If Measure 101 passes, the bill Oregon legislators passed in July - House Bill 2391 – would be protected. That means for the next two years, many insurance companies, hospitals and other health care providers would be taxed between 0.7 and 1.5 percent.
That money would bridge the gap in Medicaid funding, created by a state budget shortfall and federal cuts, to keep low-income residents on the Oregon Health Plan. The tax would be leveraged for more federal Medicaid dollars, so supporters say the couple hundred million raised by the state over two years would ultimately land Oregon as much as $1.3 billion, or more, in state and federal funds. This is not a new idea. Hospitals have been assessed for more than a decade in Oregon to garner more federal money with success.
Supporters of Measure 101 say a “yes” vote means 350,000 low-income Oregonians who are at risk of losing their health insurance due to Medicaid cuts would be able to stay on the Oregon Health Plan. The opposition says that number is a little lower – but either way, at least a couple hundred thousand Oregonians would get to keep their current insurance through the state.
Twenty percent of the tax would also fund what is called a “reinsurance” program, which is basically an insurance program for insurance companies. That pool of money would partially reimburse insurance companies for extremely expensive care, such as neonatal intensive care visits, cancer treatments or catastrophic accidents. The reinsurance program already reduced 2018 insurance rates by 6 percent for individuals who buy insurance on the open market, over what they would have paid otherwise. That’s what supporters of Measure 101 mean when they say that insurance rates are stabilized.