What They’re Watching: Eric Schulz

Eric Schulz, healthcare advisor at Aldrich Advisors, joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to talk about funding the Medicaid program in Oregon and the upcoming Measure 101 ballot initiative.

My greatest concern is that it was hard to explain to members of the legislature, and all the stakeholders that were involved in building the provider tax and ultimately the premium and provider tax, how it worked and the nuts and bolts of why it was good for the state of Oregon. I think it’s going to be impossible to explain that to the average person. I know I’ve tried to explain it to my dad, who’s not an uneducated person, and he doesn’t understand it. So, I think it’s a really strong possibility that if the initiative is certified, and it goes on the ballot, it will likely not pass. And the hole that it will create in our Medicaid budget will not be simply contained within the Medicaid program. It will be such a large hole that it will bleed out of the Medicaid program and into things such as schools, public works, and public safety. So, I think we have a very dangerous time ahead of ourselves budgetarily as a state because of this one single issue with the ballot initiative. Should it not pass, the legislature will have to come back and refund Medicaid in some way.

We are responsible, as citizens of Oregon, for funding some portion of Medicaid, if not everything that we’ve already agreed to. And I know that my clients at Aldrich, whether they’re hospital clients or physician clients or practice clients, they want to see Medicaid adequately funded. I think we as a state want to see Medicaid adequately funded and so I believe the legislature will come back and they will have to refund the program in some other fashion. This may be the end of the provider tax and the way that we have been funding the Medicaid program as we know it.