By Representative Rob Nosse
Lately it feels like the campaign season never ends, and we never get a break from politics. Didn’t we just vote in November to support funding for Portland Community College? We did, but now we are only a couple of weeks away from the next election. This time, it’s a special election on one topic – Ballot Measure 101, also known as the Yes for Healthcare campaign. I am strongly in favor of passing this ballot measure, and I hope readers of this paper will join me in voting yes.
Here is how we got here: In the 2017 legislative session, we passed three important healthcare bills. Two of those, Cover all Kids and the Reproductive Health Equity Act, passed in spite of contentious floor debates. The third bill, HB 2391, created a fee structure for hospitals in order to raise money and draw down federal matching dollars to fund the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid program. That bill, while contentious, passed with bipartisan support.
It was supported by nurses, unions, doctors, patients, insurance companies, and the very hospitals that would have to pay these fees. Unfortunately, when the session ended, a couple of legislators who did not like the bill started a signature campaign. They collected enough signatures to refer HB 2391 to the ballot, and now we have Ballot Measure 101.
Here is why I am a strong YES on Ballot Measure 101. This ballot measure will protect the health coverage of 1 in 4 Oregonians, over one million people, including children, people with disabilities, and the elderly who are covered by Medicaid. Nobody should have to go without health coverage because they are poor and can’t afford a monthly premium, and that is what passing Ballot Measure 101 will insure.
Who is opposing this measure? Republican State Representative Julie Parrish. She is spearheading the campaign along with her political consulting firm. This means she gets paid to run a campaign that could strip financially vulnerable Oregonians of their healthcare. Helping her is the Oregon Firearm Federation, a group that thinks the NRA is too liberal; Oregonians for Immigration Reform, an anti-immigration organization; and the Oregon Family Council, an anti-gay marriage group.
Over the past year we’ve seen attempts at the federal level to repeal healthcare without a replacement, and citizens across the country spoke out against it. In my mind this is a state-based version. It’s disappointing to see Rep Parrish and these groups try that here; hurting vulnerable Oregonians by defunding their healthcare. If Measure 101 fails, we will see dramatic cuts to healthcare services for low-income Oregonians, and that is unacceptable.
In spite of Rep Parrish’s efforts, I know we are not the type of state that wants to deprive our most vulnerable residents of access to basic health services.
Election Day is January 23, so make sure to mail your ballots as soon as they arrive, or drop them at a drop site Learn more about the measure at yesforhealthcare.org.
Depending on when you’ve picked up your copy of The Southeast Examiner, there may still be time to get involved and raise awareness of this very important election.
I hope you will, because a lot of Oregonians are counting on us.