Cover Oregon Bill passes House Health Care Committee, heads to Ways and Means Committee

HB 4154 holds Cover Oregon accountable to decision-makers and the public, protects Oregonians who still need access to affordable care
The Health Care Committee of the Oregon House of Representatives today passed House Bill 4154 with unanimous support. The bill now moves to the Joint Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. 
The bill—sponsored by Representative Fagan and supported by SEIU—holds Cover Oregon accountable and fixes the flaws in the system to ensure that the challenges with Cover Oregon do not prevent Oregonians from getting quality, affordable health insurance.  
Since the fall, SEIU has been working on the ground to empower Oregonians with the facts about the new health care benefits. The organization has hosted more than 85 enrollment events across the state and successfully signed up more than 4,500 Oregonians.
 “Despite the challenges, we know that thousands of Oregonians now have access to health care coverage for the first time,” said Melissa Unger, State Director for SEIU State Council. “Cover Oregon worked for Sheri—an in-home caregiver for aging Oregonians and people with disabilities in Grants Pass—who we helped enroll for coverage. Just two days after her insurance took effect, Sheri needed emergency care after taking a frightening fall down the stairs. Sheri got the quality care she needed and avoided a crushing financial burden.” 
HB 4154 ensures that Oregonians can get coverage and still receive benefits through the Affordable Care Act, in spite of the challenges at Cover Oregon. The bill works to secure federal tax credits for small businesses, Oregonians who signed up through a private carrier, and those who apply by March 31. HB 4154 also extends coverage to high-risk Oregonians through the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, providing health care access for those who need it the most. 
“Cover Oregon did not work as planned,” said Unger. “It’s time to hold the organization accountable to decision-makers and the public. Changes are needed to ensure that Cover Oregon can provide the quality health care coverage that Oregonians and our families are counting on.”
HB 4154 addresses some of Cover Oregon’s shortcomings and works to fix the flaws in our system to prevent similar events in the future, SEIU will continue to advocate for additional changes such as stronger budget oversight and a way to hold the agency director accountable. The bill holds Cover Oregon accountable by allowing Governor Kitzhaber to remove members of the Board of Directors and ensure there is a board in place that can move Cover Oregon forward.


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