Vote Yes on Measure 101!
In the next few days, Oregon voters will get a ballot that essentially asks us to decide whether the state should keep the Oregon Health Plan.
More than one in four Harney County residents—2147 adults and children-- are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). Many of us, our friends, our neighbors, our children's classmates, stand to lose their health care through OHP if Measure 101 is not approved. Many people on OHP have jobs but can't afford insurance. Others are physically or mentally disabled, seniors, or laid off and can't find a job.
Last July, a 3/5 supermajority of the Oregon Legislature voted to meet the state's shortfall for OHP funding by assessments on our larger hospitals, managed care organizations, and insurance companies. Without the assessments, 350,000 Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan would likely lose coverage, unless the legislature quickly comes up with another way to raise the money, like cutting education, police and public services.
These assessments are now law, but three legislators, Julie Parrish, Cedric Hayden and Sal Esquivel, moved to defeat the plan by referring it to voters as Measure 101, which asks voters to approve what was already approved by the legislature.
Measure 101 is confusing because its backers want it to fail. They are counting on Oregonians' knee-jerk reaction against “taxes” and disapproval of “freeloaders” to defeat Measure 101.
Measure 101 does a lot of good for little expense. It assesses hospitals and managed care organizations 0.7% of net profits. That's $7 on $1000. Rural hospitals like ours are exempt! It assesses insurance companies 1.5%. That's $15 on $1000. The measure states that insurance companies may not raise premiums more than 1.5%.
The measure would raise $210 to $320 million, which the state would use as part of the matching money needed to leverage as much as $5 billion from the federal government to pay for the Oregon Health Plan.
Without the Oregon Health Plan, many Oregonians would be unable to pay for health care, putting off medical problems until they become serious enough to go to the emergency room. Their unpaid bills would be passed on to insured people in the form of higher bills and higher insurance premiums.
The measure also puts money into a fund that partially compensates insurance companies for huge bills, like those for treating cancer or burns. This would keep insurance bills as much as 6% lower.
Measure 101 would lower the cost of insurance for the 210,000 Oregonians buying non-group insurance by an average $300 a year. Measure 101 also assures that every county in Oregon has at least one insurance plan available to buy.
A vote for Measure 101 is a win for all of us and the right thing to do. Vote YES on Measure 101!
Edie and Steven Koenig
Dick and Cherry Day
Gene and Pat Luttmann
This piece by Edie Koenig appeared in the Burns Times Herald, January 3, 2018.