Advocacy Brief
October 16, 2018
Hello OPS Members and Partners,

By the end of this week, Oregon voters will receive their ballots for the state election - they are due November 6. Below are the public pro-child stands OPS has taken on several political issues, as well as a Call to Action from the AAP on newly proposed federal policies that could harm immigrant children. We encourage you to share this information widely. We'd also love to hear from those of you attending the AAP's National Conference & Exhibition in Florida on election day; gun violence prevention will be a key discussion there.


Julie Scholz, Executive Director

Vaccination Opt-Out Enters the Governor's Race

During the October 9 Oregon gubernatorial debate, the moderator inquired about the candidates' stance on vaccine-related legislation. Dr. Knute Buehler responded that he supported a parent's choice to opt-out of a child's vaccinations for  personal beliefs, religious beliefs, or strong alternative medical beliefs.

This view does not reflect the stance of OPS, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or the evidence base. A coalition of OPS members, board directors, and primary care associations responded, urging Dr. Buehler to reverse his position. OPS sent a   letter to his campaign , and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, OPS, and the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians issued a joint media statement to 32 news publications across the state. The Oregonian picked up the story quickly.
The AAP specifically recommends that state laws permitting nonmedical exemptions to school entry immunization requirements should be eliminated. Oregon has some of the lowest U.S. childhood vaccination rates, putting community immunity at risk. In our state, nonmedical exemptions require a certificate from a provider or proof that the parent has watched an online video. A 2016 California law abolished the personal-belief option, requiring public and private school students to be vaccinated against contagious illnesses.
Oregon's November Ballot
The OPS Board supported the recommendations of our Advocacy Committee to oppose Ballot Measures 103 and 105 because these measures would have an adverse effect on patients' health. If approved by voters, these constitutional amendments would be extremely difficult to reverse.

Measure 103 (Prohibits New Grocery Taxes)

The corporate proponents of 103 are well-funded and are running an aggressive media campaign; store clerks put "Yes on 103" leaflets and magnets in grocery bags. Jimmy Unger, MD, Kaiser Permanente & Advocacy Committee co-chair, summarizes the arguments against Measure 103, which also freezes the state's corporate minimum tax for supermarkets.
  • It is designed to prevent a policy (a grocery tax) that is not under consideration.
  • Funded by multi-million dollar contributions from large grocery chains, it is an attempt to preempt a sugar-sweetened beverage tax from ever being considered.
  • Would prevent any future increase in bottle bill deposits
  • Unintended consequences could include forever preventing taxes on tobacco vaping products.
  • Would retroactively apply to the recently enacted healthcare provider tax on food sold in health care institutions - thereby taking away a funding stream for the Oregon Health Plan.
Measure 105 (Repeal Oregon's Immigration Sanctuary State)

OPS has joined the Oregonians United Against Profiling coalition, and is featured in a No on 105 Voter's Pamphlet statement  with other public health organizations.

Here's an update from OPS Advocacy Committee member Lauren Herbert, MD, Peace Health:

"Measure 105 would repeal Oregon's 30-year sanctuary status. OPS opposes Measure 105 because we think that passage would threaten the health and safety of Oregon children and immigrant families, and encourage racial profiling.

In the Eugene-Springfield area, 30 physicians signed a letter to Sheriff Byron Trapp, asking him to publicly oppose Measure 105. While the Lane County sheriff has not publicly opposed the measure, neither did he endorse it, unlike sheriffs in southern Oregon. I spoke at the Eugene City Council Meeting on October 8, urging the council to endorse a statement opposing 105.  We have also worked with the Integration Network in organizing an educational series for local churches on Measure 105, and raised over $3,500 at a dinner for opposing the measure.

Earlier this year, we wrote a letter to the Springfield Mayor and City Council Members, urging them to terminate the jail's contract with ICE. The vote was unanimous to terminate the contract. As pediatricians, we joined many voices in this effort."

CALL to ACTION on "Public Charge" Proposal

A new regulation proposed by the federal government could prevent immigrant kids from obtaining nutrition support and health care. This proposed rule on "public charge" would expand the test used to decide if someone can obtain legal residency in the U.S.
If the rule takes effect, the federal government would consider whether an immigrant has used or is likely to use public benefits, including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance. The test would also consider an immigrant's income and preexisting medical conditions. Child health providers can play a critical role by explaining how this proposal could prevent families from accessing needed services.
From AAP District 8 Vice Chair Greg Blaschke, MD, MPH:
"We have a window until December 10 to submit comments.  These should be done individually, personalizing the content so it is not duplicative (form letters).  There are sample letters, action items, & FAQs in the AAP's tool kit.
You don't have to be an expert in immigrant health or political science to submit a public comment. If you practice in the U.S., you're already an expert on how key public programs--especially Medicaid and SNAP--help vulnerable kids stay healthy, stay in school, and participate on daily life. Most of the country has no idea how important these programs are for kids and, as a result, for entire communities. That real-world experience is the most important thing you can share." 
State Advocacy

The Oregon Legislature's "long session" begins January 22. OPS plans to host its fi rst Day in the Capitol at the end of February/beginning of March. Stay tuned for a Save the Date announcement!

Meanwhile, if you want to brush up on some foundational legislative advocacy skills, you can view this Advocacy 101 webinar which Children First for Oregon-the organization that coordinates the state's Children's Agenda-presented in September.