This past December, the Lane Community College board of directors endorsed Measure 101, a bill to maintain the special taxes on hospitals, insurers and coordinated care organizers to help fund Medicaid in Oregon. The Oregon branch of Medicaid, known as the Oregon Health Plan, covers approximately a million people, including 400,000 children.
Last year was the first year in which federal dollars did not make up all of the funding for the expanded Medicaid program catalyzed by the Affordable Care Act. In an attempt to maintain the current Medicaid program, Democrats in the Oregon Legislature pushed a bill that would temporarily maintain funding for the expanded program by allowing the levying of special taxes on hospitals, insurers and coordinated care organizers.
Oregon Republicans Julie Parish, Cedric Hayden and Sal Esquivel pushed back on the legislation by forcing it to a public vote, letting voters decide on parts of the bill. This is why Measure 101 is now on the ballot for the Jan. 23 Oregon special election.
According to proponents for Measure 101, the special taxes that are enforced under the law not only help to provide funding for Oregon’s Medicaid program, but also to keep health care prices down. In an Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services report, it is estimated that the current expanded Medicaid program is keeping individual health insurance rates six percent lower than they would be pre-ACA.
The LCC board of directors unanimously voted to endorse Measure 101 on Dec. 12, citing concerns about Lane students losing insurance as well as the impact that Medicaid budget cuts will have on other budgets in the state.
“Oregon’s public schools have been on a financial starvation diet for too long,” LCC Board Chair Rosie Pryor stated. “Last year we had to close a $10 million gap in LCC’s budget. If Measure 101 fails, it’s estimated that over 350,000 Oregonians could lose their access to health care. But it will also have a domino effect on other budgets—including Lane’s.