Oregon Action executive director and best candidate for senate district 22 was up at 7'oclock this morning, for a forum with small business owners in North Portland to discuss health reform with staffers for Senator Jeff Merkley and Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
"People assume that small business owners don't want to see health reform," said Bowman. "So we put together this alliance of small businesses that want it."
The group included Jim Houser, owner of the Hawthorne Auto Clinic, who the Mercury covered back in June. Houser is paying more than $80,000 to insure his employees on a yearly basis, and said "something's got to give."
One business owner said he was flying to Bangkok to get medical care these days, because it's more affordable there. "But I don't want to see that continue," he said. "We can't outsource our health industry." Meanwhile another said he couldn't afford to have children because of the high cost of providing health insurance to his family. "I don't want to get out of this business," he said. "But if I do, it'll be because of health care costs."
The group discussed the various health reform packages currently on the table, including a controversial bill proposed today by the Senate Finance Committee, which excludes a public health insurance option in favor of creating "consumer-owned cooperatives."
Everyone from former health insurance industry bosses to President Obama has said a public option would compete with insurance companies to keep them honest, but Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, has continued to resist. Wyden's Finance Committee bill got a negative reaction from the group of small business owners today. So much so, in fact, that they decided to call their senators and let them know:
The group also plans to do an outreach event to other small businesses in town in a couple of weeks. In the mean time if you're an Oregon small business owner and want to get involved in the fight for health care—maybe you just want a poster for your window that says "This Business Supports Health Care Reform," call Richard Presicci at the Oregon Small Business Council, a project of Oregon Action, on 503 282 6588. Or email him.