Oregon has good news for low-income adults who have only been eligible for emergency health insurance coverage up until now. Beginning July 1, 2022, Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan (OHP) benefits will be newly available to about 12,000 more Oregonians whose income qualifies them but who have been excluded solely because of their immigration status.
|The bad news?
Only certain age groups will qualify this year because funding for the program is limited.
In June 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3352, called Cover All People. The new program, now called the Healthier Oregon Program, expands full OHP Plus benefits to otherwise eligible adults ages 19-25 and 55 and older regardless of their immigration status.
This leaves out people in their prime working years who do not receive health insurance through their employer or qualify for the health insurance marketplace. But even if they do, these options often come with a cost that can be a barrier.
Since 2014, Oregon has offered emergency medical coverage known as CAWEM, or Citizen Alien Waived Emergent Medical, for Oregon residents who if not for their immigration status would qualify for OHP. However, this only covers emergency services and ambulance transport when one’s life is in danger, as well as prenatal care and child birth for pregnant women.
ER doctors often refer a patient to a primary care provider or a specialist, care previously not covered for a patient without legal immigration status. If the patient forgoes needed treatment, this can lead to serious and even life-threatening conditions. The Healthier Oregon Program addresses this, but only for those people who fall into the qualifying age groups. It is estimated that approximately 55,000 Oregon adults will still only qualify for CAWEM.
For more background information about the Healthier Oregon Program:
The Lund Report
Oregon Health Authority letter to providers (June 17, 2022)
Healthier Oregon flier (OHA)
Local flier (LCA-Mosaic Medical-Volunteers in Medicine)
What is LCA’s role?
We at the Latino Community Association are working to inform and help our eligible immigrant adults access health care services once they have OHP coverage. Fortunately, all adults currently enrolled in CAWEM will automatically be enrolled in OHP Plus. But for those who are not, we will continue to enroll uninsured individuals in OHP or CAWEM and make sure they know about the free services offered at Volunteers in Medicine and free to low-cost services at Mosaic Medical.
We are currently hiring to fill two positions that will lead this effort thanks to funding from the Oregon Health Authority. We invite you to apply.