In the 1980s, Oregon was one of a handful of “states that could not wait” for national health care reform. Oregon's chosen approach to reform was predicated on two widely accepted assumptions. First, universal access to health care is best achieved by universal access to health insurance. Second, universal access to health care could best be achieved, at least politically, by incrementally building upon the existing health care delivery and insurance system. This article questions both of these assumptions in light of Oregon's decade-long experience in trying to expand access to health care among its dependent population.