November 25, 2015

Highlights from our town halls: Participants share powerful stories

by Kathy Wai
Policy Advocacy Coordinator

“Thank you for empowering us to tell our stories”- Salem Town Hall participant.

As we conclude three town halls in Portland, Eugene, and Salem in November, we reflect on the many voices and experiences of community members who have been affected by lack of health insurance, or struggled to find appropriate healthcare for themselves or their families. Over 75 community members came to our town halls to share their experiences--we had elders in their 80s to college students and everyone in between, from working professionals, retirees, life-long Oregonians, to recent immigrants. While their stories may be similar or unique, one thing remained clear--they were there because health has impacted their lives in one way or another. “While the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion helped many more get coverage, people still find themselves facing unaffordable premiums and others are categorically excluded. In Oregon, 383,000 individuals remain uninsured,” says Jean Yamamoto, APANO Board Member and Co-Chair for our Health Equity Campaign. A recent report, Mend the Gap, details the gaps in coverage and the disproportionate impacts on rural Oregonians, communities of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, people with chronic conditions and low-wage working families.

Our Families, Our Health, APANO's health equity campaign, is working to close those gaps through policy solutions through our State Legislature. A significant component of this work is collecting stories of community members who are uninsured, or facing barriers to obtaining health care. Our stories are not often shared due to stigma, shame, or isolation, but policy makers and those making major decisions need to hear from our experiences. Our goal is to empower and organize with our community members to win concrete changes in policies that address health disparities. We will continue to collect stories, provide continued education to our members about our campaign, and train volunteers to become advocates for these issues. For more information, or if you would like to get involved, please contact

Last but not least, thank you to our volunteers who helped organized these town halls. Here are some highlights:

  • over 75 community members attended in Portland, Salem, and Eugene
  • collected more than 46 stories
  • 131 signed pledges of support for our campaign (help us get to 500 by February 2016!)

Want to achieve the vision of affordable, accessible healthcare all Oregonians? Sign our PLEDGE OF SUPPORT today!