My staff and I have been closely engaged in the Oregon Legislature's discussions on providing health care insurance coverage for children. I have visited Salem twice to lobby, and I have made many phone calls to key legislators. Our City lobbyists and Portland's elected legislators know that providing health care for children is my top priority for the 2009 Legislative session. I am very grateful to House Speaker Mary Nolan, Representative Mitch Greenlick, and many other leaders for their work on this crucial matter.
This Thursday, I plan to testify at the Oregon House Revenue Committee hearing in Salem at 8 a.m. (update 5/20/09 - hearing postponed. More news when I know some) I encourage other citizens who care about this matter to testify, or call/email your legislators. Even in these tough times, we can and should help sick children, and better yet provide preventative health care that reduces risk of illnesses. I am pleased the legislation and funding package has a good chance of moving forward, hopefully with support from all sides.
In more good news, Kaiser Permanente announced last week that the company is providing free health care coverage for all children attending kindergarten through 6th grade in public schools in Multnomah County, whose annual family income is at or below $53,000 - that is, 250% of the federal poverty level. Once enrolled, children remain in the program through age 19, if they stay in school. Details here, and the press release is copied below. Thanks to Kaiser Permanente for stepping up to help with the health care crisis.
For questions about the Kaiser program, or to enroll, call 503-257-1732 or email.
Kaiser Permanente, in partnership with schools and the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD), is offering free health insurance to grade K-6 children attending Multnomah County public schools.
The insurance is free — there is no premium, but families must pay a small co-pay for office visits and prescriptions. Once enrolled, children are covered through age 19 if they remain in school. To qualify, children must meet three main requirements:
- Attend school – Children must attend a public school in Multnomah County. Charter schools and publicly funded alternative programs also qualify.
- Grades K-6 – To enroll, children must be in grades K-6. Siblings can also be covered if they are age 3 or older (through 12th grade).
- Income – Families must earn 250 percent or less of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, this is about $4,600 per month, or $53,000 per year.
Kaiser offers the insurance as part of its community benefit program, which, among other goals, seeks to expand access to medical care for the uninsured. About 4,000 children already are covered through this no-premium plan; Kaiser and MESD want to double enrollment by the end of the year.