During the first week of January 2018 you should receive a ballot asking you to approve or reject Measure 101, which levies fees on insurance companies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers, allowing the state to continue providing healthcare to more than 10 percent of Oregonians. You will have until January 23 to cast your vote. We urge you to vote YES! Below are answers to common questions about Measure 101.
Q: What is Measure 101?
A: Measure 101 places fees on for-profit healthcare providers in order to raise sufficient funds to provide coverage for the Oregon health plan. The providers have agreed to these costs.
Q: Who will benefit if Measure 101 passes in the January special election?
A: More than 400,000 Oregon children depend on the Oregon Plan. Measure 101 ensures funds are available so they will continue to receive coverage. Further, an additional one million Oregonians use the Oregon Health Plan at some point during the year. Measure 101 will stabilize healthcare costs by lowering premiums, by up to $300 per year, for Oregonians who buy their own health insurance.
Q: What would change if the measure does not pass?
A: Without the funds that Measure 101 would provide, Medicaid could be cut by up to $320 million. Because the federal government matches what we raise here in Oregon, the state could potentially lose some $5 billion in federal funding. Oregon families who rely on Medicaid — including children, seniors, and people with disabilities — would risk losing all their healthcare benefits.
Q: Can’t the funds that Measure 101 provides be found elsewhere in the state budget?
A: Potentially, yes, but that would require severe cuts in other funded programs or essential services.
Q: Will this measure cause my premiums to increase?
A: Measure 101 clearly states that premiums cannot increase more than 1.5percent as a result of the assessment on insurance companies and other healthcare providers. In fact, the measure actually helps stabilize health insurance rates for all of us because it allows Oregonians to easily access preventative care. That means they do not have to resort to seeking help in emergency facilities, where the high cost of treatment is paid for by all of us, via our insurance premiums.
Q: How does Measure 101 affect people who buy their own insurance?
A: Measure 101 includes funding for a state reinsurance program, which protects consumers from carrying the cost of covering people who have serious health conditions. The reinsurance program lowers premiums for people who buy their own insurance by an average of $300 annually. So if Measure 101 does not pass, rates will likely increase for about 210,000 Oregonians.
Q: Will Measure 101 help or hurt single-payer options for the future?
A: By stabilizing insurance marketplaces in Oregon and by helping millions of Oregonians to keep their health insurance, Measure 101 sets the stage for a single-payer system. So the measure is a solid step forward toward single payer in Oregon.
Q: Who is behind the effort to defeat Measure 101?
A: Three Republican state representatives, Julie Parrish of West Linn, Sal Esquivel of Medford, and Cedric Hayden of Roseburg, organized an effort to gather nearly 85,000 signatures, enough to force a vote.
Q: Who is in favor?
A: Virtually every Democrat in the Legislature supports the measure. They are joined by a long list of non-profit health groups, public employee unions, medical groups, and of course, your own Clackamas County Democrats.
For a list of supporters and opponents, click here (ballotpedia.org).
Q: Why is the election in January?
A: Usually when enough signatures are gathered to force a vote, the measures goes on the next general election ballot, which in this case would mean waiting until November 2018. But Democrats in the state Legislature successfully argued that if the fee assessment was rejected, it would cause a huge hole in the state’s healthcare budget, which would be so serious and adversely affect so many Oregonians, that the vote should take place as soon as possible. The Legislature will come into session for five weeks starting in early February, so a late-January vote will allow them to act quickly, if needed.
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure are hoping that with the vote scheduled in January, turnout will be low, increasing chances the measure will be defeated.
Q: Do any other states use provider assessments to fund healthcare?
A: Yes. Similar provider assessments are used in 49 states to access federal support for healthcare. The assessments are a federally approved path to providing healthcare coverage to the most vulnerable populations.
Q: What can I do to help ensure the measure is passed?
A: Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors to make sure they are aware of how important it is that they join you in voting YES for Measure 101 in January. Between now and January 23, consider adding a line at the end of your emails to fellow Oregonians, urging them to vote yes, with a link to this webpage.
Also consider signing up for the Neighborhood Leader program by filling in this form. We need your voice and your help!