What Oregonians ought to know in regards to the governor candidates and well being care

What Oregonians ought to know in regards to the governor candidates and well being care

Health Care Industry

The continued fallout of a world pandemic, a scarcity of nurses, rising politicization of vaccines — these are among the many well being care coverage points that can problem Oregon’s subsequent governor.

Right here’s the place the candidates stand on vaccination, the pandemic and the well being care business — primarily based on their very own phrases and their voting information.


Political polarization over the pandemic fueled a brand new wave of misinformation about vaccines.

Even earlier than that, youngsters in Oregon had been much less prone to begin kindergarten with all their childhood vaccines than their counterparts in different states. In 2021, the exemption price for Oregon kindergarteners was 5.4%, in comparison with a nationwide common of two.2%.

The decrease vaccination price makes the Portland metro space a identified potential hotspot for infectious illness outbreaks just like the measles.

Of the three candidates, Tina Kotek is the one one to assist narrowing the broad grounds for exemptions to highschool vaccine necessities in Oregon regulation.

What Oregonians ought to know in regards to the governor candidates and well being care

A affected person waits for care within the hallway of the emergency division at Salem Well being in Salem, Ore., final January. Oregon’s three candidates for governor have completely different views on find out how to deal with hospital staffing points.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

In 2019, Kotek voted for laws that will have eliminated exemptions for philosophical and non secular causes. The invoice obtained pushback from vaccine opponents who stated it infringed on parental rights. In the long run, Democrats agreed to kill it to assist finish a walkout by senate Republicans.

“My precedence on this space might be on growing consciousness and public schooling in regards to the significance of childhood vaccinations and ensuring it’s simple for folks to vaccinate their youngsters,” Kotek informed OPB in response to a survey despatched to all of the candidates that included questions on their stances on well being care points.

See OPB’s overviews of the place Drazan, Johnson, and Kotek stand on abortion and drug decriminalization.

She wrote that she doesn’t assist altering the record of required vaccinations to incorporate a COVID-19 shot “right now,” however stated she is going to hearken to specialists and scientists on selections associated to public well being.

In March, she informed Willamette Week she would assist requiring COVID-19 vaccines for college attendance after the pictures get full FDA approval.

Drazan and Johnson each assist Oregon’s present regulation giving dad and mom broad grounds to exempt their youngsters from the routine childhood vaccination necessities for public faculties, and voted towards previous efforts to slim it.

“Whereas I’m personally supportive of vaccines and acknowledge the important position they play in protecting our youngsters and our communities secure, I imagine that oldsters and households ought to be capable of make the selections which are proper for his or her youngsters,” Johnson wrote to OPB.

Each Drazan and Johnson oppose requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for college attendance.

“Completely not,” Drazan wrote in response to OPB’s query on the matter.

Three people are pictured side by side

The three main candidates for Oregon governor. From left to proper: Tina Kotek, Betsy Johnson and Christine Drazan.

OPB Employees / OPB

A proper to entry well being care

In November, Oregon voters will resolve on Measure 111. It might amend the Oregon Structure to create a brand new particular person proper to entry reasonably priced well being care, much like the proper to a Okay-12 public schooling.

The Legislature referred Measure 111 to the poll in a celebration line vote — Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed. And so they disagree on what it means.

Democratic legislators pushing for it stated it units a aim — equal entry to well being look after all — whereas leaving it as much as the Legislature to outline what which means and find out how to fund it.

Republican opponents stated it might probably value the state billions of {dollars} and take cash away from different core providers.

The candidates have very completely different takes too.

Kotek, who helps Measure 111, describes it as a solution to protect Oregon from any future makes an attempt by Congressional Republicans to chop Medicaid or Obamacare.

Drazan, who opposes it, prompt that absolutely implementing Measure 111 would require a significant improve in state spending on well being care and would require a tax hike.

She wrote that if the measure passes, as governor she would attempt to restrict the monetary implications and would maintain Democrats to their phrase that the measure is “aspirational” and never a assure of well being look after all.

“I imagine we are able to do a greater job of connecting Oregonians with well being care by bettering the present system than we are able to by locking ourselves right into a constitutional mandate,” Drazan wrote.

Johnson stated she opposes government-run well being care and opposes “plans to lift taxes to declare well being care a common proper,” but when Oregonians go the measure, she is going to implement it “if there’s a financially possible manner to take action.”

The candidates’ voting information on increasing entry to reasonably priced well being care additionally differ. In 2015, throughout Kotek’s tenure as speaker of the home, the Legislature prolonged Medicaid protection to undocumented immigrant youngsters who qualify. Kotek and Johnson each voted for the invoice, which handed with bipartisan assist. Drazan was not but serving within the Legislature.

In 2017, once more underneath Kotek’s management, the Legislature made undocumented adults eligible for Medicaid. Johnson and Kotek voted for the invoice. Drazan voted towards it.

The COVID-19 pandemic

When the candidates talk about the pandemic, they speak about it within the rearview mirror. For Drazan and Johnson, it’s a chance to hammer Kotek on a number of the least in style and most questionable selections made by her ally, Gov. Kate Brown, like protecting public faculties closed to in-person studying within the spring of 2021, even after academics obtained precedence for vaccination.

With up to date vaccines obtainable and demise charges in Oregon a few quarter of their 2021 peak, COVID-19 poses much less of a risk to most Oregonians than it as soon as did. However the impacts of the pandemic are usually not definitively over, notably within the well being care sector, and COVID-19 continues to trigger sickness and demise.

OPB requested every candidate about a very powerful factor Oregon ought to do to mitigate the continued hurt brought on by COVID-19.

Drazan didn’t level to any statewide actions, framing the pandemic as a matter of particular person duty at this level.

“I belief Oregonians to speak to their medical suppliers and reply to present circumstances to find out the perfect strategy for themselves and their household,” she wrote.

Johnson wrote that oldsters and companies would get an even bigger say in making coverage had been she to turn out to be governor.

“I’ll be certain that when selections impacting sure teams or stakeholders are made that there are representatives of these teams within the room,” Johnson wrote.

Kotek stated she’d concentrate on entry to up to date vaccines and testing.

“I might be clear and clear in speaking to Oregonians in regards to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in our lives and what the specialists say we needs to be doing,” she wrote.

Labor vs. the well being care business

The candidates are divided on the position of presidency — and authorities regulation — in well being care.

These ideological variations will matter because the well being business charts a path to long-term restoration from the pandemic. There’s a dire statewide scarcity of nurses, CNAs, and different well being care professionals. There’s a scarcity of beds for sufferers that want long run care or psychological well being remedy. And there are quickly rising prices which are crippling a number of the state’s non-public well being care methods; hospitals in Oregon have collectively misplaced $200 million to this point this 12 months.

A showdown is rumored to be brewing between hospital directors and the Oregon Nurses’ Affiliation over find out how to deal with the labor disaster, and whether or not the state needs to be extra concerned in regulating nurses’ pay and dealing circumstances.

Throughout the KTZV debate in Bend, the candidates had been requested what rapid steps they’d take to assist hospitals going through a capability disaster and deteriorating funds.

They sparred in response, with Johnson attacking Kotek for making a number of the state’s pandemic assist to hospitals and nursing properties contingent on them elevating wages and paying additional time.

“Most of the hospitals handed on taking the cash due to the strings together with labor necessities that didn’t exist beforehand,” Johnson stated. “We have to strengthen our well being care system all throughout and never vilify their CEOs and downgrade and diminish their work.”

Kotek, a longtime ally of labor teams who’s endorsed by the Oregon Nurses’ Affiliation, returned the assault, accusing Drazan and Johnson of siding with hospital CEOs over nurses.

“Within the pandemic, I believe the distinction with my colleagues is that I supported the individuals on the bottom doing the work,” she stated.

“We don’t have a nurse scarcity in Oregon, we’ve nurses who don’t wish to return to work at hospitals which have handled them poorly, not paid them effectively and continued to pay their CEOs tens of millions and tens of millions of {dollars}.”

Drazan weighed in too. “You can’t erode the hospital system itself after which act like labor can have someplace to serve Oregonians. It’s simply not life like,” she stated.

On different key points as effectively, Drazan and Johnson are aligned with the well being care business leaders whereas Kotek has aligned herself with well being care staff’ unions.

In 2021, after they had been all serving within the Legislature, Kotek supported a invoice, backed partially by labor unions, that provides the Oregon Well being Authority sweeping energy to evaluate well being system mergers and partnerships, whereas Drazan and Johnson voted towards it. The Oregon Affiliation of Hospitals and Well being methods quietly sued the state over these rules Oct. 3.