Oregon voters, no more fond of taxes than any other bunch of Americans, have determined that spending more money on healthcare is the right thing to do.
Measure 101, which led 62 percent to 38 percent with returns partially tallied, was the only issue on the ballot. It will raise $210 million to $320 million in taxes on Oregon's largest hospitals and many health insurance policies by 2019.
Voters' wide approval of the tax deal was a victory for Democrats, who put the deal together and brokered enough votes in the Legislature to pass it, and for the health care industry, which bankrolled the "yes" campaign and will benefit from the resulting $1 billion-plus that will be spent on Oregonians' health care.
The passage of Measure 101 also will free lawmakers to spend their upcoming six-week session considering major policy changes, such as whether to adopt a statewide carbon cap and pricing scheme, instead of seeking a workable patch to the Medicaid system.
Insurance companies will be allowed to pass that 1.5 percent tax on most policies onto their customers. Passage means that the state will get as much as $960 million in federal Medicaid matching funds, money critical to keeping rural hospital afloat, as well as to providing coverage.
Healthcare continues to be one of the top issues voters cite in issue polling, as popularity of the Affordable Care Act increases. As many as eight states, all red states that didn’t take the Medicaid expansion in the ACA, have ballot initiative efforts underway for this year.