On Tuesday, August 4th, 2009, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed two major health care bills into law: HB 2116, which will expand health care coverage to 80,000 children and 35,000 low-income adults, and HB 2009, an Act intended to improve health care delivery to all Oregonians. These bills, designed to work in tandem, will work to provide health care coverage to more Oregonians, while pushing a major overhaul in Oregon's health care system. My health care policy assistant, Sara Hussein, and I attended the Governor's signing ceremony at OHSU.
HB 2009 contains a number of health reform steps intended to reduce health care costs and increase efficiency to the system. Included in this Act is the creation of the Oregon Health Authority, which will include all of the State's health care agencies, and the Governor-appointed Oregon Health Policy Board, which will advise the Governor on health care related policies. HB 2116, commonly known as the "Healthy Kids" bill, expands coverage to 200,000 Oregonians over the next four years through the Oregon Health Plan. As a result, 95% of all children in Oregon will be insured.
BUT, parents must enroll their dependents in order to receive services. Although hospitals and other emergency care providers will apply when children show up needing urgent care, the program is designed to provide preventative care such as well-child check-ups and vaccinations. Parents may hesitate to visit a primary care provider if they don't know that their children are eligible for covered services.
The Healthy Kids Plan is being rolled out in three phases:
TODAY - Children in families with income up to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) ($40,792.50 for a family of four) can enroll.
BEGINNING OCTOBER 2009 - Coverage will extend to children in families up to 200% FPL ($44,100 for a family of four).
BEGINNING JANUARY 2010 - Children in families between 200% and 300% FPL ($44,100 to 66,150 for a family of four) will be able to enroll in coverage with premium assistance and children in families above 300% FPL will be able to buy into the program at full cost.
However, apply today! If your family qualifies for a later phase, your application will be kept on file and activated when eligible. Early applications help ensure a child's enrollment into the program.
Please help spread the word and encourage parents to sign up!
Call 1-877-314-5678 or visit the website at www.oregonhealthykids.gov.
Sara Hussein and Tim Crail of my office worked on supporting this program at the 2009 Legislature, along with the City of Portland's Government Relations staff. Sara drafted this blog post.