Oregon Takes Key Step for Affordable Health and Immigrant Inclusion
Basic Health Bill Heads to Governor Kate Brown
Salem, Ore. – Today the Oregon Senate passed HB 2934A with a bipartisan vote of 22-7 (1 excused). This priority bill of the Oregon Health Equity Alliance now heads to Governor Kate Brown for her signature. HB 2934A, directs directs the Oregon Health Authority to work with stakeholders to develop the policy framework for a potential Basic Health Program. A Basic Health Program has the potential to cover 87,000 working Oregonians, providing better care at lower costs, and create an affordable option for legal residents who face barriers due to their immigration status.
“We can and must do right by our working families who contribute everyday to our state’s economic recovery by ensuring they have access to affordable healthcare,” says Alberto Moreno, Executive Director of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition.
“Today is a day of hope for many working Oregonians struggling to afford required health insurance, even with the help of federal tax subsidies,” says Janet Bauer, policy analyst for the Oregon Center for Public Policy. “A well-designed Oregon Basic Health Program would provide quality health coverage for tens of thousands of lower-income Oregonians — at little or no cost to the state.”
“Our immigrant communities continue to face unnecessary and costly exclusions from the Oregon Health Plan, and we look forward to working with the Oregon Health Authority to develop the policy framework grounded in inclusion, affordability and innovation,” says Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO).
Basic Health is an program option states may elect under the Federal Affordable Care Act to provide choice to individuals who earn 138-200% of the Federal Poverty Level. The 2014 feasibility study of an Oregon Basic Health Plan revealed significant benefits including expanded health insurance coverage, improved benefits, that could potentially be offered through Oregon’s coordinated care organizations. Basic Health could work toward addressing Oregon’s significant health disparities: the lack of insurance, which disproportionately affects communities of color, immigrants and refugees. A Basic Health Program can extend healthcare choices to Oregonians from the Compact of Free Association (COFA) nations of Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands, and Legal Permanent Residents who have resided in the US for under 5 years, who currently are excluded from federal Medicaid benefits. It can also advance health equity by increasing access to a range of reproductive care, dental and mental health services. Oregon could achieve all of this at little or no cost to the state budget.
HB 2934A is sponsored by the House Healthcare Committee, and passed the House of Representatives 39-21 on April 20, 2015.
Inclusion, Affordability, and Inovation Coalition/HB 2934A Endorsing Organizations include:
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Children First for Oregon
Coalition of Communities of Color
Coalition of Community Health Clinics
Elders in Action
Healthcare for All Oregon
Mid-Valley Healthcare Advocates
NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon
Oregon Latino Health Coalition
Oregon Law Center
Oregon Center for Public Policy
Oregon Health Equity Alliance
Oregon Primary Care Association