Thursday, January 4, 2018

I'm confused about Measure 101

My confusion is that I don't get why it's any more complicated than the following:

Whereas the 2017 Oregon Legislature passed the bipartisan Healthcare Protections Bill (HB 2391); and

Whereas basic healthcare should be viewed as a human right; and

Whereas 95% of Oregonians and 100% of children currently have access to healthcare in large part because of Medicaid Expansion; and

Whereas the bipartisan Healthcare Protections Bill provides funding to maintain healthcare expansion and obtain matching federal funds; and

Whereas provider assessments are used by 49 states to fund Medicaid, and have the support of healthcare providers and insurers throughout Oregon; and

Whereas without the Healthcare Protections Bill, Oregon could lose up to $320 million in state revenue, and more than $1.3 billion in federal revenue for providing healthcare, resulting in upwards of 350,000 low-income and working Oregonians losing their healthcare; and

Whereas Republican- and extremist-backed efforts have succeeded in qualifying a Referendum vote on major parts of the Healthcare Protections Bill for a January 2018 Special Election; and

Whereas a YES vote on the Referendum will affirm support for the Healthcare Protections Bill; be it therefore

Resolved that I, Pablo Martos, strongly endorse a YES vote on Measure 101 on January 23, 2018.

What you just read was cribbed from the Democratic Party of Oregon's official Resolution 2017-015, changed only to drop mention of the Party, the Party platform statement that Healthcare should be a human right, and to refer to Measure 101 instead of Referendum 301, which is what Measure 101 was originally called. I'm registered as a Democrat, if I haven't mentioned, and an active participant at the local level.

Sorry to be partisan about this, but partisans on one side with weak arguments and lots of foot stamping and some signature gathering are what kicked this to the voters in the first place instead of letting it pass as the bipartisan legislation it was. This Measure will line us up with how 49 other states fund their health care, and LOTS of people you trust are pushing for it to work.

I don't know who in this list you don't trust, but between all the firefighters, teachers, hospitals, nurses, doctors, all pushing for it, and the fact that organizations like Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Health also signed on in support indicating they think they'll be able to weather just fine the horror of a tax existing, I'm pretty convinced just by the list. Seriously, go read it, and consider not how many on the list you may be suspicious of (I don't always trust hospitals or healthcare companies, either), but how many listed organizations are plainly and clearly interested in your personal welfare, or how many you can surmise just signed on because they know it's the right thing to do.

Fine, be suspicious of the SEIU for all I care. But the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters?  You gonna tell me Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and an organization called the Oregon Center for Christian Voices joining with the League of Women Voters and the Working Families Party and the American College of Physicians' Oregon Chapter on this doesn't say something important? It doesn't say something that the Catholic Charities of Oregon and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon are on the same side of this one?

Remember this isn't a huge tax. We're talking about small amounts for a small number of entities, and small impacts possible to a small number of people's premiums. This means that several health care providers and organizations will pay a little extra for the next two years, and some people could see a slight increase in their insurance premiums, in order to keep low-income Oregonians insured.

Opponents of Measure 101 point out that it's a about HOW to pay for Medicaid, not WHETHER to, and then want to nitpick about how until the cows come home. That was the strategy that killed Measure 97, which was and remains desperately needed. They said "this isn't the way to do it, we need to find a better solution, come back to us during the legislative session and we'll work with you and get responsible legislation done," and then they didn't. They continued to stonewall and object and dragged their feet and so we remain unable to fund education, healthcare, and senior services properly. They frame this as taxing health care instead of as providing it.

I know some people may be shocked by this, but not every tax is bad. Taxation is a funding mechanism to provide for the common welfare, and it makes sense, and we've been doing it forever. I feel ridiculous having to state that so plainly, but here we are in 2018 in 45's America. Putting an assessment on hospitals and insurance companies makes sense because in our present, imperfect system, that's where the money is. The Department of Consumer and Business Services figured out that if the entire cost of this assessment were passed directly to citizens this could amount to an overall cost increase of maybe $5 per person per month. For a program that saves us collectively about $25-$30, on average, per person per month. That's worth it to me. I want tax money to go to providing health care to the neediest among us. Full stop.

Measure 101 helps stabilize health insurance rates for all of us by providing people with lower cost preventative care, rather than forcing people to get their healthcare in the emergency room where the costs are paid for by all of our insurance premiums. Measure 101 is clear: premiums cannot increase more than 1.5% as a result of the assessment on insurance companies.  Bottom line is that if we don't pass this, funding for Medicaid will be cut by between $210 and $320 million, resulting in the loss of potentially $5 billion in federal funding. Oregon families who rely on Medicaid – including 400,000 children, seniors and people with disabilities could end up with diminished benefits or without coverage entirely.

There will always be imperfections we'll have to fix later in any legislation, in any funding package. That's not the end of the world. But as a parent whose kids have been in and out of hospitals a LOT, I promise you not passing Measure 101 will be the end of someone's world.

So yeah. I'm confused why anyone doesn't want to vote yes. You should vote yes if you care about your fellow man. Tell your friends to vote yes. If you have it in you to do so, get involved. Opportunities abound, even opportunities focused on dropping slate cards instead of calling or knocking on doors, so no talking to people is even required.

We need you. Vote yes, tell your friends, and come help. I'll see you there.