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Sen. Ron Wyden at a Corvallis town hall in August was asked why he has not yet supported universal health care bills. His reply might be classified as word salad.

He first offered two cupsful of “I believe health care is a human right!” The audience cheered. His second ingredient, the notion that private insurance can coexist with health care as a human right, drew no cheers.

He offered Medicare Advantage as an example of private health insurance leading us to universal health care. But Medicare Advantage lobbies for and receives overly generous per capita federal payments, systematically avoids people who need care the most, and overbills taxpayers by billions annually (Health Inc., NPR, July 16, 2019).

Why does he say health care is a human right and yet keep private insurance in the mix? Sen. Wyden receives large campaign contributions from those who benefit from the status-quo (2013-2018 opensecrets.org), including $144,850 from the insurance industry, $269,000 from hospitals and nursing homes, $218,500 from pharmaceuticals and health product companies, and $158,050 from health professionals.

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Sen. Wyden deserves praise for his frequent town halls and his actions on many issues. But please call, write, and email him, urging him to join Sen. Merkley and Reps. DeFazio, Blumenauer, and Bonamici in support of true universal health care (S 1129 and H.R. 1384).

An Elway Research Institute poll published in July showed that 3 in 4 Oregonians want publicly funded universal health care even if it requires doubling or tripling their current state taxes. Oregonians’ pocketbooks and peace of mind will come out ahead. See mvhca.org.

Michael Huntington, M.D.

Corvallis (Sept. 6)

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