By Jared Preble
The Clackamas Print
As of Jan. 24, Measure 101 has taken effect with a large margin of those in favor. For some, they can kick back and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their health care is covered for the next few years. For others, a headache brews in preparation for the strife this bill might inflict on the citizens of Oregon.
Today, Oregon is staring down a billion-dollar hole that it needs to fill if it wants to keep its high percentage of insured citizens. That’s where Measure 101 kicks in.
This all started back in March 2010, when former President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act. This is the primary reason why the number of Oregonians that have some form of health care package has risen so greatly.
Now, roughly one in four Oregonians have some form of health care. This is because Oregon is one of the 33 states that chose to expand Medicaid back in 2013. The Oregon Health Plan is Oregon’s Medicaid program. Part of the deal with the plan was that the government would pay slightly less of the large health care bill, meaning the states that expanded their individual plans would have to pay slightly more of the percentage left unpaid by the government each year until 2019.
Last year, a bill was passed that would get Oregonians the money they needed. The bill states that health care providers as well as a number of insurance policies will have an added tax. Hospitals would pay 0.7 percent of their revenue while insurers and other providers would have to pay 1.5 percent.
The tax would last until 2019 after which Oregon would have to find the money all over again. But to some, a temporary fix is better than none. Hundreds of organizations, even those who would have to pay the tax, saw sense in the bill and agreed to follow suit.
Shortly after the bill passed, a small party of Republicans objected to the bill and asked for a petition in order to ensure that this was what the voters wanted. Thus, the special election for Measure 101 took place though plenty that are opposed to the bill.
Sandra Breuer is an intake specialist with the Clackamas County Housing Authority. She said that Measure 101 will only raise the cost of health care.
“Eventually, sooner, rather than later, it’ll increase the costs of the plans and services, while simultaneously decreasing the availability of services for these low-income demographics,” said Breuer.
She also believes that those that imposed this bill fell short in considering how this would impact those purchasing health care.
“The legislators that proposed this bill are fiscally irresponsible and they’re placing their irresponsibility on health care professionals who have no way to maintain a healthy profit margin without raising the cost of care for these low income people and families, who the bill was supposed to help in the first place,” said Breuer.
Regardless of the implications that the bill might have, there are still a large number of those that are happy with their health care going relatively untouched. A survey of CCC students was conducted shortly after the bill passed regarding their thoughts on the issues resolution. Of the 70 students and faculty surveyed, 47 percent said they were very pleased with the outcome while 35 percent were only somewhat pleased with its passing. Only 4.3 percent of students surveyed said that they were not at all pleased, with the outcome.
According to Preston Drews, a Clackamas Community College student that stays involved with local politics, he felt that the marketing for Measure 101 was misleading and biased.
“The media’s portrayal of Measure 101 was one sided,” said Drews “It solely displayed the positive side of the measure, but everyone ignored the negative outcomes that will result in direct conjunction with 101’s passing. Those commercials are irresponsible, (thought it is our responsibility, as voters to research these things and stay informed,) and don’t represent both sides of the coin.”
Now, the only option for most Oregonians is to wait and see how this plays out. If the bill runs its course without stepping on too many feet it might return to finish out the pay cycle. If the general consensus is negative, then lawmakers will have to find an alternative way to get the money Oregon needs for its health care budget. Either way, Oregonians must unify to ensure that its citizens stay in good health.
Victoria Durling contributed to this story