Oregon has a reputation for creativity and innovation that brings national attention to the state. Recently we have had the honor of receiving some of that attention thanks to the success of the Healthy Kids plan in bringing health care coverage to uninsured children.
Oregon is one of the top states in the country in achieving success in this area, according to an announcement last week by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Over the past year and a half, more than 70,000 young people have joined Healthy Kids, bringing the total enrollment to just over 330,000 kids. That's an increase of 26 percent and earned Oregon both wide recognition and a $15 million performance award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
We are very close to reaching our goal of insuring 80,000 total children this biennium. We have reached this milestone thanks to strong community partnerships, a streamlined application and renewal process, and a creative and aggressive outreach and marketing campaign.
But we have also reached this goal because of one man, and as he prepares to leave office next week, I want to recognize the tenacity of Gov. Ted Kulongoski in creating the Healthy Kids program.
Over the time I have worked with Gov. Kulongoski, he has made his health care priority clear: get kids in the door so that we can prevent problems for these children and families down the road. He believes that health care is a critical component of early childhood development that helps children get a healthy start on life. He has been unwavering in his dedication to this cause. In 2009 he brought stakeholders together to create a funding package that renewed and restructured a tax on insurance providers, investing the revenue into health care coverage for all of Oregon's uninsured children.
As a result, almost every Oregon child has access to affordable health care coverage. Healthy Kids provides no-cost coverage for low-income children and low-cost options for moderate- and middle-income families. Families who earn too much to qualify for subsidized coverage can buy into the program at full cost. But the most important thing is that no family earns too much to qualify and every child on Healthy Kids receives high quality, comprehensive health coverage.
We have been proud to work toward fulfilling Gov. Kulongoski's vision that no child should be left out of health care and all children should have the medical care they need to thrive. For Oregon's children who received new health care this year -- and those who will receive health care in the future -- that is a legacy that lasts a lifetime.