Senate health care bill would triple Oregon's uninsured rate, report finds

PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would cause 440,000 Oregonians to lose health insurance coverage, tripling the state’s uninsured rate, by as early as 2021, according to an analysis by state health and consumer experts.

Senate leaders delayed a vote on their health care bill until after the July 4 recess after it lacked the votes to pass. Several Republicans announced they could not support the current version of the bill.

An analysis of the bill by the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Consumer and Business Services says state taxpayers and the budget would face a $6.2-billion cost-shift from 2020 to 2026 due to Medicaid cuts and the phasing out of Medicaid expansion, both key parts of the Senate bill.

The cuts to Medicaid would also eliminate an estimated 23,000 health care jobs in Oregon by 2026.

Medicaid provides health coverage to low-income families and people with disabilities. It currently covers one in four Oregonians through the Oregon Health Plan.

Eliminating Medicaid expansion would hinder Oregon’s effort to fight addiction to prescription opioids. According to the report, the bill “would put access to treatment for people addicted to prescription opioids at risk for low-income working Oregonians.”

The Senate bill contains $2 billion in 2018 funding to stem the opioid crisis nationwide.

Some Oregonians would benefit from the Senate bill if it passes. The state report says the bill would reduce health insurance costs for young people and cut taxes for Oregon’s highest income earners.

“The Senate bill is a budget reconciliation bill. It prioritizes budget and tax reductions over rates of health coverage, health outcomes, or health care quality for consumers,” the report said.

Older Oregonians would not benefit from lower health care costs, however. They would pay more on the individual commercial market. Everyone would face higher average copays and deductibles than they currently pay under the Affordable Care Act, the Oregon Health Authority said.

Oregon’s current uninsured rate is five percent. That rate could triple to 15 percent by 2021 if the bill becomes law, according to the report.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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