Early returns show a race too close to call for Measure 111, which would amend the Oregon Constitution to create a new fundamental right for everyone living here: access to affordable health care.
If it passes, Measure 111 would make Oregon the first state in the nation with a constitutional obligation to provide access to affordable health care to all its residents, similar to the constitutional guarantee of a public K-12 education.
“We’re hopeful, we’re proud of the work that our campaign has done,” said Emerson Hamlin, campaign manager for Measure 111, just after 9 p.m. on election night. “So, we’ll just have to see what the rest of the results bring. We’re certainly not giving up.”
Passage of the measure would be a significant win for Democrats in the Legislature, who referred it to the voters over opposition from their Republican colleagues.
The language of the measure states: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”
But Measure 111 does not spell out what the state would have to do to meet its new constitutional obligation, were the measure to pass, or define what access to affordable health care means. Were the measure to pass, it would be up to the Legislature to shape what health care access for all looks like and how to pay for it. The Legislature will be back in session starting in January.
A constitutional right to health care was the lifelong project of Mitch Greenlick, who served in the state Legislature and tried at least eight times in 16 years to send a proposal for it to the voters. Greenlick died in 2020, and his Democratic colleagues in the legislature referred the measure to voters in honor of his work.
This is a developing story. Watch for updates.