Heath care tax opponents submit signatures for referendum

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Three Republican lawmakers say they’ve gathered enough signatures that, if verified, would set up a special election to determine the fate of a multimillion-dollar health care tax that was approved by the Legislature this year and signed by the governor.

The chief petitioners said Thursday they’ve submitted the signatures of 84,367 people to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State for consideration. They needed 58,789. If that many are verified, a referendum would be held on House Bill 2391 .

The three lawmakers, Reps. Julie Parish, Cedric Hayden and Sal Esquivel, say the new taxes on hospitals and insurers would ultimately be shifted to consumers.

Proponents of the bill say it protects health care for 350,000 Oregonians and keeps premiums low for another 250,000.