| I was thrilled to be part of a historic event last Tuesday afternoon when Governor Kulongoski signed HB 2116 into law, creating the Healthy Kids campaign we have all been working for these many years. Under Healthy Kids, every Oregon child will have access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage.
Governor signs Healthy Kids bill.
"We will, at long last, bring health care to every Oregon child," Governor Kulongoski said at the signing celebration at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
Now the real work begins here at DHS. Our goal is to enroll approximately 80,000 children over the next few months. To oversee that effort we have created the new Office of Healthy Kids and hired Cathy Kaufmann to oversee it. Cathy comes to us with a long background in child advocacy, most recently at Children First for Oregon, and I know she will do a great job in this new role.
But she can't do it alone. DHS can't do it alone. It is going to take a massive outreach effort to get all of the eligible children into health care. Over the next few months we'll be rolling out an aggressive outreach campaign that will work with local community partners. You will see fliers, posters, and other materials in your workplace soon.
In the meantime, I'm asking for your help. Please tell your friends and neighbors that Healthy Kids is up and running.
To apply, they can go to:
or call 1-877-314-5678.
It will be launched in three stages.
Stage one has already begun. Today 60,000 children qualify under the current rules. As soon as we have permission this fall from the federal government to increase the income limit to 200 percent of the federal poverty limit, even more children will qualify. Families that earn too much to qualify for free health care will be able to apply for a private option in January. And for families that don't earn enough to pay the full premium, Healthy Kids provides subsidies based on income.
The most important thing, though, is that families shouldn't wait to apply. If they do not qualify today, we will save their names until the program best for them begins taking new applicants.
Remember, it's www.oregonhealthykids.gov/ or 1-877-314-5678.
All of us at DHS who had a role in helping craft the Healthy Kids Plan and moving it through the Legislature should be very proud and share in the celebration. We also need to get to work to bring these vulnerable children into the safety of a health care plan and continue to work toward seeing to it that all Oregonians can get the health care and coverage they need.