Oregon Gov. Proposes Cigarette Tax Increase To Fund Children's Health Care Coverage
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) on Monday proposed increasing the state's cigarette tax by 85 cents per pack to expand the Oregon Health Plan, which provides health insurance to uninsured children, the Oregonian reports. Under the plan, Oregon'
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) on Monday proposed increasing the state's cigarette tax by 85 cents per pack to expand the Oregon Health Plan, which provides health insurance to uninsured children, the Oregonian reports. Under the plan, Oregon's cigarette tax would be increased to $2.03 per pack from $1.18, which is expected to generate $150 million to $170 million in revenue. If the plan is approved, the state would subsidize health coverage on a sliding scale for children younger than 19 in families of four with a maximum annual income of $70,000 and fully subsidize health care for children in families of four with annual incomes of less than $40,000. The plan also would increase the number of school-based health centers and provide funding for dentists to treat children at schools (Esteve, Oregonian, 9/26). According to the Oregonian, most business and political leaders agree that the state's health care system is "ailing" and costs are becoming "unsustainable." Former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), the Oregon Business Council and leaders of a Senate committee on health care have called for more comprehensive reforms, rather than "partial fixes" like Measure 44 on the November ballot, which would expand a prescription drug discount program to all uninsured Oregon residents, according to the Oregonian. Kitzhaber said he would introduce his proposal for reform next year (Graves/Colburn, Oregonian, 9/26).
In related news, the state received a D+ on providing health care to children on a report card released Tuesday by Children's First for Oregon. The report card measures the status of children in terms of 10-year trends and goals set by the Oregon Progress Board, which monitors the state's social and economic standing. Oregon failed to meet its 2005 goals in several areas, including childhood poverty, immunization, health care and obesity, among others. However, Oregon did meet its benchmarks in reducing hunger and teenage smoking and pregnancy, according to the report (Graves, Oregonian, 9/26).
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