OHA Looking to Revamp Oregon Health Plan

On June 1, the Oregon Health Authority released concept papers for their five-year Medicaid plan detailing an overhaul of Oregon Health Plan’s current services and outlining a way for the plan to cover even more care for the people using it.  

In the concept papers, OHA suggests that by offering financial assistance for a wider range of care, the government will save money on insurance in the long run. This includes expanding the circumstances under which Oregonians qualify for OHP and providing funding for preventative care.  

According to the concept paper, the overarching goal of the restructure is four-fold: ensure access to coverage for all people in Oregon; create an equity-centered system of health; encourage smart, flexible spending; and reinvest government savings across systems.  

One way these changes could impact Oregonians is that the gap in care caused by losing medicaid as a result of increasing salary or other circumstances could be filled.  

Officials have suggested several possibilities to fill this gap, such as extending OHP coverage until the individual can afford another health plan, or helping make the transfer to private insurance more efficient after OHP care is lost.  

According to Oregon Medicaid director Lori Coyner, one example of a non-clinical, preventative service which may be offered under a reimagined OHP would be mold abatement in the home of someone with asthma. These services could lead to improved health and decreased medical needs and expenses on the part of the recipient.  

Another way this reimagined Medicaid system could benefit Oregonians is by helping people soon-to-be released from prison enroll in OHP before they leave. By increasing accessibility to behavioral healthcare, addiction treatment, and mental healthcare, this move could help people reintegrate in society and reduce recidivism.  

All in all, officials say this new idea of Medicaid could help all people living in Oregon get access to much-needed healthcare and prevent unnecessary costs and medical expenses. At this stage there is no outline for how much the program changes may cost taxpayers.  

The proposal must now be reviewed and vetted by the federal government before it can move forward.  

By Ardea C. Eichner