Healthcare coverage needs to be expanded to cover all Oregonians, which means a path towards healthcare for all. As a child of single, working mother we had no access to health insurance coverage when I was growing up even though she worked at a doctor’s office. It was terrifying for my mother to know one accident could financially devastate our family. Unfortunately, this is still common today, and there is no end to the ever growing costs of medical care. Even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there is still much work to be done to ensure that people have quality, affordable healthcare.
At a local level there are some things we can do to help our Health and Human Services Department and Community Health Centers reach people more efficiently and effectively:
  1. Improving Patient Access: Scheduling services can be a cumbersome process for patients. Appointments can be backlogged for months and calling back daily for availability makes seeing the doctor or nurse hard to plan for, especially working families who must then turn to emergency care. Improving internal scheduling practices could ease this barrier to services.
  2. Expanded mental health care: The earlier we can identify mental health issues the more successful we are at addressing them. Integrated behavioral health specialists and mental health counselors that coordinate with local schools on a consistent schedule could go a long way in reaching rural areas that don’t have health clinics as well as young students while support systems are still in place.  
  3. Increased efficiency of services: Reducing employee turnover, ensuring critical staff positions are consistently filled, and making sure all levels of management have the resources they need and have open lines of communication will create cost efficiencies that can be funneled into more care and service availability.       
As Commissioner I will advocate for improved quality and access of healthcare for every citizen by exploring opportunities to expand basic health services to our rural areas, working families and the most vulnerable in our community.