Man doctor using tablet computer in hospital

No bill this session of the Oregon Legislature may be more powerful in its seeming simplicity and brevity than Senate Joint Resolution 12.

It states: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right. … (That) must be balanced against the public interest in funding public schools and other essential public services.”

There were enough votes to pass this proposed constitutional amendment onto voters in 2020. It died, though, due to the Republican walkouts. It may indeed move to the ballot this time. In many ways it’s a tribute to former state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, who repeatedly tried to pass it.

The logic behind it is also simple. You can’t expect Oregonians to work and care for their families if they are not healthy. The Oregon Health Plan coupled with the Affordable Care Act are nearly comprehensive in ensuring one way or another that people get health care. Why is this step necessary? It’s a rock-solid guarantee, advocates for the measure say.

It does come with questions about costs and explanations of how any additional services would be delivered. Those were not discussed during a work session on Monday. They were not discussed earlier in February. The legislative fiscal analysis of the resolution does not even attempt to do so.

Let’s be clear. We want everyone to get access to health care. But when does the Legislature discuss the details of potential costs of this resolution or how it will be carried out?

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