Representative Wand: Why “yes” on SB 99?

by Rep. Matt Wand

I have been asked about my yes vote on Senate Bill 99, which directs the OHA to create a business plan for a healthcare exchange in Oregon, to be considered by the Legislature in February 2012.  This bill addresses two options the legislature had to choose from—I chose the option I believe is better for Oregon. We had to choose between option 1:  Letting the President impose an exchange on Oregonians or; Option 2: Pass an exchange ourselves.

It was very clear to all of us at the Legislature that a “no” vote on this bill would be a vote to allow the federal government to impose an exchange on its terms. I believe we did the right thing by creating those terms ourselves for our state.

When faced with a choice between state action versus certain federal action (such as this), my vote will almost always be to keep power at the state level as opposed to the federal level.  I question whether the federal government should have ever put us in this place to begin with, but my power over the federal government is limited to the ballot box and so we must protect what we can with state legislation.

Faced with this, we made the best decision we could with the options we had. Now we will be monitoring it during the interim and a final proposal will be coming in February for a vote.  In the meantime, this bill authorizes the state to put together a plan for consideration by the legislature so we are protected from the federal government.