Opinion: Clackamas free clinic underscores need for reform
Thank you for last month's wonderful article in the "Neighbors" section about Clackamas Volunteers in Medicine. It was heartwarming to read about the lifesaving benefits these health care heroes and their supporters bring to the medically underserved in our community, and also know what they are doing to help train the next generation of medical service providers.
The article also underscores how government medical programs fail to fill the gaps in our private-market employer-based health care "system" that leaves significant numbers of our citizens — especially the working poor — unable to access health care.
No other economically developed country in the world leaves people stranded out of health care and relies on employer-based private health insurance. The health insurance industry — the freest spending lobby in Congress — exists to maximize profits and they do so by rationing and denying care and charging what the market will bear for the care they do cover.
Health insurance is not health care, and "insurance" is not the payment model the rest of the world uses. The 2021 Oregon Legislature approved and has referred to the 2022 ballot the Hope Amendment, which amends the state constitution to require the state to "ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right."
The Joint Legislative Task Force on Universal Healthcare has been working to develop a system of universal care — the Oregon Plan — to meet this goal for two years and is scheduled to present the plan to the legislature in the 2023 session. Perhaps then, CVIM will be able to be reimbursed as the valued health care providers they are and will not have to continue to also raise the funds to provide the care they do.
Read more about these legislative activities and the movement for universal healthcare in Oregon at the HealthCare for All Oregon website, hcao.org. It is past time to have a sensible, true system of health care in this state and country. Efficient and fair. Everybody in, nobody out!
Gary Sinnen is a resident of unincorporated Clackamas County near Happy Valley.
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