On Jan. 23, voters will decide Measure 101, a package of health care taxes the 2017 Legislature passed to fund Medicaid. If voters say "yes," the taxes will remain. If they vote "no," some of the taxes will be repealed, potentially tossing thousands of Oregonians from the Medicaid rolls. (WW endorses a "yes" vote.)
Opponents of the measure have hammered away at two points: The taxes are unfair, and we don't need the money.
We took a look at both claims.
Claim: "Big corporations get all the breaks. They have fancy lobbyists negotiating ways for them to avoid taxes." —Voters' Pamphlet statement by the "no" campaign.
Fact: This claim is misleading. Large, self-insured companies, such as Nike and Intel, are indeed exempt from new health care insurance taxes underlying Measure 101. But that's not because slick lobbyists bought off Oregon lawmakers. It's because of federal law. "Because self-insured plans are not purchased from an insurance carrier licensed by the state, they are exempt from state requirements and subject only to federal regulation," explains a brief from the National Council of State Legislatures. So it's not a matter of influence but the law.
Claim: "As eligibility continues to decline, it means we'll need less state revenue for Medicaid."—State Reps. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) and Cedric Hayden (R-Roseburg) in a Dec. 29 Salem Statesman Journal op-ed.
Fact: Again, that's misleading. Over the past year, the total number of Oregon Medicaid patients did decline by about 38,000, to 1,050,000. But the state budget is based on a patient forecast, and that forecast predicted a modest decline. In fact, the Medicaid caseload actually exceeded projections by about an average of 20,000 patients per month for the past year, according to Oregon Health Authority figures. If the trend continues, we may need slightly more money than lawmakers projected.
Ballots for Measure 101 are due Jan. 23.