Measure 23 proposed offering free health care to all Oregon residents through any state licensed health care practitioner. Funding would have come from proposed employer payroll and personal income taxes in addition to other state expenditures.
The system would have been administered by a Health Care Finance Board, with each congressional district electing two board members.
However, the campaign for approval ran into a well-financed machine devoted to its defeat. Financed primarily through health care providers, the opposition effort raised $1.2 million against the proposal, and fanned voters’ fears of escalating taxes, government ineptitude and people immigrating into the state to take advantage of the free health care.
Supporters of Measure 23 managed to raise less than $50,000, which went primarily to last minute television ads.
Mark Lindgren,campaign chairman of Health Care for All Oregonians, the primary supporter of Measure 23, undaunted by the defeat said he would try again for approval in 2004.