Oregon is now offering free health care benefits to residents who did not previously qualify for full coverage because of their immigration status.
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Jeremy Vandehey, Director of the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Health Policy and Analytics Division, discussed the state’s new Healthier Oregon program during Tuesday’s Oregon Health Policy Board (OHPB) meeting. Adults ages 19-25 and 55 and older who were not eligible for full Oregon Health Plan (OHP) benefits due to their immigration status can now receive free coverage through the program, which launched Friday.
“It’s a monumental moment and something we should all be proud of,” Vandehey said. “It will provide OHP-like coverage for folks who would be eligible for Medicaid but for immigration status.”
The program was created after the passage of House Bill 3352 and the legislature provided $100 million to fund its first year of operation, Vandehey said. It will cover services that are covered through OHP, like medical, mental health, dental, prescription, and hospital services, as well as rides to and from health care appointments.
Approximately 12,000 members of Citizenship Waived Medical (CWM)—which covers emergency medical, dental, and transport services—acquired full benefits through Healthier Oregon Friday, Vandehey said. That includes people who are also eligible for services provided through the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Office of Developmental Disabilities Services and Office of Aging People with Disabilities.
“It’s really exciting to finally see this come to reality,” OHPB Vice Chair Oscar Arana said. “A lot of folks have been fighting to make this happen.”
While funding was inadequate to cover all age groups during the program’s first year, adults ages 26-54 who do not qualify for full OHP benefits due to their immigration status will continue to be eligible for CWM or CWM-Plus coverage.
CWM also covers some reproductive health services through the Reproductive Health Equity Act and life-sustaining dialysis services in hospital inpatient and outpatient surgeries or ER settings. CWM Plus covers full OHP benefits during pregnancy and for 60 postpartum days.
OHA officials plan to expand Healthier Oregon coverage to more residents as additional funding becomes available. Enrollment is now open for those who are eligible. Outreach efforts and materials to notify residents of the program are being distributed in multiple languages, Vandehey said.