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October 11, 2013 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

These are strange times

"I think insurance is like having a security blanket. Not having it is very stressful. If you are hospitalized or break your leg, you are thinking how we are going to pay for it. It hangs over your head and you worry." ~An uninsured Oregonian

This week we join other public services across the country in the limbo that is created by the partial federal shutdown. At the same time, we are implementing the state’s health reforms and bringing needed health care to many. Reflecting the need in our communities, since October 1, OHA has received just shy of 50,000 responses to the "fast-track enrollment" option to join the Oregon Health Plan.

Here is what I know about the effect of the federal shutdown:

As you know, Medicaid is a federal entitlement program and is not affected by the shutdown. We will continue to enroll new members, pay providers, and serve our clients.

For our other federally funded programs, if a federal budget deal includes the provisions that the state will be reimbursed retroactively back to October 1, the state can operate as normal for up to three to four weeks.

A prolonged shut down of the federal government beyond that would necessitate some difficult decisions that would be would be made at a state-wide basis.

Right now all state agencies are gathering information about our federal funds and programs affected, and sharing weekly spending of federal funds to the state chief financial officer. This will allow leadership to have clear information in the event action is necessary.

I want to assure all our staff and clients that if there comes a time when the federal shutdown were to affect the agencies finances, any actions taken would be planned well in advance and in a way to minimize the effect. That could include using state general funds for a short time and spreading budget cuts over the rest of the 2013-2015 biennium.

We all hope it does not get to this point and the federal government begins operating at full capacity soon. In the meantime, I will work to share information as I have it.

OHA on the web