As a Bend nurse, I see every day what access to healthcare means for my patients. People who have access to preventive care are more likely to stay out of the emergency room, which ultimately saves costs for all of us. That’s why I join so many of our neighbors in urging a YES vote on Measure 101. Everyone in Oregon deserves affordable healthcare coverage, and no family should face bankruptcy due to illness or accidents.
Today, 95 percent of Oregonians have health insurance. But just a few years ago, that number was much lower – nearly 1 in 5 had no coverage. Back then, the only time many of these folks saw a doctor was when they landed in the emergency room, often for a medical crisis brought on by diseases they didn’t know they had: strokes and heart attacks caused by diabetes, cancers that had progressed to a critical stage. Being uninsured and going without primary care can take a devastating toll on people’s health. And the cost of emergency room visits for uninsured people is borne by the rest of us in the form of higher premiums.
Fortunately, in 2014, Oregon opened Medicaid to more low-income people, providing basic health coverage to hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens, including children, working families, disabled adults and seniors. At first, our local clinics and hospitals were full of seriously ill patients who finally had access to basic primary care — some for the first time in decades. Our Central Oregon health system has worked hard to coordinate their care and stabilize their health. And it’s been working. A yes vote on Measure 101 protects the gains we have made in creating healthier communities in our region.
A Yes vote on Measure 101 is the only way to guarantee that 1 in 4 Oregonians, including 300,000 children, as well as seniors, people with disabilities, and hundreds of thousands of working families, can keep their health coverage. That’s why every major children’s advocacy group in the state, including the Oregon School Boards Association, the Oregon Education Association, and Children First for Oregon are urging a yes vote on Measure 101. So are the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon Medical Association, Oregon AARP, the League of Women Voters and more than 160 other groups across our state.
A Yes vote on 101 keeps the current bipartisan law in place and supports healthcare for thousands of Oregonians. A YES vote also stabilizes premiums, saving the Oregonians who buy their own insurance an average of $300/year. A YES vote lowers healthcare costs for all Oregonians by keeping hundreds of thousands insured, allowing our most vulnerable to access basic care.
Thousands of volunteers across Oregon are knocking on doors and making phone calls to urge our neighbors to vote YES on Measure 101 and return your ballots by 8 pm on January 23. Please join us! Visit www.yesforhealthcare.org to get involved.