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Passed by the House today, SB 558 ensures all Oregon children have the same access to health care, regardless of residency status
(Salem, Ore.)—The Oregon House today passed legislation known as “Cover All Kids” with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 558, co-sponsored by Representatives Alonso Leon, Hernandez, Huffman, Keny-Guyer and Olson and by Senators Boquist, Kruse, Monnes Anderson, and Roblan, now heads to Governor Kate Brown who is expected to sign the bill.
The Cover All Kids legislation will:
- Extend health care coverage through the Oregon Health Plan for all children in Oregon up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Ensure that culturally and linguistically appropriate community-based outreach is conducted to maximize enrollment.
Expanding health care to undocumented kids has gained support throughout the nation over the last few years. Oregon is the seventh state following California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, D.C., and Washington state.
“Today, we are celebrating a tremendous victory. For the first time in their lives, thousands of kids across Oregon will have the health coverage they need to reach their full potential,” said Alberto Moreno, Executive Director of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition. “We thank Governor Kate Brown, Speaker Kotek, Representative Keny-Guyer and Representative Huffman for their steadfast support of all children and we thank the many Oregon legislators who supported a bill that truly reflects our core values. Today is a proud day for all Oregonians.”
“We have a moral obligation to support Oregonians who face disparities accessing health care. Children rise to the top of that list,” said Representative Huffman. “I’m proud to support this policy that moves us one step closer to giving all children a healthy start in life.”
“I’m proud to say that health coverage will finally be a reality for all Oregon kids. As a sponsor of the bill, this has been a top priority for me for three sessions,” said Representative Keny-Guyer. “More children will get the preventative care they need to grow up healthy. This policy will strengthen the future of kids in every corner of our state.”
In 2015, the Oregon Latino Health Coalition organized a statewide coalition of nearly a hundred organizations and set out to win health coverage for all children who call Oregon home. The Oregon Latino Health Coalition has led the effort to give a voice to the more than 17,000 kids denied critical medical coverage because of their residency status.
Research shows that improved access to health coverage increases academic success and high school graduation rates. Medicaid-eligible children are also more likely to attend college, make greater contributions as taxpayers and live longer than kids growing up without health coverage and access to preventive care. Senate Bill 558 will promote the health of all Oregon children and put every child on the pathway to success.
Advocates react to the news:
“When kids are covered, there’s an immediate and long-term return on investment,” Imelda Dacones, CEO and President of Northwest Permanente, said “They have reduced emergency room visits, which is the most expensive venue of acute care, and also reduced hospitalization rates. They are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate college. They tend to have higher incomes and surpass their families’ incomes, so as adults they pay more taxes.”
"Children are children. No child should be denied the health care coverage they need to thrive,” said Tonia Hunt, Executive Director for Children First for Oregon. “We know that access to health care improves all aspects of a child's life. Cover All Kids will give every child a strong start for a healthy and successful future."
“For kids, health insurance helps create a greater possibility of a healthy, productive life. And Oregon is stronger when every child in our state has the opportunity to grow up healthy,” said Dave Underriner, chief executive, Providence Health & Services in Oregon.
“By committing to the health of all children, Oregon will help more kids do better in school, earn higher incomes down the road and ultimately pay more taxes. This was the right thing to do for our children and our communities will also benefit from a stronger economy,” said Jim Francesconi, VP, Moda Health.
"Access to quality healthcare for our kids isn't a luxury," said Nichole Maher, President & CEO of Northwest Health Foundation. "It's the hallmark of a state that knows a safe, healthy childhood sets the stage for lifelong health. Cover All Kids gives every child the dignity of care that will benefit them and our state for generations to come."
"Passage of Cover All Kids is great news for our patients and children across the state," said Laura Etherton, policy director at the Oregon Primary Care Association, the association of Oregon's Community Health Centers. "Coverage means that these low income children will have access to the full range of health care - from primary and preventive care, to specialty and inpatient hospital care-without fear of unaffordable costs."