Representative Linda Flores: Health care rights and wrongs

Pess release from State Representative Linda Flores 2-13-08:

Health Care as a Constitutional Right is Wrong — Says Flores

(Salem) “It would be great if we all got a free house, free food, free clothes, and a free car”¦but we don’t live in Cuba and we don’t live in Camelot; we live in the real world and we need to look at a more realistic approach,” said State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) during floor debate on a measure to make “health care a fundamental right”. House Joint Resolution 100 passed on party line vote 31-29.

If HJR 100 is adopted by the Senate it would be placed on the ballot in November and would amend the Oregon Constitution. “Voters deserve to know what they’re buying into. How much is this going to cost? What are they getting for their money? And we’re talking about taxpayer money,” explained Flores.

This measure also passed the House by a narrow margin during the 2007 Session but died in the Senate. HJR 100 calls on the legislature to establish “a plan for a system designed to provide to every legal resident of the state access to effective and affordable health care on a regular basis.” One of the biggest concerns by Flores and others is that there are no definitions for terms like “affordable health care.”

Representative Flores is a member of the House Health Care Committee. Testimony in committee revealed the cost of providing access to medical care to all Oregonians could be as high as $20 billion dollars a year. She told her colleagues if the state is forced to make health care a priority, other programs might face budget cuts like education and public safety.

On the floor, Flores pointed out California was the most recent state to abandon efforts to move toward universal health care and there are several challenges pending at the federal court level. She added, “do we want Oregon to go through all this only to be tied up with years of litigation?”

The last time Oregonians voted on this type of proposal was in 2002 on Ballot Measure 23 which failed by a margin of nearly 80 % opposed. “I understand there is a new committee looking into these issues, but we’re buying a pig in a poke here,” said Flores.

Flores concluded by saying, “if our goal is to provide health care coverage, then we should utilize a system which encourages the best medicine to be practiced and prudently uses public resources to expand programs to those who otherwise don’t have access to good care. ” She emphasized a better way to expand access to health care would be to reduce mandates and other bureaucratic barriers and give individuals more choice in a competitive marketplace.