Measure 101 proved to be popular statewide with voters Tuesday but not in Union County.

The health care measure was approved 62 percent to 38 percent by Oregon voters, but it was solidly rejected in Union County 57 percent to 43 percent. Wallowa County voters narrowly rejected it 51 percent to 49 percent.

Bill Whitaker of La Grande, a member of Oregon Rural Action and a supporter of Measure 101, was delighted with its passage.

“What it means is that one million Oregonians will get to stay on the Oregon Health Plan, including 400,000 children,” Whitaker said.

Measure 101 approves temporary fees to fund health care for lower-income individuals and families. The temporary fees will be charged to insurance companies, some hospitals and other providers of health care.

Passage of the measure affirms House Bill 2391, approved by the Oregon Legislature in 2017 to fill a hole in the 2017-19 budget. The defeat of Measure 101 would have repealed House Bill 2391.

Whitaker said that because Measure 101 boosts taxes on insurance companies and this increase, which cannot exceed 1.5 percent, will be passed on to consumers, it essentially means that many will pay more in taxes. Whitaker said he doesn’t mind a potential tax increase.

“I look upon taxes as my membership fee for society,” Whitaker said. “I’m happy to pay taxes to help other people and children.”

He said passage of Measure 101 will allow Oregon to get billions of dollars in matching funds from the federal government. This of course will be money Oregonians have previously paid in taxes to the federal government.

“The income tax money we paid will be coming back for health care,” Whitaker said.

Mike Burton of the Union County Republicans said he was disappointed by the outcome of the election but not surprised. He said the outcome was not unexpected because of the amount of money that was spent to support Measure 101 with advertising such as misleading television commercials.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer

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