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The Long Road Toward Public Health
The ghost of Mitch Greenlick haunts the Legislature

In 2005, the Late Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) along with a community coalition, filed a petition for the “Hope for Oregon Families” ballot initiative. Although it failed to make the ballot it did spark a movement to provide healthcare for all in Oregon which is still being considered today.

Before coming to the Legislature in 2003 as the Representative for HD 33 – NW Portland and parts of Multnomah and Washington Counties, he enjoyed a career in the healthcare field. He earned his B.S. in Pharmacy from Wayne State University in 1957, his M.S. in Pharmacy Administration at Wayne State University in 1960 and his Ph.D. in Medical Care Organization from the University of Michigan in 1967. His professional experience included being a Professor Emeritus at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, a VP of Research at Kaiser Foundation Hospital, and the Director/Founder of the Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research Foundation Hospitals.

While in office Representative Greenlick used his background in healthcare to educate his colleagues and champion the movement of providing affordable healthcare to all Oregonians. He was determined to not let the failed ballot attempt stop him from his dream. He sponsored many resolutions in attempts to get the issue in front of Oregon voters. Despite his party having control of the Senate, the House and the Governor’s office, during most of his time in office, he was still unable to move the resolutions to the voters. Now the 2021 Legislature is looking to move Representative Greenlick’s concept across the finish line with the introduction of SJR 12 by Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward (D–Portland) and Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland). Again, 2020 HJR 12 proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution establishing an obligation of The State to ensure every resident of state access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate, and affordable health care. Requires The State to balance its obligations against the public interest in funding public schools and other essential public services.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

However, as has been each time the concept has been brought forward, there is an inability to assess what the cost of providing “affordable healthcare” would be to the state budget. The Legislative Fiscal Offices (LFO) which reviews the cost to the state budget to implement bills as well as estimates any revenue that may be generated by legislation. For each one of the resolutions, LFO has issued the same statement. With respect to revenue, they have reported “it has NO impact on state or local revenues”. On the state budget impact side, however, they have stated “Costs related to the measure are indeterminate at this time”. This has long been the concern of opponents to this legislation. Healthcare is not free and if it is to be provided to everyone in Oregon by the state, how will the state pay for it and how will it impact the ability to fund other portions of the state budget. 2020 HJR 12 received a hearing on February 24th in the Senate Committee on Healthcare. A work session has not been scheduled as of press time.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-25 10:19:05Last Update: 2021-02-25 10:44:19



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