Need free or low cost health insurance? <BR>Gamble with the Oregon Health Plan lottery

Chuck Sheketoff

After years of calling the state lottery “a bad tax on people with a poor understanding of statistics,” I’ve finally found a lottery to promote.

Sign up for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) “reservation list” so you can get in on the Oregon Health Plan lottery.

This is the only kind of lottery that’s totally devoted to helping poor Oregonians.

It is vitally important that as many Oregonians as possible get their name on the reservation list for the health plan lottery during this one-month window of opportunity.

At its peak, the Oregon Health Plan served 132,000 poor Oregonians, but starting with cuts passed and signed into law in 1995 and concluding with the closure of the program in 2004, enrollment fell to just 19,000. With over 600,000 uninsured throughout Oregon the importance of the reservation list and the limited time to reserve a slot cannot be over emphasized.

All Oregonians deserve the security that comes with health care coverage. We’re a long way from that goal, but this lottery is a positive step that will protect at least some of our fellow Oregonians.

Here’s how it works:

Starting today and continuing through February 29, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) will be accepting reservations for a lottery for new slots in the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid program.

Those on the reservation list will be part of a monthly lottery in which people will be randomly chosen and invited to apply for the Oregon Health Plan. DHS will initially draw 3,000 names, and then a declining number in subsequent months until the program reaches its budgeted level of an average of 24,000 per month for the two-year budget period. They expect about 10,000 Oregonians will be added to the roles.

All adult Oregonians who believe they might qualify for the OHP slots should put their names on the reservation list by calling toll-free 1-800-699-9075. People can also sign up online or by mail or fax. Request forms to mail or fax are here.

Sign up people who need health insurance: Health care providers, social service agencies, and family and friends of the uninsured can sign up people for the reservation list.

You just need to provide a person’s name and birth date and an address where the person can receive mail, even your own address. Then, if the person is lucky and chosen in the lottery to apply, the person will fill out the actual application.

Sign up before the list closes on February 29th

Spread the word about the reservation list. Posters and brochures ahere.

Questions? Call 800-699-9075 or email [email protected]

  • Come On (unverified)

    but this lottery is a positive step that will protect at least some of our fellow Oregonians.

    You see a lottery to determine which low income people will get access to health care as a positive step rather than an abject failure? I think you demonstrate a tragic failing of those who profess to speak for progressive values. I suppose after the misguided debacle of Measure 50 in which the same people calling this a positive step also argued in essence that low income people should pay for their own children's health care, we shouldn't be surprised. I suppose you also cause it a positive step that the Oregon House Democratic leadership ordered that there would be no bills introduced in this upcoming session that would join a battle to find just enough alternative funding to cover low-income children; that might throw just a little too much sunshine on the lack of leadership skill Merkley and his deputies actually have. Instead give 'em a lottery and try to spin it as a positive step. Right?

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    I think Come On fails to recognize biting sarcasm when s/he sees it. My initial reaction--is this an Onion article? Holy crap--this is a depressing post for a Monday morning.

  • James X. (unverified)

    Of course this is terrible, but 10,000 new registrants is better than 0 new registrants, which is what we've had for the last four years.

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    So this is a lottery for the privilege of applying, & someone may still be turned down. Also for reasons not apparent, the applications will be time staggered.

    If someone is turned down because ineligible, will someone else be allowed to apply sooner?

    If current enrollment is 19,000 and budgeted level is 24,000 /month, how will 10,000 new persons get enrolled?

    Jeff, "Come On" is right about the phrase he quotes. Chuck starts off with irony, but the rest of the message following the quoted passage makes it clear that he's serious in that passage, for the reasons James X. states.

    It is too bad, IMO, that he didn't say something more like James' preface ("terrible", which it is) stressing its complete inadequacy rather than calling it a "positive step."

    In accentuating the positive here, we're saying in effect "1/60th of a loaf is better than none," (taking the 10,000 figure at face value despite lack of clarity) which technically may be true, but not much better. If it were an actual loaf of bread, we'd be talking about how to shave slices off of slices.

    This is one where the glass is 59/60ths empty, and we should not be focusing on the 1/60th full.

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    If we are unwilling to distinguish abject failure and surrender, and call them by their right names, from substantive compromise, how can we tell what people who call for compromise for the sake of "getting things done", notably in current primaries Jeff Merkley and Barack Obama, actually mean?

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    The 10,000 figure explained.

    The agency is budgeted for a biennial (24 month) average of 24,000 - given that they are already more than 1/4 the way through the biennium and have been below 24,000, they can go above that number in more than one month and still have an average for the biennium. Also, between now and the end of the biennium on June 30, 2009, some of the people on the plan today will get off and this registration list will be the place new names will be drawn from. And some of the folks added early in this process will not stay on the program through June 30, 2009. Thus, about 10,000 Oregonians who don't have health coverage under the plan today are expected to realize coverage under the lottery.

    Is the expansion sufficient. Absolutely not. A significant registration list will show our legislators and voters that there are real people in need behind the statistics of uninsurance.

    So sign up and help get people signed up.

  • Susan Tillitt (unverified)

    WHHHHHHHHHHY aren't people marching in the streets over this? Seriously! We should be fighting mad for what is happening to this country. WE NEED UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE - TODAY. People need to stop reading this blog and take it to the streets with their pitchforks and torches.

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