In response to a letter from Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Health Authority will continue health coverage for 80,000 children and 1,700 pregnant women who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for vital health services such as prescriptions, doctor’s visits, preventive care and emergency care.
Congress failed to renew funding for the program in September, but Oregon secured $51 million in one-time left over CHIP funds to last through December. After that the state runs out of money to cover children on CHIP.
OHA notified the Governor’s office that because Congress hadn’t acted, many Oregon children could lose their health benefits at the end of the year.
In her letter, the Governor asked OHA to work with its coordinated care organization partners to extend coverage through the end of April even if that means creating a shortfall in the state’s budget to fund the program.
“These kids are from vulnerable families and they rely on CHIP to pay for vital medical care,” said Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority. “It would be a tragedy for them to lose coverage or have an interruption in coverage because Congress has failed to act.”
CHIP covers children from low- and middle-income families whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but who may struggle to afford to buy coverage in the marketplace.
Currently 120,000 Oregon children and 1,700 pregnant women rely on the federally funded program.
Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, Oregon must continue to cover 40,000 children in the program whose families meet the federal Medicaid income guidelines. Eighty-thousand children whose family income exceeds those guidelines are in danger of losing coverage if Congress does not act.
OHA has asked the coordinated care organizations to continue coverage for these kids through April.
CHIP funding has been an integral part of Oregon’s health transformation effort, which includes providing coverage for all Oregon kids. Ninety-eight percent of children in the state have health insurance.