Oregon health coverage numbers bolster case for Measure 97

Chuck Sheketoff

Today we learned from the U.S. Census Bureau that while health insurance coverage markedly improved last year, many Oregonians still lack coverage. Oregonians must take decisive steps if we are to make sure that everyone in our state has the basic protection of health insurance. And one of those steps is the enactment of Measure 97.

The share of Oregonians with health insurance reached 93 percent in 2015, up from 90.3 percent in 2014. Compared to 2013, before the major reforms of the federal Affordable Care Act took effect, Oregon’s uninsured rate has shrunk by more than half.

Without question, credit for this improvement goes to the Affordable Care Act, which has helped Oregon cover nearly 400,000 more adults under the Oregon Health Plan and over 135,000 with private coverage.

As beneficial as the Affordable Care Act is, it doesn’t reach everyone. Large gaps remain. The reality is that the Act outright excludes some individuals. And for others, the cost of coverage remains an insurmountable barrier.

Making sure all Oregonians have the chance of a healthy life will require Oregon to step up and finish the job. According to today’s Census figures, there were 280,000 Oregonians without health insurance in 2015. That is more than the populations of Eugene and Bend combined. The lack of health insurance puts people’s health and economic security at risk.

Measure 97 could go a long way in helping Oregon reach the goal of everyone having the basic protection of health insurance. The measure proposes to raise taxes on C-corporations with more than $25 million in Oregon sales, and direct the revenue to education, senior services and healthcare.

With the health and economic security of so many uninsured Oregonians at risk, the need for Measure 97 is clear.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

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