Governor Ted Kulongoski this morning signed the Healthy Kids bill. The initiative, which will appear as Measure 50 on the November 6th ballot for approval by voters, seeks to use increased tobacco taxes to fund health care coverage for 117,000 Oregon children currently lacking it.
According to a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund, election day can't come to soon for Oregon's uninsured children.
The report, "Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance," examined states' performance across 32 indicators of health care access, quality, outcomes and hospital use. In its study comparing the relative health care performance of all 50 states Oregon ranked a disappointing 34th. Particularly alarming is the state's dismal performance in several indicators measuring the access and quality of health care for children:
- Oregon ranked 34th for the percentage of children under age 17 insured. The 89.6% figure trailed the median for all 50 states of 91.1%.
- The state came in 49th in providing five key vaccines to children between the ages of 19 and 35 months.
- Only 52% of Oregon children had both a preventive medical and dental visit in the past year, well below the 50 state median of 59%, and placing the state 40th nationally.
Governor Kulongoski predicted a battle with tobacco interests over the ballot measure for Healthy Kids. But for Oregon voters, he said, "I see it as a no brainer." The numbers certainly appear to back him up.