Portland, Ore - Oregon approved taxes on hospitals, health insurers and managed care companies in an unusual special election Tuesday that asked voters — and not lawmakers — how to pay for Medicaid costs that now include coverage of hundreds of thousands of low-income residents added to the program’s rolls under the Affordable Care Act.
Measure 101 was passing handily in early returns Tuesday night.
The single-issue election drew national attention to this progressive state, which aggressively expanded its Medicaid rolls under President Barack Obama’s health care reforms.
Oregon now has one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents in the nation at 5 percent. About 1 million Oregonians — 25 percent — now receive health care coverage from Medicaid.
Maine voters recently went to polls to approve the expansion of their Medicaid program, but experts said Oregon was the first state to take the issue of funding that expansion directly to voters.
The taxes are a short-term fix for health care funding that will generate between $210 million and $320 million in revenue over two years.