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Press Release: June 7, 2011

Consumers and small business will benefit from passage of Oregon Health Insurance Exchange

Governor will sign Senate bill 99: Quality, affordable health care for Oregonians

(SALEM, Ore.) –Governor Kitzhaber today signaled he will sign Senate Bill 99, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange, after the bill passed the House on a strong bipartisan vote earlier in the day. Senate Bill 99 creates a central marketplace for health insurance for individuals and small businesses beginning in 2014 and is one of two signature health care bills the Governor prioritized this session to improve Oregon's health care system.
 
"Oregon's health insurance exchange puts the power into the hands of consumers and small businesses," said Governor Kitzhaber. "A local Exchange accountable to Oregonians -- not the federal government – offers choice competition, value, and transparency. I look forward to signing this key piece of our health care improvement agenda."
 
Oregon's Health Insurance Exchange will make it possible for 350,000 Oregonians to have access to affordable, quality health care by providing a single marketplace where they can shop and compare the quality and value of plans. For the first time, Oregonians will have apples-to-apples information about health insurance and will know exactly what they are buying.
 
The Health Insurance Exchange will also help Oregon's small businesses provide coverage for their workers, which is central not only to the health of Oregonians but to Oregon's economy. And people who leave their jobs will have the option to keep their coverage.
 
The law explicitly requires that the Exchange be operated for the benefit of consumers and be accountable to the public. A nine-member governing board, who will be appointed by Governor Kitzhaber, will establish participation standards for participating health insurance companies to ensure individuals and businesses have free choice for the plan that works best for them.
 
The governing board must include at least two consumer representatives and no more than two representatives from various health care sectors, including insurance. Members must represent to the greatest extent practicable, the geographic, ethnic, gender, racial and economic diversity of our state, and Governor Kitzhaber is committed to ensuring all members he appoints share strong consumer values.
 
The Governor also urged the legislature to pass House Bill 3650, Health Care Transformation, which will create an integrated, coordinated health care delivery system for Oregon Health Plan recipients and is the second signature piece of this session's health care improvement agenda.

Media Contacts:
Christine Miles, 503-559-8795
Amy Wojcicki, 503-689-5324

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