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Oregon affordable health care measure projected to pass

Measure 111 would add a right to affordable health care to the Oregon constitution, though some of the implications are unclear.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon measure that would enshrine access to health care in the state constitution is now projected to pass, The Oregonian reported Tuesday. It's one of several races decided along such a slim margin that it remained too close to call for days following the election.

The health care proposal, Measure 111, makes Oregon the first state in the nation to change its constitution to explicitly declare affordable health care a fundamental human right.

The amendment reads: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”

RELATED: Measure 111 could make Oregon the first state to ensure health care access for all

It does not define “cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable,” nor does it say who would foot the bill. It does say that health care cannot be funded at the expense of education and other essential services.

The Oregon Health Authority says 94% of Oregonians currently have insurance coverage and more are eligible for the Oregon Medicaid plan or a subsidy to reduce the cost of commercial insurance.

Opponents have said the amendment could trigger legal and political challenges when it becomes law.

Another initiative projected to pass along a slim margin this election, Measure 114, requires residents to obtain a permit to purchase a gun, bans large-capacity magazines over 10 rounds except in some circumstances and creates a statewide firearms database.

The Oregonian called Measure 114 last Wednesday in spite of the close race.

To qualify for a permit, an applicant would need to complete an approved, in-person firearm safety course, pay a fee, provide personal information, submit to fingerprinting and photographing and pass a federal criminal background check. The permits would be processed by local police chiefs, county sheriffs or their designees.

RELATED: Linn County Sheriff says she won't enforce Measure 114's ban on high-capacity magazines

The ban on large-capacity magazines would not apply to current owners, law enforcement or the military.

Proponents of the measure say it would reduce suicides — which account for 82% of gun deaths in the state — mass shootings and other gun violence.

Opponents, including the left-wing Socialist Rifle Association, say it would infringe on constitutionally protected rights and could reduce gun access among marginalized communities and people of color if law enforcement agencies are the arbiters of the permitting process. They also say permitting fees and the cost of the firearms course could also be barriers to access.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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