November 17, 2015

Many Oregonians Still Left Behind in Health Care


For immediate release
November 17, 2015

For more information, contact:
Joseph Santos-Lyons, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
503-512-0490 /

Many Oregonians Still Left Behind in Health Care
Affordable health care for 383,000 uninsured Oregonians key to future prosperity

Roughly 1 in 10 Oregonians still lack health insurance, and many others who have coverage find it difficult to see a doctor due to cost, discrimination and other barriers. That is according to a report released today by the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA), which called on lawmakers to implement a set of policy recommendations to “Mend the Gap” in health care insurance coverage for all Oregonians.

“Every Oregonian deserves a chance to be healthy, and we have pragmatic solutions to mend the gap for some of the most vulnerable families in our state,” said Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), and OHEA steering committee member. “While Oregon has made progress in recent years, 383,000 Oregonians remain uninsured, threatening the prosperity of every county and the economic future of our state.”

The OHEA Mend the Gap report details the gaps in coverage and the disproportionate impacts on rural Oregonians, communities of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, people with chronic conditions and low-wage working families. The OHEA report noted that while 8 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured in 2014, the rates were 22 percent for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 21 percent for Latinos and 18 percent for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.

Many lack health insurance because it remains too expensive for those experiencing joblessness or poverty, while others are uninsured because federal law continues to exclude people from basic public services including Medicaid due to their citizenship status and other factors, the report said.

The report recognizes that while having health insurance is no guarantee of actually receiving care, it is a primary driver of good health outcomes. The report examined a list of barriers that specific groups of Oregonians encounter in trying to access health care. For instance, many rural Oregonians face challenges seeing a doctor, struggling with long travel distances. Women and transgender persons needing abortion care face high costs and few providers. And transgender people face discrimination and outdated administrative structures that can result in the denial of care.

APANO convened partners to develop the report, and has launched the Our Families, Our Health Campaign to mobilize Asian and Pacific Islander community support for a range of policy changes. Take the Our Families, Our Health Pledge today to show your support!

The report outlines 10 policy recommendations for increasing health insurance coverage and reducing barriers to accessing health care:

  1. Adopt a Basic Health Program for Oregon.
  2. Restore Medicaid coverage to COFA Oregonians.
  3. Extend comprehensive health insurance to Oregon’s undocumented children.
  4. Open health insurance structures to Oregon’s undocumented adults.
  5. Enable Oregonians in the “family glitch” to access affordable coverage.
  6. Strengthen benefits and lower costs for reproductive health services.
  7. Remove administrative barriers that deny service to transgender people.
  8. Adopt a multi-pronged plan for improving rural health care access.
  9. Lower costs for those with chronic conditions, including older working-age Oregonians.
  10. Strengthen standards for dental and vision coverage in the commercial market.

Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) works to make Oregon a more equitable place for all.

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