FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2012
Jared Mason-Gere (503) 986-1907
House Republicans Block Health Care Savings
Playing Politics with Health Savings Costs Small Business
SALEM- Republicans in the Oregon House of Representatives today blocked passage of the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange, a bill supported by business groups and health care advocates as a way to address issues of cost, quality, and access to health insurance coverage in Oregon. With a procedural motion that left many scratching their heads, Republicans shut down a bill that only last week seemed assured of passage after leaving the House Health Care Committee with a unanimous 8-0 vote in favor. Until this morning, there had been consensus that the bill was ready to move forward, but Republicans referred the bill to the Ways and Means Committee despite the bill having no fiscal impact.
“Oregon can’t afford to have House Republicans play politics with such important legislation,” said House Democratic Leader Tina Kotek (D-Portland). “Small businesses and middle class Oregonians are counting on us to take action to address escalating costs of health insurance. This sends a message that to some people in this building, partisanship and politics are more important than helping Oregon businesses reduce costs and improve flexibility.”
A letter circulated on the House Floor last week by the Republican Co-Chair of the House Health Care Committee cited broad support of the exchange from business advocacy organizations such as Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Business Council, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Oregon Business Association calling on the Legislature to take action this session to address costs and expand access.
Rep. Val Hoyle (D-West Eugene) blasted today’s move: “By rejecting this common sense, straightforward bill today, Republicans sent a clear message that helping small businesses and middle class Oregonians takes a back seat to partisan maneuvering. This is a short session and Oregonians are counting on us to deliver on the issues that matter most. We don’t have time for games. I’m proud that House Democrats stood strong for small business today.”
The Oregon Health Insurance Exchange will help improve access to health care coverage by providing a central marketplace where small businesses and employees can shop for health insurance plans. The proposal will allow Oregon to develop a flexible plan that meets the state’s unique needs.