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First round of disenrollments looms as Oregon pores through its Medicaid rolls

State officials say about 80 percent of the 1.5 million Oregon Health Plan members will keep coverage
The Oregon Health Authority in Salem. | OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY
June 22, 2023

More than 24,000 Oregonians will lose access to the free health care coverage provided under the Oregon Health Plan later this month. It’s the first wave of disenrollments to result from the renewal of state eligibility checks that had been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new number represents the latest update from Oregon on the state’s renewal process after a three-year pause. Federal authorities had paused routine checks during the pandemic to keep people insured.

According to the state, nearly 7 in 10 Oregonians reviewed so far will keep their coverage. “Fewer than 1 in 18 people lost coverage,” according to a press release. In the remaining cases, the state is seeking additional information.

The state had initially estimated that as many as 300,000 people in all could lose coverage because they make too much money to qualify for the program. Currently, nearly 1.5 million are enrolled.

So far, the state has sent renewal notices to households comprising 450,047 people, or about 30% of the total enrolled. The Oregon Health Authority uses an outside payroll vendor to verify eligibility for the Medicaid-funded program when possible. 

About 64% of those households were renewed automatically, without requiring additional questions from the state. But the state still expects roughly 80% of those up for review will eventually prove eligible, according to Erica Heartquist, an agency spokesperson.

In Oregon, residents who earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level — about $37,000 a year for a family of four — qualify for the Oregon Health Plan.

However, the state obtained permission to extend coverage up to 200% of the federal poverty level — about $60,000 for a family of four — until a new health plan for the working poor can be established.