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Small Businesses Taxed Yet Again!

Senate Bill 329, Oregonís health care reform act, was passed by the Oregon Legislature during the 2007 Legislative Session and signed into law. The authority to design what reform looked like, how it would be funded, benefit levels, etc. was assigned to the newly formed Oregon Health Fund Board (OHFB). Information about the OHFB and Oregonís health care reform activity can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/OHPPR/HFB/index.shtml.

OSBRL and other small businesses were active before the 2007 Session and during the 2007 Session to assist in crafting the bill, bill amendments and testifying in favor of the bill. Our involvement helped craft legislation that would bring much needed health care reform to Oregon and equally spread the cost over employers, government and individuals. Thanks are due Senator Bates and Senator Westlund for their leadership before and during the session. They listened to small business and provided the leadership to see the passage of legislation that would not once again place an undue burden on small business regarding funding.

Committees were formed under OHFB to research and develop proposals that would be presented to the OHFB and eventually the Oregon Legislative Assemble regarding funding, benefits, outreach, etc. The committees formed are:

At this point, even though SB 329 called for transparency, it does not seem to exist when it comes to discussing committee activity, publishing OHFB information and involving those outside the limited few who are members of what appears to be an inner circle especially selected by the Office of the Governor. Also, it does not appear small business is welcome given the OHFB executive director was specifically asked how small businesses could become involved and how small business was represented on the OHFB and on the committees over a month ago and to date there has been no response.

Chris Apgar, Healthcare Committee Chair, testified at the December 19, 2007 meeting of the Finance Committee and his testimony can be found on this web site. It appears that the primary funding sources the OHFB are pursing are a provider tax (many providers in Oregon are small businesses) and a payroll tax (opposed by small business). Other funding mechanisms referenced in the bill and suggested by small business through OSBRL do not appear to even be on the table.

Chris Apgar testimony

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