Oregonians to Vote on Measure 101 in January
The ODA joins over 100 organizations across Oregon endorsing a “Yes” on Ballot Measure 101.
Here’s why: The consequences of the measure failing are too high. The work passed by the Legislature raises about $550 million in revenue over two years, secures $1.9 billion in matching federal funds, maintains coverage for about 350,000 Oregonians for the next biennium, and lowers and/or maintains health care premiums for about 200,000 Oregonians who purchase insurance in the individual market by funding the Oregon Reinsurance Fund.
If Measure 101 fails, the state would have a massive budget hole to fill in the 2018 Legislative Session, likely resulting in services and/or reimbursement rates being cut. Historically, dental benefits are often the first health care benefits reduced or eliminated.
Further, the tax was negotiated with everyone at the table. All major health care players from providers, insurers, to most hospitals are in support of the measure. ODA participated in these discussions and supported the final piece of legislation.
Learn more from the “Yes for Healthcare” campaign.
BACKGROUND & KEY FACTS – MEASURE 101
In the 2017 Legislative Session, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2391 which reinstated an expired 1.5% assessment on premiums, PEBB, and Managed Care Organizations for two years. An additional .7% assessment will be taxed on hospitals (the rate raised from 5% to 6% with all but .7% returning to the insurer through federal Medicaid match). The money raised through these premiums was built into the legislatively approved biennial budget to primarily fill Medicaid budget shortfalls.
Proponents of HB 2391 argue that the law:
- Raises $550 million in revenue over two years[i]
- Secures $1.9 billion in matching federal funds[ii]
- Maintains coverage for about 350,000 Oregonians for the next biennium[iii]
- Lowers and/or maintains health care premiums for about 200,000 Oregonians who purchase insurance in the individual market by funding the Oregon Reinsurance Fund[iv]
- Was negotiated in good faith with insurers at the table, and received Republican votes
Opponents of the HB 2391 argue:
- The tax increase will be passed along to consumers
- The revenue can be made up with cigarette taxes and/or smaller provider taxes
- Agency accountability and creative thinking can find a way to fund needed services
- The 1.5% assessment is a sales tax on health insurance
Special provisions apply to HB 2391
The Oregon Legislature also passed SB 229 which creates special provisions for any referral of HB 2391
- Election to take place January 23, 2018 rather than November 2018
- Justified by the argument that the Legislature used this tax to build the budget. If voters remove tax, then the Legislature will need to adjust budget accordingly in the 2018 Legislative Session.
- Rather than have the Attorney General draft the Ballot Title, SB 229 gives that task to a legislative committee consisting of 4 democrats and 2 republicans.
Referendum 301/Measure 101
Three Republican legislators: Representatives Parrish, Esquivel and Dr. Cedric Hayden filed a referendum (Referendum 301) with the Secretary of State, challenging four provisions of HB 2391.
Status: The measure qualified for the ballot and will be voted upon in January as “Measure 101.”
Certified Ballot title: Provides funds currently budgeted to pay for health care for low income individuals and families and for stabilizing health insurance premiums, using temporary assessments on insurance companies, some hospitals and other providers of health insurance or health care coverage.
Consequences of Election
A vote of “yes” upholds HB 2391
- Maintains current law as drafted in HB 2391
- No changes to budget passed during 2017 Legislative Session
- No changes to Medicaid funding
A “no” vote repeals 5 sections of HB 2391
- New taxes as established in HB 2391 will not take affect
- The biennial budget passed in the 2017 session will have to be reworked with a substantial gap
- State funding for healthcare will be cut by between $210 and $320 million, resulting in the loss of potentially $5 billion in federal funding (per “yes” campaign)
- There are not any easily identifiable solutions to fill in gap
- “Yes” campaign argues that there are two main options for balancing the budget if these sections are repealed:
- Decrease number of enrollees on Medicaid
- Decrease reimbursement rates to providers