Next week brings a day that we have been working toward for years at OHA.
Starting Tuesday, October 1, Oregonians can begin enrolling in commercial plans and the Oregon Health Plan through Cover Oregon. For the first time on the commercial market, no one can be turned away because of pre-existing conditions. Also, the Oregon Health Plan will be open to everyone who qualifies. No more waiting list. No more health care lottery.
It all starts Tuesday. And as you know, Tuesday is just the beginning. The weeks and months to come will bring both highs and lows as we help people get the health coverage they need while managing the inevitable bumps that will come from launching such a massive undertaking.
As we have been working to help with the launch of Cover Oregon, we have also been working on an additional enrollment option for the Oregon Health Plan. It's one that I am very excited about.
It's called "fast-track enrollment." It's available to some of the people who have already qualified for and are receiving SNAP food benefits or are parents with children in the Oregon Health Plan.
Fast-track enrollment is an easier way for qualified Oregonians to enroll in the Oregon Health Plan because we already have their information in our system. About 260,000 people qualify for fast-track enrollment.
Here is a website with more information about fast-track.
To make sure people know this option is available to them, OHA is sending letters to everyone who qualifies. The letter includes a one-page form for them to return to us in a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
It's simple, it's efficient, and it will help change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
We are also working hard to spread the word through our community partners and providers – letting them know about fast-track enrollment. People eligible for fast-track enrollment do not need to apply through Cover Oregon or through any other means. They simply send back a completed "fast-track" form and they will be enrolled in OHP.
We are also asking for help to get out another important message. That is, not everyone receiving SNAP or with children in OHP will qualify for fast-track enrollment. That's because their income exceeds the limit for the Oregon Health Plan. There are more than 800,000 people on SNAP and this is available to only a portion of them. But through Cover Oregon, there will be financial assistance available to help them buy coverage on the commercial market.
I also want to recognize and thank everyone at OHA, DHS and Cover Oregon – you all have worked so hard to bring us to where we are today. It has been extraordinary. Please take a moment to be proud of what you have done. Years from now when people talk about this time in history, each and every one of you will be able to say, "I was there. I helped do that. I made a difference."