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Oregon uninsured rate plummets!

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October 2016

Oregon uninsured rate plummets

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Oregon is now among the top tier of states with the highest percentage of residents with health care coverage, according to a newly released federal study. Since 2010 Oregon has improved its position from 37th in the nation to 19th in the ranking of states with the highest percentages of residents who have health insurance.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), the uninsurance rate for Oregon is 7 percent, down from 9.7 percent in 2014. The national average of uninsured Americans is 9.4 percent.

Oregon’s improvements follow the state’s decision to expand coverage under the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), states had the option to provide Medicaid coverage to individuals and families who earn 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Oregon is one of 32 states nationwide to expand Medicaid coverage. As a result of Medicaid expansion and coverage through the marketplace:


  • Insured rate rises: Approximately 3.64 million Oregonians have insurance, while 204,000 Oregonians continue to lack coverage.
  • OHP enrollment increases: Over the past three years, more than 400,000 people were added to the Oregon Health Plan, which now covers one in four Oregonians.
  • Fewer young adults lack coverage: The uninsured rate for adults 18-34 has been cut in half to less than 20 percent, from above 40 percent in 2011.
  • OHP covers working families: At least one adult works in 74 percent of households with OHP coverage where members are below retirement age.

To learn more about insurance coverage in Oregon, see the Oregon Health Insurance Survey site.

New report shows health reform is working in Oregon

Avoidable emergency department utilization, statewide

A new report to the Legislature shows the state’s health reform strategy has increased health coverage, improved health outcomes and contained health care costs in the state’s Medicaid program.

“Oregon’s Health System Transformation Quarterly Legislative Report” also shows that coordinated care organizations (CCOs) are financially stable, with operating margins remaining healthy even as the state has adjusted rates. CCOs are health plans that serve most Oregon Health Plan members. They are key parts of Oregon’s health reform strategy.

The report found that CCOs helped Oregon meet quality of care and financial goals:

  • Quality of care: Avoidable emergency visits for OHP members have dropped 50 percent since 2011. CCOs have improved access to primary and preventive care.
  • Cost containment: Oregon held cost growth in its Medicaid program to 3.4 percent since 2013, saving taxpayers $1.3 billion. Oregon’s growth is below the 4.4 to 5.4 percent Medicaid increase other states are experiencing.
  • Most OHP members are served through CCOs: Nearly nine out of 10 OHP members are enrolled in a CCO.

Federal government signals positive view of key issues in Oregon’s waiver renewal


In July Oregon filed for renewal of its Medicaid waiver from the federal government. Under Oregon’s renewal application, Oregon’s waiver would extend to 2020 and the state would receive $250 million per year in federal funds (if approved). The waiver would accelerate Oregon’s health transformation strategy and maintain the state’s commitment to hold health costs to a 3.4 percent growth limit.

Last week, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter affirming its commitment to “continue the state’s innovative work to transform the delivery of health care” and address key issues related to Oregon’s waiver renewal application this fall. Eliot Fishman, director of CMS’ state demonstration group, wrote:

“I am excited about the progress Oregon has made over the past four years and look forward to partnering with the state on a renewal to maintain Oregon’s momentum to transform the Medicaid delivery system. CMS is supportive of Oregon’s health system transformation and we have viewed Oregon efforts as a promising model. … We are committed to working through the major policy questions in the waiver by the end of the year.”


OHA submits 2017-2019 budget request

Earlier this month, OHA submitted a $3.145 billion general fund budget request for the 2017-2019 biennium. OHA’s budget request is based on current law, projected caseload and known revenue. The request is the first step in the budget process. Here is an overview of OHA’s request:

  • Total Fund request: OHA’s Total Fund request is $20.8 billion, a 1 percent increase above the Total Funds budget for the 2015-2017 biennium.
  • Continue to contain costs: The budget assumes the Medicaid program will continue to grow at 3.4 percent per member per year.
  • Maintain health coverage and avoid costs: OHA’s budget would maintain OHP coverage for the ACA expansion population and continue Oregon’s investment in health transformation – which has saved $1.3 billion since 2013 and is projected to avoid $10.5 billion in health costs by 2022.
  • Reduced federal funding and loss of one-time revenue: The budget reflects reduced federal reimbursement for the Medicaid expansion population, as well as reductions in other federal match rates and funds. (Under the ACA, the federal government initially covered 100 percent of the costs, but that will be reduced to 90 percent by 2020.) In addition, OHA projects a drop in revenue from tobacco tax and Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
  • Potential waiver renewal funds not included in budget request: At this time, OHA’s budget request does not include any potential revenue from Oregon’s Medicaid waiver renewal application.
Oregon bends the cost curve and avoids billions in health care costs

Share your views on health policy

CCO listening sessions: The Oregon Health Policy Board is conducting a listening tour to get feedback on CCOs from primary care providers, OHP members and the broader community. The next meetings are:

  • October 7 – noon to 2:30 p.m., Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, 1705 East Airport Road, Hermiston
  • October 18 – 4:30-7 p.m., Ambridge Event Center Ballroom, 1333 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Portland

If you can’t attend a listening tour session, you can also share your input through an online survey.

Cleaner Air Oregon regional forums: This month state environmental quality regulators and health experts have been holding regional forums to seek input on new air quality regulations. The input will be shared with the Cleaner Air Oregon Regulatory Advisory Committee. That advisory committee will meet from October 2016 through April 2017 and provide input into the drafting of new air toxics rules.

Forums have been held in Medford, Bend and Pendleton. Join us for the next forum:

Wednesday, October 5, 6-8:30 p.m.
Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Ballroom
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd