When the Senate failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week, millions of Americans breathed a sigh of relief. But here in Oregon, the threat is far from over: Rep. Julie Parrish and local Republicans are attempting to rollback the Oregon Healthcare Protections Bill, which safeguards coverage for 350,000 low-income Oregonians and reduces premiums for another 220,000.
We knew Parrish’s Referendum 301 was bad, but a Portland Business Journal story just showed that it’s even worse than we feared. Not only would the referendum eliminate more than $300 million in state funding, but billions in matching federal dollars that Oregon uses to cover its Medicaid population would also disappear.
Just how much are we talking about? According to the Portland Business Journal story, anywhere from $1 billion to $5 billion.
The referendum to repeal new health provider taxes— should it both go on the ballot and pass — could have a bigger impact on the Oregon Health Plan than first meets the eye.
While just cutting the taxes would reduce state revenue by $333 million, the total loss could be anywhere from $1.3 billion to $5.2 billion because of the elimination of federal matching funds, according to various estimates.
With billions in healthcare funding on the line, it’s clear that Referendum 301 would devastate Oregon families. But it doesn’t have to be that way: If Republicans drop this attack, Oregon can continue leading the way on healthcare.
Just this week, the Huffington Post took note of the smart healthcare policies the legislature passed this session: expanding reproductive care coverage, ensuring all children have healthcare access, and protecting Medicaid for hundreds of thousands of families.
The state’s lawmakers there just wrapped up their legislative session and passed health care laws that fly in the face of what is happening in the nation’s capital. While Congress was threatening people’s health care, Oregon passed a law that gives coverage to just about everyone, regardless of income level, citizenship status, gender identity or type of insurance.
The local GOP has a choice: Oregon can either make headlines for taking healthcare away from hundreds of thousands, or for improving healthcare access and protecting families. The choice is clear.