Visiting My State Representative

I went to visit my state representative last week, a 5 hour trip (including lunch) for a 15 minute meeting, and totally worth it. Why, you ask? I was inspired by what Michael Moore said at the Women’s March in Washington, calling on those of us living in blue states to work with our state officials to pass legislation that’s both good for us and can be a model for the nation. He specifically praised California and New York for legalizing abortion and paving the way for Roe v. Wade.

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I picked health care. What would it take to get universal health care in Oregon? I didn’t and don’t know, but my state rep seems like a good place to connect. Turns out he’s vice chair of the health care committee. Nice!

Four of us went down to Salem, took in the grandeur of the building and grounds as well as the colonialism and racism implied in the art. The 5 of us sat around a round table in his very modest inner office (the outer offices for all the reps on that floor are in an open corridor with half-walls).

He opened asking us what we were there to talk about. When we said universal health care he grabbed his pen and started drawing. Employer and government self-insured, employer-purchased insurance, medicaid (Oregon Health Plan), medicare, etc. So many details driving home the magnitude of the problem.

Also taxes. The sales tax has been voted down 4 or 5 times in the state’s history and more or less seems off the table. How are we going to pay for the OHP expansion we chose with the Affordable Care Act. We’re proud of now covering more people and a further expansion of OHP might be a viable path to get everyone covered, but how to pay for that?

Next steps: Invite him to our new monthly neighbors gathering. Join a larger coalition such as Health Care for All. Keep learning and talking, especially to residents of districts represented by republicans.

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