Oregon voters to decide the fate of Meas. 101

Measure 101 KATU image.jpg

Oregon voters will be deciding on Measure 101 later this month; a bill that would repeal a tax on health care providers and could impact coverage for hundreds of thousands of residents.

Ballots for the measure went out on Wednesday.

If passed, the measure will impact at least $1 billion in state and federal funds. It would also influence the state’s current budget shortfall in funding and federal cuts facing the Medicaid program, which provides health insurance for low-income residents.

Oregon Rep. Julie Parish has led the fight against the measure and has pushed for the opportunity for Oregonians to vote on it.

She says the tax won't hit big companies and hospitals as much as it will small businesses.

"Did we fund this in an equitable manor when you are asking the smallest of the small business, non-profits, and college students to foot the bill? While you left some of these other organizations, like unions, who don’t have to pay a dime," Parrish said.

Under the bill, small groups buying health insurance will likely see a 1.5 percent increase since insurance companies can pass the tax to them. Parish also says the money raised from the taxes can be spent on things other than healthcare.

Supporters tell KATU News that without this measure, one in four Oregonians on Medicaid would see a reduction in coverage.

They're also worried about keeping insurance rates stable for everyone else. They say that by providing everyone coverage it will decrease the number of uninsured patients who rack up costly emergency room visits.

Another big concern for Measure 101 supporters like Rachel Solotaroff, the CEO Central City Concern, is what happens to beneficial programs.

"Without that Medicaid coverage, that treatment goes away and all those improvements for those people and the community get rolled back," Solotaroff said.

Which ultimately, she says, could affect all of Oregon.

"Not only do we see improved health for those individuals we don’t see them in our jails in our emergency rooms and we don’t see them on the street," Solotaroff said.

Voters will get to decide the future of measure 101 on Jan. 23.

No matter what the outcome, this is not the end of the conversation. If the measure doesn't pass, lawmakers will have to find that money elsewhere in the February session. If the measure is approved, it will expire in 2 years and lawmakers again will have to find the money.

The League of Women Voters of Portland is holding a special election forum on Ballot Measure 101 on Tuesday, January 9 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Multnomah County Board Room.

Below is our "Your Voice, Your Vote" special dedicated to the Measure 101 debate:

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