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DHS news release

April 24, 2008

Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
Program contact: Karen House 503-945-6254

More than 600 uninsured adults found eligible for medical coverage so far

Early data indicate that more than 600 uninsured, low-income Oregon adults have been found eligible so far for health care coverage as a result of returning applications for the Standard benefit package of the Oregon Health Plan.

The Oregon Department of Human Services released the early number Thursday with a reminder that Friday is the deadline for people to return OHP-Standard applications they received in March. (People who received applications in April have until May 23 to return them.)

So far, more than 2,000 of the 3,000 applications mailed in March have been returned. State eligibility workers continue to screen many of them for eligibility.

Although most of those people found eligible will be covered by OHP-Standard, some who didn't qualify for Standard were found eligible for other DHS medical programs. More than 100 OHP-Standard applications were referred to the DHS Seniors and People with Disabilities Division for possible eligibility for SPD medical programs.

"We had expected virtually everyone who received an application would return it and are surprised the return rate so far is not higher," said Lynn Read, senior deputy administrator in the state Medicaid office in DHS. "We have vigorously reached out through the mail, phone calls and the news media encouraging people to return their applications by the deadline."

During five weeks in January and February, the names of more than 91,000 Oregonians were put on a reservation list for a chance to receive an application.

Uninsured adults who considered themselves low income were encouraged to put their names on a reservation list, from which a computer will randomly draw 3,000 names each month to receive applications until all available openings are filled. The program, which now enrolls 17,576, can support a monthly average of 24,000 adults during the two-year budget period.

Read said people may submit their applications even if they have not obtained all needed documentation, such as that for income or citizenship; that assistance in completing the application is available by calling 1-800-699-9075 (or, for hearing-impaired people, 503-378-7800); and that replacement applications are available from any DHS office, Area Agency on Aging office or by calling 1-800-359-9517. She said people requesting replacement applications should say they were selected from the OHP-Standard reservation list so they are given the correct application; applications for OHP-Standard submitted on other state medical forms will not be honored.

She urged people needing to meet Friday's deadline to drop off their applications by 5 p.m. at any DHS office or Area Agency on Aging office rather than using the mail.

To be eligible for OHP-Standard, average monthly household income must be below the federal poverty level ($1,467 for a household of three).

OHP-Standard covers physician services, prescription drugs, mental health and chemical dependency services, emergency medical services, and limited dental, hospital and vision services.

Three thousand OHP-Standard applications were mailed in both March and April, and another 3,000 will be mailed May 7.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Plan's Plus program is always open to people who are aged, blind, disabled, pregnant, younger than 19 or people who qualify for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. To request an application, call 1-800-359-9517.

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