la primavera de 2002, y colocada en la boleta electroral en Noviembre de 2002; los gastos en su contra sobrepasaron en una proporción de 50:1 a las sumas gastadas en su apoyo, y la iniciativa recibió solamente alrededor del 21% de los votos.

--Mike Huntington, M.D.