Oregon Health Authority Reports Budget Shortfall, with Some Funds Lost Due to Measure 101

OHA lost $15 million in expected hospital revenue because of the referendum. The state cannot collect those funds even if the tax package passes on Jan .23.

The Oregon Health Authority reported a $30.5 million general fund shortfall as it sought to balance its books for 2017. 

Chief Financial Officer Laura Robison said that OHA lost $15 million because of the Measure 101 referendum, since it has not been allowed to collect the increased hospital assessment pending the Jan. 23 election.

OHA spokesman Robb Cowie confirmed that the state has forfeited that $15 million and cannot recoup it from hospitals even if Measure 101 passes.

The state was also hamstrung from using $16 million in marijuana tax revenues for community mental health services -- a statutory problem that Steiner Hayward vowed to fix with new legislation.

Adjustments to the Oregon Health Plan were a wash -- minor reductions in its federal match rate required $17 million more from the general fund, but a shift of children from the Medicaid program to the Children’s Health Insurance Program allowed the state to save $16 million.

Families who receive Oregon Health Plan won’t notice the change -- they receive care through coordinated care organizations either way, but the federal government provides more cash for children in CHIP than Medicaid. Medicaid serves the poorest children while CHIP serves kids in the lower-middle class.

Funding for CHIP remains a political football in Congress, but Oregon Rep. Greg Walden said in Washington that a vote on a six-year extension will come to the House floor next week when Congress must pass legislation

He made a similar promise just before Christmas that didn’t happen. Walden told The Hill newspaper Thursday that the bill would be pared back and not include money for community health centers.

Reach Chris Gray at chris@thelundreport.org.

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