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Effort Underway To Make Health Care A Fundamental Right In Oregon


Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has introduced a joint resolution calling on the state to ensure that every resident has access to effective and affordable health care as a fundamental right.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has introduced a joint resolution calling on the state to ensure that every resident has access to effective and affordable health care as a fundamental right.

Casey Minter/OPB

As Measure 101 passed Tuesday, one of Oregon’s key legislative health care leaders wants to put a measure on the November ballot to make health care a fundamental right.

Portland Democratic Rep. Mitch Greenlick has tried the idea before. But with President Donald Trump and some congressional Republicans calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Greenlick said he thinks now is the time for lawmakers to put this on the ballot in Oregon.

“People are now seriously worried about what’s going to happen to health care,” he said.

Greenlick is chair of the House Committee on Health Care. He said House Joint Resolution 203 has the support of nearly 40 co-sponsors.

While 95 percent of Oregonians have some form of health insurance, Greenlick said that number should be 100 percent.

“At a time when health care is under attack here at home and in the halls of Congress, it is more important than ever that we commit to ensuring that every Oregonian has access to this basic human right,” Greenlick said.

He said referring the ideas to voters “is an important step in advancing that cause.”

He added that he thinks Oregon’s heavily Democratic Legislature would likely support the measure.

The legislation would ask the voters of Oregon to consider adding a section to the state constitution reading: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”

Oregon lawmakers are likely to discuss the idea when they meet next month for a short session.

Greenlick’s proposal got a boost Tuesday, when Oregonians backed two taxes to maintain the state’s expanded Medicaid population.

“Everyone ought to have access to health care … and I think tonight it was a clear signal that Oregonians believe that very strongly,” Gov. Kate Brown said after the vote.

Potential opposition to Greenlick’s proposal could hinge on the threat of lawsuits from those who fall through the cracks.

oregon oregon legislature health care mitch greenlick

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