Public health, vaccinations, and housing for the disabled are on the minds of readers this week.
We need access to health care now more than ever
As a key worker not meeting my employer’s health care registration requirements, the worry of getting on and off insurance programs or being dependent on another family member’s benefits only increased during the pandemic.
Access to quality health care has already been a major issue for many Oregonians, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the system’s deficits. Job insecurities and fluctuations in income are not a reason for someone not to have access to necessary medical resources and services, especially as we are trying to deal with COVID-19 and keep our economy going. Because of this, a public health option should be a top priority for Oregon lawmakers.
I want to thank Rep. Andrea Salinas for advocating for public options legislation. She understands not only that these policies can bring much-needed aid now, but also how they will improve the general quality of life for Oregonians in the future.
Ashley Hilfer, Hillsboro
Let’s give the Oregonians the right to repair.
A proposal is before the Oregon legislature that deserves broad public support.
House Bill 2698 is also known as the Right to Repair. The bill would require tools, schematics, blueprints, software, etc., to be provided by manufacturers to owners and repair shops to enable electronic equipment and appliances to be repaired.
This sensible initiative would help develop secondary markets for consumer electronics resale – vital at this point in time to reduce “planned obsolescence” waste and extend the useful life of consumer products that would otherwise grow into the waste stream.
This bill is endorsed by OSPIRG, Free Geek, the Oregon Citizens Utility Board, and the Oregon Association of Recyclers. I encourage everyone to reach out to your legislature and convey your support for this worthy proposal.
John Bloss, Laurelwood
Sloppy system shortens seniors
Once again, Oregon’s seniors appear to have been brought to their knees when filing for vaccines.
Pushed back by teachers, they are now competing with prisoners for vaccines, and even some in long-term care have not been vaccinated. Instead of starting the vaccination planning for people aged 80 and over at the specified time yesterday, the system was switched on hours beforehand. Those who signed up at the specified time were out of luck. [Ed.: This letter was received Feb. 9, the day after vaccine signups for older adults launched.]
The state needs program managers who can stick to their own schedule instead of sticking it to vulnerable seniors who really need the vaccine.
The state has had months to plan this and it comes out as improvisational theater and it’s not very fun.
Sue Bliss, Hillsboro
The struggle for accessibility continues
The construction of curb ramps in Cornelius and Forest Grove is the result of a landmark settlement agreement – the largest accessible transportation commitment in the state’s history – between the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), eight people with mobility and visual impairments. the Oregon Centers for Independent Living Association (AOCIL) and Oregon Disability Rights.
These improvements will connect parts of communities that have been difficult or unsafe for Oregonians with physical disabilities to access and make the driveways along Highway 8 safer.
In July of last year, the Americans with Disabilities Act turned 30.
Oregonians should be proud of the steps our state is taking to bring our communities into compliance with this federal civil rights law. The improvements allow all Oregonians to safely enjoy their communities.
We measure the state’s progress in achieving its goals of bringing more than 12,000 curb ramps across the state into ADA compliance and improving intersection signals across the state’s highway system.
If you know of a missing or inaccessible curb ramp, you can report ODOT issues using the ADA Accessibility Requests complaint form (oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Pages/ADA-Issue-Request-Form.aspx).
You can use the “Ask ODOT” form (autobahn.odot.state.or.us/cf/comments/comments.cfm) for complaints that are not covered by the settlement agreement but are under the control of ODOT – such as level crossings without barriers or sidewalk obstacles that make it impossible for you to reach the curb ramp or use the signal.
Executive Director, Disability Rights Oregon
What “starve the beast” did
I am a frustrated Septuagenerian when I read that Oregon will be the last state to offer COVID-19 vaccines to seniors.
Obviously, the federal government did not implement the introduction of the vaccine.
Oregon lags behind other states in providing public health services. It ranks 31st (2020) nationwide in public health funding and 42nd in annual vaccination rates. Out of 29 states reporting COVID-19 vaccination rates among seniors, Oregon ranks 26th at 11%.
Despite missteps, it’s difficult to find fault with Governor Kate Brown and our public health leadership. You have been thoughtful, intentional, practical, evidence-based, and compassionate in making decisions. It is clear that opening schools and prioritizing vaccinations are the right priorities for our educators and classified staff.
What role do we citizens play in Oregon’s poor performance in providing public health? Many of us subscribed to the “Hunger the Beast” (1980s) philosophy, which promises tax cuts but makes no claims about cuts in services. Fifty-two percent of us voted for Measure 5 (1990) to lower property taxes, which ultimately crippled our ability to fund schools adequately and fairly. Tax cuts mean cuts in budgets, programs and people, which are harmful to our public health.
No wonder Oregon’s leadership faces difficult challenges when it comes to testing us in time, tracking down contacts and vaccinating against COVID-19.
It’s time to give up, “starve the beast” and embrace “you only get what you pay for”. We need to tell Governor Brown and our lawmakers that we value public health and are willing to pay our fair share of taxes. We need to support volunteers who work in the Oregon Vaccine Equity Group and focus on priorities and fairness in vaccine distribution. We are grateful to them that they are ready to tackle very difficult clinical, ethical and social problems. Ultimately, we need to be patient, continue to mask, and keep our physical distance.
David Nardone, Hillsboro
A Forest Grove High School parent’s frustrations
I recently read John Canzano’s article on OregonLive.com about exercising in Oregon. One of his most important points was that the people who could afford to exercise were playing. It was referring to my own thoughts lately.
I’ve been thinking about sending my children to private school. I actually thought about it last summer, but we decided that we will have confidence in the state’s public school system and in our district – confidence that they will protect them while doing what is best for them.
I started thinking about private school again because that doesn’t happen.
Sports do not take place either. Again, I don’t think this is best for people overall. Other parents not so good. So some are moving out of the state – so that their child / children can play. This is why some people who can afford it put their children in club teams – so they can play.
While reading this article and thinking about my own situation, something struck me. What about all the people who can’t afford club teams that charge thousands of dollars? The people who can’t afford to leave the area, their work, their family responsibilities? What about the people who don’t have the resources to pay for a private school? Why are the only ones who can give their children the opportunity to be back in the classroom or in the courts / fields the ones who can afford it?
Everyone should be able to have these things regardless of their financial situation.
I will not give up fighting for these fundamental rights for my children, for all children. Our children deserve the opportunity to be in a classroom and place if they want. It shouldn’t matter who can afford it.
Valyrie Ingram, Forest Grove
You count on us to stay tuned, and we depend on you to fund our efforts. High quality local journalism costs time and money. Please support us in protecting the future of community journalism.