Contact: Rose King, 503.863.1363, 

SB 558 ensures every child who calls Oregon home has equal access to health care

(Salem, Ore.)—The Senate Committee on Health Care today passed Senate Bill 558. The bill, known as “Cover All Kids” will extend health care coverage through the Oregon Health Plan to all Oregon kids, ensuring every child has the same opportunity to grow up healthy. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Boquist, Kruse and Roblan and by Representatives Alonso Leon, Huffman and Olson.  

Studies show that for children, having access to health care results in improved education outcomes and higher incomes later in life. The proposed Cover All Kids legislation will strengthen future economic opportunities for Oregon children by ensuring every kid has access to critical health coverage. Oregon will benefit from having a more skilled workforce and a stronger economy. The bill now moves to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. 

“I’m proud of this legislation and grateful to my colleagues for their support. Promoting children’s health is not only the right thing to do, it’s a valuable economic investment for our state,” said Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Care. “Investing in the health of our kids now will deliver the skilled workforce we need to boost Oregon’s economy down the road.” 

Over the past decade, Oregon has made significant strides toward ensuring every child has access to quality, affordable health care. However, more than 17,000 kids are currently excluded from Oregon Health Plan because of their residency status. 
Oregon Governor Kate Brown is a strong proponent of the Cover All Kids legislation. Earlier this month, Governor Brown testified before the House Committee on Health Care in support of House Bill 2726  a companion bill introduced in the Oregon House.  

Both Senate Bill 558 and House Bill 2726 have bi-partisan support and are backed by the Oregon Latino Health Coalition which represents nearly a hundred organizations including community based organizations, CCOs, insurers, hospitals, educators, labor unions and community members. 

“Today, we are one step closer to a stronger and more equitable economy, where every child has the health care they need to reach their full potential. It’s time for Oregon to stand up for our core value of healthy children and ensure that all children are on the path to a stronger, healthier future,” said Linda Roman, Director of Health Policy & Government Relations for Oregon Latino Health Coalition.

Health insurance is a key factor in determining whether children receive the medical care they need. Studies show that uninsured children are much more likely than insured children to forgo necessary medical care due to costs, and much more likely to have unmet medical needs.

“Because my siblings and I lacked proper health insurance, we were denied the right to live a normal childhood. Fear and worry instead consumed my every day childhood,” said Fatima Preciado, an 18 year old Portland State University student who grew up without adequate health coverage. “My mother struggled severely when it came to purchasing my sister’s medication. There were times when my sister went weeks without medication, causing her to suffer severe uncontrollable epileptic seizures.” 

The bill now awaits its next hearing in the Ways and Means Committee. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Health Care is expected to hold a work session on House Bill 2726, the companion bill introduced in the Oregon House. 

AuthorChristine Saunders