Federal officials have approved two requests from the state that will improve access to health care for more than 30,000 children enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Another 8,800 of Oregon's poorest adults enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan Standard benefit package also will benefit.
"When more of our citizens have health insurance, health care is more affordable for all of us," said Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
The changes, which take effect June 1, include:
• Children and teens who enroll or re-enroll in the children's health insurance program will be eligible for 12 months of coverage, rather than six.
• Oregon Health Plan Standard enrollees with incomes less than 10 percent of the federal poverty level will no longer pay $6 monthly premiums.
• Oregon Health Plan Standard enrollees reporting higher incomes (between 10 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level) will be able to remain enrolled in the program and pay their monthly premiums at the conclusion of their six-month eligibility period rather than lose coverage if they fail to pay every month.
The Oregon Department of Human Services applied for approval of the program changes last fall 2005 after the Legislature passed authorizing legislation. Federal approval of the program changes is required because the federal government pays 61 percent of Medicaid costs.
Children's health insurance covers Oregon children and teens under age 19 from households earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($37,000 per year, or $3,083 a month, for a family of four). About 30,200 Oregon children and teens are covered through that plan.
Additionally,195,600 Oregon children are covered through the Oregon Health Plan, which covers children under the age of 19 in families earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($26,600 per year, or $2,217 a month, for a family of four).
"Of the 117,000 children in Oregon today who are uninsured, more than half are eligible for, but not enrolled in our existing programs," Kulongoski said.
A substantial number of parents fail to re-enroll their children in the program after their six-month eligibility expires, he noted. Extending eligibility to 12 months will address that problem, he said.
The governor's Healthy Kids Plan will provide access to health care for every child in Oregon by expanding school-based health centers and enrolling children eligible for the state's Medicaid and state insurance programs and helping keep them enrolled.
The plans also will expand health care coverage for kids by giving parents with incomes too high to qualify for federal programs (above 200 percent poverty level or $37,700 for a family of four) the opportunity to buy affordable, state-subsidized group coverage for their children.
For more details on how the governor's plan will reach the 117,000 uninsured children in Oregon, visit http://governor.oregon.gov.
The Oregon Health Plan Standard benefit package covers low-income adults who don't qualify for traditional Medicaid but earn less than the federal poverty level ($9,800 per year, or $817 a month for an individual). About 40 percent, or 8,800, of the 22,000 Oregon Health Plan Standard enrollees report incomes of 10 percent or less of the poverty level ($980 per year, or $82 per month for an individual).
The Oregon Health Plan Plus benefit package (which does not charge premiums) covers about 350,000 low-income Oregonians who are federally entitled to Medicaid coverage because they are aged, blind, disabled or are participating in the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.