Many are vehement about passing Measure 101. What’s said? It protects health care for 25 percent of Oregonians, including seniors and kids. Oregon collects $300 million through a temporary assessment on health care that does not increase anyone's costs. Unfortunately, this is mostly hype.

Does 101 affect seniors? No – they’re covered by Medicare, not Medicaid. Is 101 a tax? Oregon would take 1.5 percent of insurance company sales, allowing them to charge 1.5 percent more. How many companies will absorb a tax, excuse me, an assessment, rather than pass it on? I cannot think of one. A sales tax is so defined. Is 101 temporary? It was a temporary tax covering kids’ health care that expired, but here it is again. 101 ensures “again” may be “again” forever. Will those assessed this tax, including schools, independent college students, and public employees, actually save money? I doubt it, but they’d still get 1.5 percent less than everyone else. Any other “volunteers”?

The kicker: If 101 doesn't pass, with so much federal money at stake (about three times what Oregon contributes), state legislators will surely find the money -- raid the general fund, make significant cuts in programs, cut benefits or raise premiums on low-income beneficiaries.

Thus, a vote for 101 means health care taxes on some medium income folks to subsidize health care for low-income folks, with the feds kicking in three times as much. A vote against 101 means state legislators will make deep cuts to some cherished programs to continue these subsidies. Let’s vote on reality, not hype.

John Sarna

Philomath (Jan. 9)


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