Thousands of Oregonians Will Gain Free Health Care Coverage in July


By Lynne Terry

Thousands of low-income Oregonians who would qualify for Medicaid if they were legal residents will receive free health care insurance starting July 1.

The Oregon Health Authority expects to enroll about 12,000 people who have had only state-paid emergency care in new government insurance for medical, mental health, dental and eye care. It will also offer prescriptions, tests, hospital care and medical transport. Like Medicaid, it will be free for patients.

The Legislature created the program in 2021, allocating $100 million to insure undocumented residents. The funding covers the program through June 30, 2023, the end of the budget biennium.

“The new coverage will not only save lives but will improve them,” Philip Schmidt, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority said. “OHA believes that this is a key step towards health equity in our state.”

To qualify, undocumented residents must earn less than $18,075 a year for one person or $36,908 for a family of four.

The state is picking up the cost because the federal insurance program – Medicaid – doesn’t allow participation by undocumented residents.

The initiative is part of the agency’s goal of eliminating health inequities in Oregon by 2030.

At the moment, the 12,000 people who will be eligible for the new program have state-paid emergency care. This applies when a person’s health is in danger or they need immediate care to prevent impairment of a bodily function, part or organ. This includes trauma care following an accident, for example. They will be automatically enrolled in the new insurance. and most will be paired with a Medicaid insurer or coordinated care organization, which hare regionally based.

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This story was first posted in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.