The immediate goal of Cover Oregon (CO), interim director Bruce Goldberg reported to Cover Oregon’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC), can be expressed in three words: “enrollment, enrollment and enrollment.” To implement this goal, Goldberg said on Friday, Dec. 6, at the committee’s meeting in Portland, Cover Oregon has hired many people to process the program’s paper applications. Further, CO has contracted with a professional telephone call center to advise applicants what tax credits they are eligible for, assigned staff to make calls to seek answers from those who submitted incomplete applications, and has been training most of its employees how to process paper applications to speedily get coverage for all qualified Oregonians.
On Monday Dec. 2 several thousand applications were processed, many for enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan (OHP, or expanded-Medicaid). By Dec. 6 about 6000 were enrolled. OHP applications can be processed most quickly because it is a one-step process: fill out the application and if the individual qualifies, the application is sent to the state for enrollment. Those who apply for tax credits have a two-step process. Their application is examined to determine if, and how many, tax credits are available. This information is provided to the applicant who then must choose a health insurance plan. CO wants people to learn about plans using their website (www.coveroregon.com) before receiving tax credit information so they can immediately make their choice. CO promises that all of those who have sent in a completed application by Dec. 4 will receive the necessary information to choose a plan and send their choice by a Dec. 16 postmark date to assure that coverage can start Jan. 1. Additionally, plans are underway so that those who must have health care coverage by Jan. 1 (such as people in the high risk pool) have it.
About 55,000 paper applications have been sent in but about half had missing data. With the exception of OHP applicants for whom no deadlines apply, applications that come in late will get coverage starting Feb. 1. Questions can be answered by calling: 1-855-268-3767, or by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Some areas such as Benton County have navigators who will answer questions to help people with the process. (Benton County’s navigator Leticia Rodriguez is available, in English and in Spanish, by an e-mail to: email@example.com, or by phoning: 541-760-9591). Roberta Hall, on the outreach committee of Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates, is a member of Cover Oregon’s CAC and can provide other information (firstname.lastname@example.org).