All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676 c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Oregon unionists have a unique opportunity to make a vital contribution to the struggle for single payer healthcare legislation.
As the article below from the Corvallis Gazette-Times indicates, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley told a community meeting in Corvallis, “I will support a single-payer plan if we can get it to the floor.” During the November campaign Merkley indicated support for single payer, but this is the first time he has done so since being elected.
If Senator Merkley will introduce a Senate companion bill to Congressman John Conyers’ House single payer bill (HR 676) or co-sponsor the single payer bill (S 703) just introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the national struggle for will be lifted to a new level. We need to put the single payer solution on the table in the Senate as well as the House.
For Senator Merkley to take such a step he must hear from a movement within his state that persuades him that popular support and activism for single payer is massive and is stronger than the power of the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.
Our hope is that Oregon’s union movement can take up the challenge of persuading Senator Merkley to take this action.
We are sending this memo to all Oregon unions that have endorsed HR 676 asking them to contact Sen. Merkley:
1) Send a letter to Sen. Merkley telling him that your union has endorsed HR 676 and ask him to introduce HR 676 in the Senate or sign on as a co-sponsor of S 703. If you can, send him a copy of your union’s resolution endorsing HR 676.
2) Ask other community organizations or individuals to write or call Sen. Merkley.
3) Make an appointment to meet with him during the congressional recess April 6 to April 17th when members will be in their home districts.
4) Attend community forums and meetings where he is appearing and raise the single payer health care issue in ways that show the popular support.
Please let us know whatever actions you decide to take and any responses you receive. .
Thank you for your efforts. It is our unions that must lead this struggle to bring health care justice to the nation. If we can help in any way, please let us know.
Merkley backs single-payer system
By Rachel Beck
“Health care” were the two words on everyone’s lips Saturday in a public meeting with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.
About 150 people packed a conference room at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library for a town hall meeting, Merkley’s first in Corvallis since his November election victory over incumbent Gordon Smith.
Merkley described his four committee assignments and the challenges he hopes to help solve.
“We are facing one of the most difficult moments we’ve seen in the economy in our lifetimes,” he said.
Fielding questions, he said, “I will support a single-payer plan if we can get it to the floor.”
But he said there must be a bill on the table by summer or Congress will get bogged down by other issues.
“We may not get this opportunity for another 20, 30 years,” he said.
Merkley said he has signed on to a bill that would quadruple money to health clinics, which are cost-effective. He also supports wellness programs, particularly for youth, which act as preventative care.
Merkley said lack of oversight over companies such as Halliburton was a huge problem, and a questioner asked if he would refuse campaign contributions from such companies. Merkley said the question was too broad.
Dr. Paul Hochfeld of Corvallis drew a parallel between the senator’s answer and the power of insurance companies in the healthcare debate. He wanted to know how the political process could be fixed to keep industry from unfairly influencing legislation.
Merkley didn’t offer specifics but said the current campaign funding models aren’t working to make sure voices are heard equally.
The economy was another topic. Merkley compared stimulus funding to a short-term pain with long-term benefits, much preferable to not doing anything and facing worse problems down the road.
Merkley said after the meeting that he was struck by how many people turned out and the energy of the crowd. Topics raised were mostly the same he’s heard elsewhere in the state.
“I think by and large it’s the same cross-section of addressing fundamental concerns of healthcare and jobs,” he said.
He said he and fellow Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden hope to work to highlight Oregon as a state on the cutting edge of renewable energy technology.