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Kitzhaber: I’m running for Governor of Oregon to help make Americans healthier

My name is John Kitzhaber. Before serving two terms as Oregon’s governor I was an emergency room doctor. I’d like to take a moment of your time to talk about health care.

As the national debate health care reform debate intensifies, it is important to remember the objective here is not just to finance and deliver medical care – the objective is to improve the health of Americans. And to date the congressional debate has been focused largely on insurance reform rather than on health care reform.

We certainly need insurance reform – and all Americans need financial access to the health care system. But the cost of health insurance is ultimately a reflection of the underlying cost of health care and unless we can reduce the cost of health care itself we will fail to solve this problem.

From my experience as an ER doctor and as a governor it is clear to me that the real problem here is not how we pay for health care but rather what we are buying; how that care in organized and delivered; and what relationship that has to health. Simply reforming the insurance system, while important, will neither reduce cost nor make people healthier.

I spoke with National Public Radio about this problem last week. Read more and listen to the story at

While you may not be lucky enough to live in Oregon, you should care about what happens here – in our election next year for Governor, and beyond.

Oregon has always been a national leader in health care innovation. As the author of the groundbreaking Oregon Health Plan, I’m running for Governor again in part because I know that Oregon can and will face up to the challenge of fundamentally reforming the health care delivery system which is crucial if we hope to reduce cost and improve the health of Americans.

Our federalist system encourages states to be the “laboratories of democracy,” trying and testing innovative solutions. Whatever the results of the current health care debate in Congress, America is going to need innovation and new thinking from the states to solve this most critical challenge.

I hope you’ll connect with my campaign and keep an eye an Oregon. We’re ready to lead the way on health reform, and I would like you to be a part of it.

Dr. John Kitzhaber was Governor of Oregon from 1995 to 2003. Visit to learn more and get involved – and connect via Facebook and Twitter.