Amid the slew of bleak statistics contained in recently released U.S. Census data, one item shined brightly: a large drop in the share of Oregon children without health insurance.
The rate of uninsured Oregon children dropped from 10.4 percent in 2009 to 8.8 percent in 2010. Going back to 2008, when the rate stood at 12.1 percent, the decline is even more pronounced.
Oregon’s remarkable progress in expanding health coverage to 91.2 percent of Oregon's children demonstrates the important role that investments in public structures can play in improving the lives of Oregonians. The 2009 Oregon legislature and then-Governor Ted Kulongoski deserve much credit for Oregon's great strides.
The Healthy Kids program they created expanded and improved existing public health insurance structures. As part of the program, the legislature also offered subsidies to children from families with somewhat higher income to help them purchase private insurance.
Oregon’s progress in expanding health coverage for children demonstrates the important role that government can play in improving our lives, and offers hope that Oregon can tackle other serious social problems, particularly poverty. We just need the will and a plan to do so from our current Governor and legislature.