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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune

Gov. Kate Brown speaks at the Ashland Health Center Wednesday about protecting health coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Brown rails against cuts to pre-existing condition coverage

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown used her visit Wednesday morning to the Rogue Valley to call for keeping pre-existing conditions covered under government-run health insurance.

The Democratic governor gave a brief press conference in a courtyard behind Ashland’s Planned Parenthood, flanked by supporters that included two local residents living with pre-existing conditions who spoke before her remarks.

“I think their stories are a really important reminder about why it’s important to fight for health care coverage, which is under attack from the current administration, the (Donald) Trump administration,” Brown said.

Brown noted that Oregon’s insurance law, which would be unaffected by federal changes, does not allow insurers to exclude individuals from coverage for pre-existing conditions. Her repeated message, however, was that Oregonians should take that same stance to their federal representatives.

She hit the Trump administration repeatedly for “threatening to rip away hope” from patients such as Bart Madson and Sarah Moran, whose comments preceded hers.

Moran spoke about her difficulty covering her health care costs while experiencing first ovarian cancer and later endometriosis. She said the endometriosis required multiple surgeries and made it difficult for her to work — and she could only find coverage under her husband’s insurance.

The idea that insurance companies could exclude her for her pre-existing condition is “terrifying,” she said.

Brown’s visit included a meeting with Planned Parenthood staff and patients and a small group of other community members, including state Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland.

The governor’s communications director said she met with “local community stakeholders” in Medford Tuesday afternoon to talk about budget concerns.

Brown fielded a few questions at the end of her prepared remarks. Those included her thoughts on a proposed initiative that seeks to prohibit the state from funding abortions through programs such as the Oregon Health Plan. State employees might also be affected.

The coalition backing the initiative, Oregon Life United, has attempted similar ballot measures before. The measures either have been voted down in elections or have not garnered enough signatures to be put before voters.

Brown said the proposal, which seeks to amend the Oregon Constitution, would disproportionately impact low-income women.

“I see this particular measure as dangerous,” she said. “It won’t happen, not on my watch, and I’m confident we can fight it.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

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