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OHEA Mend the Gap Report Why Full Coverage Makes Sense for Oregon

November 17, 2015

The Oregon Health Equity Alliance this morning released a thoroughly research report on the state of health insurance coverage in Oregon.

"Although Oregon has made great progress in recent years in extending health insurance coverage to its people, the job is not done."
The Issue: Here in Oregon, 383,000 people remain uninsured, threatening the prosperity of every county and the economic future of our state. Communities of color, LGBT communities, rural Oregonians, immigrant communities, women and low-income families disproportionately experience lack of health insurance and barriers to accessing care. In this report, OHEA outlines pragmatic yet impactful policies that have the potential to strengthen the health of thousands of Oregonians who remain uninsured and underinsured.
Key Findings:

Nearly 1 in 10 Oregonians still lacks health insurance coverage.
The gap in coverage disproportionately affects rural Oregonians, communities of color, immigrant children and adults, women, LGBTQ people and low-wage working families.
While 8 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured in 2014, the rates were 22 percent for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 21 percent for Latinos and 18 percent for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.
LGBTQ adults are also 5 percent less likely than heterosexual adults to have coverage.
Low-income workers who are not eligible for Medicaid but make less that 200 percent of the federal poverty line are twice as likely to be uninsured.
Immigrants and legal residents also face many barriers to accessing health coverage:

While some states provide state-funded coverage to COFA residents, Oregon still does not for the more than 3,000 people who are categorically excluded because they are from Palau, Micronesia or the Marshall Islands who live and work here legally.
About 17,600 undocumented children under the age of 19 live in Oregon. Six other states provide health care coverage to every child in the state, but Oregon does not.
Similarly, nearly 16,000 Oregon young people aged 32 and under are approved for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigration status, but do not have health coverage.

OHEA Policy Recommendations:
1. Adopt a Basic Health Program for Oregon.
2. Restore Medicaid coverage to COFA Oregonians.
3. Extend comprehensive health insurance to Oregon’s undocumented children.
4. Open health insurance structures to Oregon’s undocumented adults.
5. Enable Oregonians in the “family glitch” to access affordable coverage.
6. Strengthen benefits and lower costs for reproductive health services.
7. Remove administrative barriers that deny service to transgender people.
8. Adopt a multi-pronged plan for improving rural health care access.
9. Lower costs for those with chronic conditions, including older working-age Oregonians.
10. Strengthen standards for dental and vision coverage in the commercial market.
Read more here.