Stateline Story

Oregon Health Plan Defeated

Everyone seemed to agree that the universal healthcare concept is important," said Mark Lindgren, president of Health Care for All Oregon. But what critics called flawed and vague language in the proposal turned many people off, he said. Lindgren expected the final count of votes to show that 21 percent of the voters said yes to the plan.

The lack of co-payments in the proposal was a general concern, Lindgren said. The administration costs of health plans that involve co-payments are generally greater than the revenue they generate, he said. "But it may be that people simply can't imagine a system without co-pays."

Rachel DeGolia, a spokeswoman for a national resource and strategic center in Washington, DC called the Universal Health Care Action Network , said the $50,000 that Health Care for All Oregon raised was dwarfed by the estimated $1.2 million the opposition which she said consisted mostly of insurance companies spent fighting Measure 23. "That's $2 a vote," she said.

The lesson healthcare-justice activists need to take away from Tuesday's vote is to organize early and reorganize often, she suggested: "There's no way you can match what the insurance industry puts into it. You can only out-organize them; you can't outspend them."

Lindgren said the idea of Tuesday's defeat of Measure 23 casting a pall over similar efforts around the country was debatable. "It really depends on who is spinning it," he said. "I'm amazed that we got this far with what was almost totally a volunteer effort" by about 80 volunteer leaders and hundreds of others who gathered the signatures needed to get Measure 23 on the ballot.

"Many will say this will make things tough down the road," Lindgren said. "But I think it shows what a really small group of people can do. It shows that state groups can do it."