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Oregon: Other Ways To Fund Health Coverage Expansion After Tobacco Tax Measure Fails

Armen Hareyan's picture

Oregon legislators are now "back to square one in their quest to makehealth care affordable for all Oregonians" after voters on Tuesday rejecteda ballot measure that would have increased the state's tobacco tax topay for health care for more than 90,000 uninsured children and about10,000 uninsured adults, the Oregonian reports. The measure would have generated about $147 million in fiscal year 2008-09 and $208 million in FY 2009-11.

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According to the Oregonian,legislators had no back-up plan for the measure, which failed by a59%-41% vote. However, a seven-member panel is drafting legislation for2009 that would expand coverage for the uninsured. According to the Oregonian,Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and legislative leaders said there is notenough time to address the issue in February 2008 during a four-weeklegislative session.

State lawmakers this fiscal year allocated enough funds to expand coverage in the Oregon Health Planto about 9,000 additional state residents, and Jean Phillips, deputyadministrator for the state division of medical assistance programs,said the state will focus its efforts on covering adults with children.State Rep. Gene Whisnant (R) said the state Legislature should focus onenrolling uninsured children who already qualify for health careprograms.

According to Phillips, the state was planning to usefunds from Measure 50 to launch media and informational campaigns aimedat an estimated 60,000 uninsured, eligible children in state healthprograms, but now the state does not have enough money to conduct such"aggressive outreach" (Har/Cole, Oregonian, 11/8).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.