Healthcare Industry Spends to Support Healthcare Taxes

The state’s leading unions and several top healthcare companies, including Legacy Health and PacificSource, are out-raising opponents of Measure 101.

The healthcare industry is cutting the big checks in support of a ballot measure that would impose taxes on themselves -- highlighting the irony of the vote on Measure 101 this January.

Hospitals and insurers are joined by the state’s most powerful organized labor groups in hoping to beat back a Republican attempt to derail the funding package to maintain the Medicaid expansion in Oregon, which helped insure an additional 350,000 poor citizens.

Proponents of Measure 101 -- Yes for Healthcare -- have raised just over $250,000, led by $25,000 each from PacificSource Health Plans, Legacy Health, Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc., and the Oregon chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems was next with $10,765 in cash and in-kind contributions, followed by 12 organizations putting up an even $10,000 each:

  • School Employees Exercising Democracy
  • American Federation of Teachers -- Oregon
  • Oregon Education Association
  • Willamette Dental Management Corp.
  • PeaceHealth
  • Kaiser Permanente Financial Services Operations
  • Oregon American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • Nurses United Political Action Committee
  • CareOregon
  • Oregon Health Care Association
  • SEIU Local 503
  • Coalition for a Healthy Oregon

Smaller donations came from the Oregon Dental Association’s PAC, Planned Parenthood, Northwest Health Foundation and individual coordinated care organizations, including Columbia Pacific and Jackson Care Connect.

The long list of players willing to shell out cash in support of Measure 101 are all a part of the coalition that COHO president Phil Greenhill told The Lund Report he was helping to assemble in October.

A group of House Republicans opposed to the more than $500 million in taxes forced the issue onto the Jan. 23 ballot after it had passed with bipartisan support in the Legislature, including both the former and current leaders of the Senate Republican Caucus -- Sen. Ted Ferrioli of John Day and Sen. Jackie Winters of Salem.

The tax package increases the hospital assessment and restores and expands taxes on health insurance that had been phased out. But most of the companies that would have to pay those taxes have fiercely opposed the partisan ballot measure because the taxes it raises in Oregon will draw more than twice as much in matching funds from the federal government to operate the state Medicaid program. The money will also be used to stabilize the individual health insurance market.

The Republicans wishing to sabotage that agreement with the ballot vote argue that the state is taxing the wrong things, including the health insurance of small businesses, and say they will support a more limited tax package, including a small increase in cigarette taxes, if Measure 101 fails. The insurance tax specifically raises health insurance premiums for small businesses by $5 a month per covered life while a reinsurance program the state is implementing with the tax lowers individual health insurance premiums $25 a month.

The Measure 101 campaign has also been plagued by a drumbeat of revelations of mismanagement at the Oregon Health Authority, which took an added hit by the release of a new audit from Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson today.

The measure’s opponents have reported just $32,000 for their political action committee, Stop Healthcare Taxes, the bulk of it funnelled through a second PAC, All 36, which is operated by Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Cottage Grove.

Hayden has lent his committee $55,000 and also collected $50,000 from Norman McDougal, an investor in timber land, and $15,500 from Andrew Miller, the owner of Stimson Lumber and a prolific funder of Republican campaigns. All told, All 36 reported $131,000 in contributions dating back to its creation in July.

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