Oregon’s HOPE Amendment wins first legislative vote, moves to full House of Representatives

Oregon legislators took the first step towards amending Oregon’s Constitution to recognize health care as a human right Feb. 7.

More than 100 Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) members, advocates, community leaders and legislators crowded hearing rooms at the State Capitol Wednesday to show their support for Oregon’s HOPE amendment (House Joint Resolution 203). The HOPE amendment would amend Oregon’s Constitution to recognize health care as a fundamental right. If approved by the Legislature, the HOPE amendment will be referred to voters at the November 2018 general election.

After hearing testimony from nurses and other supporters, the House Health Care Committee voted 6-3 to approve the HOPE amendment and advance it to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

“Oregon’s nurses and a majority of all Oregonians share the belief that everyone has a right to affordable health care. Our ability to lead productive, happy lives depends on it,” said Martin Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon Nurses Association. Taylor testified in support of the HOPE amendment Wednesday.

“At a time when our right to health care is under assault nationally, Oregon needs the HOPE amendment as our backstop. We will not lose a decade of health care improvements to go back to a time when nearly 1 in 5 Oregonians lived with the fear and uncertainty of being uninsured,” Taylor said.

“Access to health insurance is essential to build healthy families and healthy communities,” said ONA nurse Savannah Jensen, RN, who also testified in support of the HOPE amendment. “Everyone should be able to see a doctor or nurse when they need to without worrying about going bankrupt. Passing the HOPE amendment moves Oregon closer to a future where everyone has access to affordable health care.”

“The HOPE amendment affirms in our state constitution the shared value Oregonians hold dear: everyone should be able to access affordable and comprehensive health care. As a nurse, I’ve seen access to health care dramatically improve the lives of thousands of Oregonians,” said ONA member and nurse educator Teri Mills, RN, MS, CNE. “In the face of national threats to health care, it’s time we stabilize our health care system in a meaningful way so all Oregonians have access to affordable care.”

Read the Hope Amendment (HJR 203)

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. It is a professional association and labor union which represents nearly 15,000 nurses across the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit www.OregonRN.org