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Debate heats up surrounding Oregon Meas. 101 on hospital, healthcare provider tax

Photo courtesy MGN Online

Oregon voters will be deciding on Measure 101 this January; a bill that would repeal a tax on health care providers and could impact coverage for hundreds of thousands of residents.

If passed, the measure will influence $1 billion or more in state and federal funds. It would also influence the current budget shortfall in funding and federal cuts facing the Medicaid program, which provides health insurance for low-income residents.

Supporters held rallies Sunday morning in three Oregon cities, including Portland. They say without this measure, one in four Oregonians on Medicaid would see a reduction in coverage.

“Everyone deserves access to healthcare they can afford and Measure 101 is a big step to making sure everyone can have affordable healthcare,” said Hannah Love, campaign manager for Yes for Healthcare, Yes for Campaign 101.

Love said they're also worried about keeping insurance rates stable for everyone else. They say that by providing everyone coverage it will decrease the number of uninsured patients who rack up costly emergency room visits.

Oregon Rep. Julie Parish has led the fight against the measure and has pushed for the opportunity for Oregonians to vote on it.

She says the tax won't hit big companies and hospitals as much as it will small businesses.

“It's going to hit the smallest businesses,” Parish said. “Besides the mom and pop coffee shop that's trying to provide healthcare for folks and nonprofits and even your local church - if they're in the small insurance market."

Under the bill, small groups buying health insurance will likely see a 1.5 percent increase since insurance companies can pass the tax to them.

Parish also says the money raised from the taxes can be spent on things other than healthcare.

Voters will get to decide the future of measure 101 on Jan. 23.

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