State News

Medical Spending in Oregon


Promises We Can’t Afford To Keep…


Dennis Richardson’s Newsletter – July 3, 2013The Oregon House of Representatives just passed HB 5030A, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) budget bill. The Oregon Health Authority has a $15 billion budget and represents a 22% increase in spending in the next two years (2013-15), when compared to the current budget (2011-13).  Think of what a 22% increase in spending in only two years will mean to Oregon now and in the future. It is a $2.7 billion increase—a truly astounding amount.

As I mentioned in my floor speech, blissfully approving a 22% increase in medical spending when the OHA already knows it will have a $1 billion short-fall in revenue in 2015, and an additional $1.5 billion “budget-hole” in 2017, fails to address a simple reality: It is unsustainable. It is based on promises of more federal money without a guarantee from Congress those funds will be delivered. It is based on assumptions of ever-increasing amounts of State tax dollars without identifying the source of that new revenue.

In short, the Governor and Democratic legislative leaders continue to make promises they know we cannot afford to keep.  Costs of state programs almost always increase over time.  When health program costs increase by $2.7 billion in a single budget, expect an increase of $3 billion in the subsequent budget. For a closer look at the Oregon Health Authority, click here.

With strategic planning, the 2013 Legislative Session could have ended weeks ago.  Yet, here we are, waiting for the session to end, passing multi-billion dollar budget increases we cannot sustain, making promises we cannot afford to keep.


Dennis Richardson
State Representative

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