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Nino Paoli/The Observer

Wyden talks broadband support, health care concerns


By Nino Paoli

Published on 6/27/23

LA GRANDE — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden was met with criticisms and praise during a town hall at the Blue Mountain Conference Center on Monday, June 26.

The town hall was the Oregon Democrat’s second to last stop in a tour of the seven Eastern Oregon counties, which began in Malheur County on June 23 — and the 1,058th town hall during his time as an Oregon senator — where he detailed the “biggest amount ever” $700 million in federal funding to expand rural broadband in Oregon, before responding to public comments.

“The $700 million will be administered through Oregon’s Broadband Office. It makes it a priority to go to the unserved communities,” Wyden said. “I want you to know, this is not a situation where somebody in the Senate goes and gets the money and then calls it a day. I’m gonna be watchdogging this money every step of the way.”

Despite being thanked for his work in increasing federal protections of the Owyhee River and Canyonlands and securing $2 million for Union County Emergency Services for its Union County Radio System Upgrade Project in 2022, and his work this year to stress the importance of tourism in Oregon, community members voiced their health care concerns to Wyden as well.

Universal health care concerns


Though Teresa Smith-Dixon, a retired clinical social worker is “celebrating” Oregon’s steps toward universal health care, she and other individuals at the town hall spoke out against Medicare privatization and high deductibles.

“We got to get the corporations out of our way between us and our doctors. We really have to do something about health care now. You’ve put it off, and I talked to you last time you were here,” Smith-Dixon said. “We really need to look at these Medicare Advantage plans. We need to look at Medicare For All. And I’m asking you again, to think about that, please.”

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

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