Legislature moves health care tax

Democrats protect self-insured corporations and unions, stick small, family owned businesses with cost of health care reform
By Oregon Senate Republicans

Salem, OR — As Oregon wrestles with record unemployment, Governor Kulongoski (D) and Legislative Democrats are pushing for a health care premium tax that protects labor unions and mega-businesses at the expense of individual payers and small businesses, the backbone of Oregon’s economy. “We share the goal of increasing access to health care for all Oregonians,” said Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “But taxing small businesses, the heartbeat of our economy, in the middle of a record setting recession is just foolish. This proposal is a political payoff to special interests. Protecting them while small businesses cut health care benefits and lay off workers is just wrong, and I oppose it.”

The proposed 1.5% tax on health care premiums is not a long-term, workable solution. The premium tax unfairly targets small businesses while exempting self-insured entities such as large companies and labor trusts. The tax would extract $169 million from individual payers and family businesses. The State of Oregon, the largest purchaser of health care coverage in Oregon would also be exempt from paying the tax.

“If we are going to find a solution, it should be a solution to which everyone contributes, not just small businesses and individual payers,” said Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg). “State government, big businesses and labor unions should contribute just as much as the ma and pa grocery down the street.”

Oregon’s unemployment rate climbed to 12.1% on Monday, the highest level since 1947. More than 260,000 Oregonians can not find a job, much less afford healthcare.