The Oregon House has passed a package of bills to fund the Oregon Health Authority and continue providing health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians.
The vote wasn’t just on the budget — it added a completely new tax on hospitals and insurance companies.
That extra money will help pay to maintain Medicaid insurance for nearly 400,000 Oregonians.
Rep. Knute Buehler, a Republican doctor from Bend, said for years Democrats and Republicans worked together on health care transformation. “When you have buy-in from both parties, there’s a certain amount of ownership," he says. "So instead of trying to overthrow something, everyone rolls up their sleeves and tries to make it better. And I think that’s what’s particularly disappointing this time around is that we were trying to do that but were really rejected for a very small difference.”
Only one Republican voted for the Democratic tax plan.
Buehler says Republicans didn’t want money to go to Oregon’s health insurance exchange, mainly because he says it isn’t working well.