Oregon voters have approved taxes on hospitals, health insurers and managed care companies to address rising Medicaid costs.
Oregon aggressively expanded its Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act. Now, just 5 percent of its population is uninsured.
“One in four Oregonians retain health coverage now,” said Phil Greenhill, CEO at Western Oregon Advanced Health after the numbers started rolling in. “We progress forward to transform healthcare from access to everyone in our state with quality and cost effective delivery.”
Unofficial numbers Wednesday morning from the Oregon Secretary of State's Office showed that the measure passed at 61.83 percent “yes” with only 38.34 percent voting “no.” Coos County voters rejected the measure with 9,305 voters, or 50.77 percent of voters saying "no" compared to 9,021 voters, or 49.23 percent approving the measure.
The single-issue election Tuesday drew national attention because it gave voters — and not lawmakers — the final say on how to fund increasing health care costs.
The plan is a short-term fix for health care funding that will generate between $210 million and $320 million in revenue over two years.
Measure 101 creates a 0.7 percent tax on some hospitals and a 1.5 percent tax on the gross health insurance premiums and on managed care organizations.
Lawmakers must still come up with a long-term funding plan for the more than 350,000 people added to Medicaid and an overall increase in health care expenses.
What the passage of Measure 101 means for voters is that it will ensure health care coverage for those with disabilities, children, and the elderly.
At the ballot boxes on Tuesday afternoon, voters were concerned about the controversial ballot measure.
“I voted no,” said Leann Dunlap of Coos County. “There has to be a better way. I don’t want people to lose coverage but this only fixes it for two years and then we’re back at the same thing again.”
Voter Marian Browning voted yes, stating that she hopes others would vote to keep Medicaid the way it is.
“Medicaid has helped me over the past few years,” she said. “It’s a good program.”
Even so, Aileen Hamas also uses Medicaid but voted against Measure 101, stating that passing this measure would mean a hit to our local hospital.
NORTH BEND – The body of a missing Coos Bay man was discovered Tuesday morning.
The man has now been identified as 56-year-old Willard Dean Canfield.
The North Bend police and fire departments, including Oregon State Police, responded to Florida Avenue where the body was reported to be behind a log yard next to the bay.
“It is somebody that Coos Bay reported missing a few days ago, one of the homeless crowd it seems,” said North Bend Police Det. Sgt. Buddy Young. “Right now it doesn’t look like anything we need to be alarmed about. We won’t know really until we get him in the morgue and start looking him over, but now it looks like he could have been out there and died of exposure with the cold and the wet.” Young added that nothing indicated this could have been a suicide.
“We may never know if it was intentional or accidental, but right now we don’t think there was any foul play.”
COOS COUNTY — Many Oregonians living on the coast woke to a tsunami watch Tuesday morning.
The watch alert went out after a 7.9 quake shook just off Kodiak Island in Alaska at 12:30 a.m. Many living in the lower parts of the island were evacuated as they waited for a mammoth wave that never came.
The tsunami watch was canceled a few hours later, but left many wondering what to do when it happens again.
“The first step to prepare for a tsunami is to find out where you live, where you work and where you spend a lot of your time in relation to the tsunami hazard zones,” said Lt. Alex Drake with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Air Station in North Bend. “Just knowing your home or work is in the zone is the first step to assess your risk. The second piece is knowing how to get out of that tsunami zone if you do receive a warning that one is coming.”
To find out where the tsunami zones are, tsunami maps are available at the county and city courthouses.
“The National Weather Service publishes information if a tsunami is inbound, and now almost everybody has the capability to get alerts on cell phones,” Lt. Drake said. “For any major disasters, we will push alerts on the phone.”
However, during a tsunami warning event, the Coast Guard’s main concern is the maritime community.
“We will issue radio broadcasts on Channel 16 VHF radio to notify any mariners on the water of what the risks are,” Lt. Drake said. “That’s the one part of the notification process that the Coast Guard handles.”
Of course, the amount of time between an earthquake and arrival of a tsunami depends on where the earthquake originates. In the case of the 7.9 quake in Alaska on Tuesday, one never arrived. However, if one were on its way, a warning message would provide an estimated time of arrival for the first wave to reach Oregon shores.
“If we would feel an earthquake here, the tsunami could be here as soon as 15 minutes,” Lt. Drake said.
“There’s been a lot of research done on what type of impacts this area would have if we had a significant earthquake,” he continued. “People need to be prepared to take care of themselves for potentially an extended period of time. Simple things like food and water could be a challenge. People need to be ready and take care of their families.”
In fact, resources may not reach the Coos County area after an earthquake or tsunami for months depending on the damage.
“The bridges in the area are our lifeline to the rest of the world basically,” Lt. Drake said. “I’m thinking more of a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake followed by a tsunami, that’s the biggest risk because if the bridges are compromised by an earthquake that’s going to hinder supplies coming in.”
However, last year local emergency offices came together to establish an incident command service team.
As previously reported, the ICS would be essential during a Cascadia earthquake, which would isolate Coos County for up to six months.
To become a SAR volunteer or to join the ICS command team being formed, visit www.co.coos.or.us/Departments/SheriffsOffice/SearchandRescue.aspx to fill out an application.
But the big message Lt. Drake wanted to get out is for people to first be aware of their risks based on where they live, work and play. The other part of that message is to be prepared.
To help encourage the public to be prepared, Gov. Kate Brown announced last year that Oct. 15 is now the Great Oregon ShakeOut Day. Not only that, but the Coast Guard held a simulation in 2016 to help prepare its personnel on the Oregon Coast in case a Cascadia-sized subduction quake hits.