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Measure 101 stirs debate about health care funding

Funding for Medicaid hanging in the balance

Measure 101 stirs much debate

BEND, Ore. - Measure 101 is, in broad terms, a way for Oregon to pay for Medicaid for the next two years.

The state has an agreement with the federal government that has more than 90 percent of the money for Medicaid coming from Washington, D.C., but the number decreases every year through 2020.

Opponents don't like that under the lawmakers' plans, Medicaid money is coming from places such as hospitals and school districts, and suggest greater taxes on the tobacco industry as an alternative.

"For me, this is not about whether or not we should fund Medicaid, it's about how we fund Medicaid," District 37 Rep. Julie Parrish said Thursday after a live half-hour debate on KTVZ. "There were alternative solutions. there are other ways to look at these dollars."

But supporters of Measure 101 say it would not be enough to put heavier taxes on tobacco, so there needs to be other sources for that Medicaid money.

Thousands of Oregonians gained health insurance after the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed, and Measure 101's supporters say this is another step toward universal health care in the state.

"Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Oregon was at 84 percent health care coverage," District 37 Rep. Andrea Salinas said. "We are at 95 percent coverage today, and this is one piece of financing for Medicaid that helps us achieve that."

Voting on the bill ends Jan. 23, a date Measure 101 opponents say was unfairly chosen.

"Had the Legislature not rigged this to a January election, we could have had until November, which is the normal time for a referendum, a much longer time to actually educate voters about all the different solutions," Parrish said.

But supporters argue it was necessary to move the election up to make budgeting of any shortfalls possible during the Legislature's "short session" in February.

"We've already started this budget cycle, so we have to have a vote in January," Salinas said. "If this measure does not pass, we will need to figure out where to make cuts."

Here’s the online Voters’ Pamphlet on the measure: http://oregonvotes.gov/voters-guide/english/

Here is the supporters’ Website: http://yesforhealthcare.org/

Here is the opponents’ Website: http://stophealthcaretaxes.com/


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