Cover Oregon and Other Healthcare Expansions---Update, March, 2014

The March meeting of the Cover Oregon Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) provided little new information except that enrollments by hand and, to some extent, using agents operating directly through the internet, are continuing, but still are behind schedule. Agents help clients with commercial products and community partners help clients who qualify for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP/Medicaid), and at least as I understand it, no agents have yet been compensated for the time taken out of their business to do this. The hope is there, but in this health care episode, there are many uncompensated players. Beneficiaries are those who have succeeded in getting signed up for Oregon Health Plan  or gotten lower cost and improved insurance coverage, many (about 79%) with federal tax credits covering part of their premium. Some who qualify, however, still lack coverage.

The relationship between Cover Oregon and Oracle continues to be difficult. The Oregonian reported on Mar. 13 that a federal report on Oracle and Cover Oregon is scathing. However, it did corroborate the statements of some Cover Oregon employees that Oracle had repeatedly denied requests for information--that is, Cover Oregon had attempted to manage the contract, but been rebuffed. Clearly, the contract itself had been deficient, based on non-existent trust.

At the April CAC, members will discuss what other things Cover Oregon can do to accomplish its mission of improving the health of the population.

One optional ACA expansion, Basic Health, is being studied. It is a program to extend health services to more low-income people (those under 200% of the poverty line), including legal immigrants with less than 5 years residence who heretofore have been excluded from Medicaid (OHP). A bill to establish this study, HB 4109, passed in March. A discussion I had with the Chair and Vice-chair of the House healthcare committee about what Basic Health is aired Mar. 10 on KBOO and can be heard here.

---Roberta Hall