Bill would provide health care for all kids

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Bill would provide health care for all kids

Published 5:22 p.m. PT Feb. 20, 2017 | Updated 5:23 p.m. PT Feb. 20, 2017

More than 17,000 children are currently excluded from the Oregon Health Plan because of their residency status.

To address this, Governor Kate Brown testified Monday before the House Committee on Health Care in support of a bill known as “Cover All Kids.” If passed, House Bill 2726 would extend health care coverage through the Oregon Health Plan to all Oregon children, expanding legislation passed in 2012.

“It is our duty to ensure that our youngest Oregonians have the tools to grow into healthy adults with access to education, health care, and a bright future,” Brown said. “Oregon children should have the opportunity to be healthy and ready to learn, and Oregon families should feel confident that a medical event will not dramatically change the trajectory of their lives.”

Brown has included the expansion in her proposed budget, allocating $55 million in General Fund money. Brown highlighted the importance of all children having health care coverage in her inaugural address.

Uninsured children are much more likely than insured children to forgo necessary medical care due to costs, and more likely to have unmet medical needs, according to a report by the Campaign for Children’s Health Care.

Additionally, the Oregon Latino Health Coalition cites insured children are 9.7 percent less likely to drop out of high school and 5.5 percent more likely to graduate from college.

The bipartisan legislation currently facing the Oregon State Legislature is co-sponsored by Representatives Alonso Leon, Gilliam, Hernandez, Huffman and Olson and by Senators Boquist, Monnes Anderson, and Roblan.

Fatima Preciado, 18, a Portland State University student and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, was one of the kids who did not qualify due to her residency.

“Because my siblings and I lacked proper health insurance, we were denied the right to live a normal childhood,” Preciado said in a statement. “Fear and worry instead consumed my everyday childhood.

“My mother struggled severely when it came to purchasing my sister’s medication,” she said. “There were times when my sister went weeks without medication, causing her to suffer severe uncontrollable epileptic seizures.”

The Senate Committee on Health Care will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 558, a companion bill, on at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Hearing Room B.

For more information, go to orlhc.org/coverallkids/ or call 503-523-7230.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

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