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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Don't give up on insurance for kids

Don't give up on insurance for kids

Oregon voters tossed Measure 50 into a figurative ash tray.

The measure, which failed in the Nov. 6 election by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent, would have boosted the state's tobacco tax to supply medical insurance to an estimated 117,000 children who live in the state.

Despite Measure 50's resounding failure, we think the measure's goal — making sure children are insured — is worthwhile.

Which is why the lawmakers who voted to put the tax hike on the Nov. 6 ballot have a duty to continue their campaign by other means.

It seems obvious that Oregonians don't want to tax a single product — even a product which only about a quarter of the state's adults use — to expand the Oregon Health Plan for kids.

Although we endorsed Measure 50, we understand why some voters might have bristled at the prospect of saddling one comparatively small group with the entire insurance tab.

Legislators should consider proposing a tax that spreads the burden more broadly. Such a tax, because it would be borne by more people, would not need to be as large, per person, as the Measure 50 tobacco tax.

Voters might also have been put off by Measure 50 because it would have added the tobacco tax to the state's Constitution. The onslaught of advertisements that Measure 50's opponents unleashed certainly emphasized the constitutional issue.

Those ads also pointed out — quite persuasively, too — that state officials have failed to enroll in the current insurance plan an estimated 60,000 kids who are eligible.

We can't blame voters for being skeptical, considering such a statistic.

The bottom line, though, is that even if every child who's now eligible for insurance were signed up, there would still be tens of thousands of Oregon children whom the state couldn't afford to help.

Protecting children is a task all citizens should contribute to. Now it's the Legislature's job to figure out how to make sure we all pick up a fair share of that responsibility.

 
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