Is it fair to put the health security of over one million Oregonians at risk without offering any concrete, viable alternative? Definitely not. That is why The Oregonian’s recent editorial seeking to discredit Measure 101 is woefully misguided.
Measure 101 is a milestone toward the goal of everyone in Oregon having health insurance. Oregon has taken strides toward that goal in recent years, due in part to the expansion of the Oregon Health Plan to many thousands of previously uninsured Oregonians.
To protect this progress, Oregon’s challenge was to make up for an expected decrease of federal funds for the Oregon Health Plan. Initially, the federal government was paying 100 percent of the cost for the new expansion group. Now, it is paying 94 percent.
Earlier this year, lawmakers found a solution where responsibility is broadly shared — the very approach The Oregonian editorial board wrongly claims is missing. What does this broadly shared responsibility look like?
- First, the state’s General Fund contributes more.
- Second, the Oregon Health Plan tightens its belt.
- Third, an industry that has seen a boon in business due to health reforms — hospitals, health insurance companies and Coordinated Care Organizations — pay an assessment. These assessments are at the core of Measure 101.
The assessments in Measure 101 themselves are reasonable, being broadly shared. For instance, the insurance assessment applies to multiple groups including commercial insurers, managed care companies, insurers serving Oregon Health Plan enrollees, and insurers serving many public employees.
What’s most misguided — and unfair — in the editorial board’s position is its willingness to risk the health of so many Oregonians without putting forward a concrete, viable solution.
The editors admit that the revenue proposals of Measure 101 opponents may not generate the funds needed to avoid damaging health care for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians.
The editors then criticize Measure 101 for not doing the impossible. They complain the measure leaves out a group of insurance plans from the insurer assessment — self-insured plans. Yet, the editors concede the assertion that federal law constrains insurer assessments from applying to such plans.
More Oregonians now enjoy the protection that health insurance offers, the protection that everyone deserves. A “yes” vote on Measure 101 ensures those protections stay in place. That’s fair. That’s equitable.