OREGON HOUSE REPUBLICANS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Nick Smith
May 27, 2011
REPUBLICANS SUPPORT BILL TO PROTECT OHP COVERAGE,
DEMAND TRANSPARENCY IN FUTURE PROVIDER AGREEMENTS
SALEM— Two House Republicans on the Health Care Committee today supported legislation to help maintain medical coverage for low-income Oregonians and to reduce proposed cuts in Medicaid reimbursements to providers and hospitals. The Republicans say protecting vulnerable citizens outweighed their reluctance to support SB 204, especially after news of a 2009 deal surfaced between Democrats and a special interest group.
“Despite the controversy, we believe it’s important to maintain coverage for 60,000 of our most needy citizens,” said Health Care Committee Co-Chair Jim Thompson (R-Dallas). “Considering the agreements struck by previous legislative leadership, this is our only option to avoid the most damaging cuts in human services.”
During the 2009 session, Democrats pushed a new tax on health insurance premiums on individuals and small businesses, and increased provider taxes in order to attract more federal dollars. Under legislation and deals struck in 2009, a state agency is allowed to further increase provider taxes without a vote of the Legislature.
“Many members of the current legislature didn’t vote to raise taxes, and the Democrats have bound us to the agreements they made,” said Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn/Tualatin). “Backroom deals are a reason why Oregonians lack confidence in their state government, but low-income Oregonians shouldn’t have to suffer the fallout. This is the best we can do under the current framework.”
House Republicans say future agreements should be transparent and accountable to the public.
“My constituents are understandably angry when they read of secret deals that may benefit certain interests,” said Rep. Tim Freeman (R-Roseburg), Co-Chair of the Health Care Transformation Committee. “In the future, the process should be more transparent, and legislators should have an opportunity to vote on any tax increase the state imposes.”