In Short

Interested in helping Medicaid patients? The state seeks applicants for a workgroup

By: - April 22, 2022 11:59 am

Medicaid enrollment in Oregon soared during the pandemic. (Oregon Health Authority)

Oregonians interested in creating strategies to keep and retain people on Medicaid can apply to a new workgroup the state is forming.

It seeks 12 volunteers, from a union representative to individuals who’ve lost Medicaid coverage to take part in the year-long workgroup. They will meet twice a month in May and June, then monthly through next April. They will be paid for their time. The Oregon Health Authority estimates they will need to spend 2.5 hours between meetings on reading and other activities.

Their mission is to develop:

  • Ways to obtain and update contact information for enrollees;
  • Strategies for communicating with members, providers and other organizations about the renewal process and how to get help;
  • Ways to prevent people from falling off the plan through the renewal process;
  • Strategies to bring in community organizations to help as system navigators.

How to apply:

The workgroup is linked to an audit of Medicaid members this year to verify whether they still meet the income requirements: $1,563 a month for one person; $3,191 for a family of four. During the pandemic, applicants have not had to prove their income levels, and the state did not boot anyone off Medicaid. 

The federal policies, which were contingent on states getting more Medicaid money, kept people on Medicaid who normally would cycle on and off, depending on their income levels. That led to the Oregon Health Plan adding nearly 400,000 new members to include 1.4 Oregonians.

The state’s health insurance rate jumped more than 1% to 95.4%, insuring more Black Oregonians and other racial and ethnic minorities.

“Oregon is committed to taking action to ensure that these gains do not end with the end of the public health emergency, when many of these policies expire,” the health authority said in a statement.

This year the state will need to verify income levels of all new and existing Oregon Health Plan members.

The Community and Partner Workgroup, mandated by a legislative bill passed in February, will advise the health authority on better ways to communicate with Medicaid members, help them with enrollment and in navigating the system. It went online early last year, but the ONE system at the Human Services Department has been backlogged by thousands of requests, forcing some people to wait longer than they should for benefits.

The workgroup will also advise the agency on conducting eligibility renewals, streamlining the process for obtaining essential information from applicants, ensuring that members stay enrolled during the verification process, giving members 90 days to respond to the agency and phasing in renewals by population.

The workgroup will consist of 10 to 14 members representing:

  • Four community groups
  • Up to four residents with Oregon Health Plan coverage or their legal guardians who bought insurance on the federal marketplace in the last year or lost all health insurance coverage;
  • Up to three health care providers around the state that serve Medicaid populations;
  • A union representative;
  • An appointed member of the Medicaid Advisory Committee;
  • An appointed member of the state’s insurance exchange advisory group.

 

 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.

MORE FROM AUTHOR