It’s OK to vote “no” on Measure 101 on the January ballot. The tax is not fair. And voting “no” doesn’t mean anyone loses health care. Voting “no” just stops taxes that should be stopped.
The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2391 last year. It was a temporary measure to provide funding to the state’s Medicaid system. In Oregon, Medicaid is run through the Oregon Health Plan. It’s basically health care for the poor. It’s an important service, and both supporters and opponents of Measure 101 don’t want to kick anyone off.
Measure 101 says no to part of the way HB 2391 pays for the Oregon Health Plan. If Measure 101 passes, only some people have to pay a tax. That is not fair.
Small businesses, school districts, nonprofits and college students would have to pay a 1.5 percent tax on health care premiums. But employers that are large enough and have self-insured plans, which includes more than 700,000 Oregonians, don’t have to pay the tax. The tax hands an advantage to big businesses.
Why is it fair to raise costs for schools and small business but not for big businesses? It’s not.
Hospitals also have to pay a 0.7 percent tax under the proposal. And Oregon hospitals support paying the tax and want you to support Measure 101. Part of the reason is they want to provide health care, and House Bill 2391’s funding plan provides some certainty that they will continue to be able to do so.
But the taxes hospitals pay for Medicaid are a shell game. Basically, the more taxes hospitals pay, the more money they get back for Medicaid from the federal government. If you could get more money from the federal government every time you paid more in taxes, wouldn’t you want to pay more taxes, too?
Again and again, supporters of Measure 101 have said the failure of Measure 101 will mean the state will have to throw people off Medicaid. St. Charles CEO Joseph Sluka made that very argument to The Bulletin’s editorial board. It’s a scare tactic, and is not accurate. There is risk in voting “no.” If Measure 101 fails, the Legislature would have to go to work in the February session and find a new way to plug the needed funding. But Oregonians should say no to an unfair tax and demand the Legislature find a more fair way.