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Most Oregonians keep their Medicaid benefits as state unwinds pandemic-era protections

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Most low-income Oregonians enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program have kept their health care benefits as the state reviews the eligibility of people in the program. (Getty Images) Getty Images

More than 1 million low-income Oregonians will continue to receive free health care benefits through the Oregon Health Plan

BY:  – MARCH 26, 2024 || OREGON CAPITAL CHRONICLE

More than four out of five Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan have kept their Medicaid benefits so far as the state continues to unwind the pandemic-era protections that kept people enrolled in the health benefits regardless of their eligibility.

This means more than 1 million low-income Oregonians will continue to receive the free health care, dental and behavioral health services covered under the Oregon Health Plan. The state has reviewed the eligibility of nearly 90% of the 1.5 million Medicaid members, state officials said in a press release.

The federal government offered states expanded Medicaid benefits during the pandemic, provided they did not boot anyone off. Those benefits ended last spring. Since last April, Oregon Health Authority officials have been plodding through the rolls, checking that members meet the low-income and any other requirements.

Get help

To learn more, you can go here to get information about how to renew your Oregon Health Plan or call the ONE Customer Service Center at 800-699-9075.

You also can visit or call your local Oregon Department of Human Services office. To find your local office, go here

To find community organizations that will help you in-person for free, visit OregonHealthCare.gov/GetHelp or orhim.info/ayuda for Spanish-language assistance. 

To track your renewal case and stay up-to-date, visit benefits.oregon.gov.

If your Medicaid coverage is ending, you can request a hearing or try to get coverage through your employer. 

 

Oregon’s renewal rate is nearly 83%, making the state among the top three in the nation for keeping people enrolled in Medicaid, according to national data compiled by KFF, a nonpartisan organization that tracks health care trends nationwide.

About 224,000 Oregonians have lost or will lose their Oregon Health Plan benefits or see a reduction in benefits. Health authority officials are directing these people to buy health insurance on the federal health marketplace, which offers federal subsidies. About 146,000 people buy individual plans through the marketplace. Most people are covered by their employer. Oregon’s uninsured rate is just under 5%.

New insurance plan

In most states, Medicaid is generally limited to those younger than 65 who earn 138% of the federal poverty level – nearly $21,000 for one person or about $43,000 for a family of four. But Oregon obtained federal approval to raise the ceiling to 200% of the poverty level under a new bridge plan. That means a single person in Oregon could earn a maximum of about $30,000  a year in gross income, with up to about $62,400 for a family of four. In July, the application process will open for the new program.

State officials also have about 125,000 renewals left to process. Renewal letters will go out in four waves between June and September.

Members will have 90 days to respond and 60 days advance notification before their benefits are terminated or reduced. Final responses will be due in December, and the final group of cases will be closed in February 2025.

The state is still waiting for a response from less than 4,800 people who received information already.

Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Ben Botkin has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

 

 

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