As the January 23 special election approaches, criminal justice and public safety reform advocates have been rallying in support of Measure 101, which would maintain healthcare for thousands of Oregon families. If you’re an advocate of smart criminal justice policy reform, and you’re wondering how Measure 101 will impact public safety, here are two appeals that land on the same truth: public health is a matter of public safety. Vote Yes on Measure 101.
As a physician assistant working in family medicine at a local nonprofit community health center, I have seen the consequences of lost health insurance: people stop taking their medicines, and they stop showing up at the clinic. Their diabetes, hypertension, and other illnesses rage out of control and ravage their bodies. Eventually, many uninsured patients end up in the emergency departments of hospitals with life-threatening illnesses, costing both them and taxpayers unnecessarily.
Measure 101 would continue funding for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and help ensure that all Oregon residents will be covered by health insurance: 95% of Oregonians and all children will have health insurance if Measure 101 passes. It’s often the only way that patients can afford their medical care, keep important medical appointments, and take life-saving medications.
We cannot afford to go back to a time when only the wealthy could have quality health care. Measure 101 saves everyone money: patients, hospitals, insurers, and Oregonians. If Measure 101 fails, Oregon could lose billions of dollars in federal matching funds, possibly up to $5 billion, and 1 in 4 Oregonians will be at risk of losing their medical coverage.
Please vote Yes for Measure 101.
Oregon’s public safety priorities have evolved toward more investments in treatment and other effective approaches to crime prevention, and rightly so. When people have access to substance abuse and mental health care, they’re less likely to become involved in harmful patterns that can include crime.
Healthcare is a matter of public safety. Today, three out of five people in state prisons struggle with addiction, and two-thirds of jail inmates are in psychological distress or have a mental illness. These problems are preventable and treatable, and the health outcomes are direct: In states where Medicaid has expanded, property and violent crime rates fell.
Equally important is how profoundly crime victims benefit from healthcare coverage. Survivors are more likely to seek physical and mental health care if they have access to services they need to heal and rebuild their lives. Helping survivors also prevents crime. Hurt people hurt people, and healthcare reduces the likelihood that they may cause others harm in the future.
The links between public health and public safety are so direct that most people who work in one inevitably intersect with the other. Yes to public safety means Yes on Measure 101.
Partnership for Safety and Justice