Legislative Leadership Unveils ‘Health Care Mystery Tax’

Today, the House Democratic Leadership, in conjunction with the Oregon Health Authority, are unveiling a ‘Heath Care Mystery Tax’ on all businesses with 50 or more employees.

Why do we call it a ‘Mystery Tax?’

Read it for yourself. (Hint: Read Section 2)

Under the new version of House Bill 2269, the State will be empowered to determine an arbitrary minimum expenditure that all employers with 50+ employees must pay toward the cost of healthcare for their employees who work 8 hours per week.

The State will then send employers the tax bill.

That’s right. An unelected state agency will prescribe an employers’ “required” health care expenditures (by agency rulemaking), set the corresponding tax rate (by agency rulemaking), and send the tax bill.

The bill authorizes the state to ‘adjust’ (ie. increase) the tax every year. Employers will have no say.

This is an extraordinarily dangerous precedent. The legislature is delegating to an unelected state agency the power to set arbitrary tax rates. If this can be done with health care taxes, it can be done with any tax on any size employer at any time.

OSCC, and a number of our partner business associations, will be testifying in opposition to this bill today. You can see our lobby piece here.

As we stand today, the Governor and legislative leadership are intent on passing this bill. Also as we understand it, the goal is to raise between $400 million – $500 million per biennium to fund state health care programs, including Medicaid.

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