Former state official: Thousands on brink of losing health care
Through my work as a co-founder of the Oregon Pediatric Improvement Partnership, which ensures children with special health needs receive the care they deserve, I have witnessed the need for greater access to quality, affordable health coverage across Oregon.
When this need was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress expanded health insurance subsidies to more Oregonians and Americans than ever through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), helping thousands of families find plans that fit their budgets. Unfortunately, as those same families are paying higher prices across the board, these subsidies will expire this year unless Congress acts soon. If no action is taken, Oregon's health and human services department predicts that 79,000 Oregonians will lose access to the tax credits, with an additional 31,000 residents becoming uninsured.
By making the ARPA subsidies permanent before premiums begin to rise for millions of Americans, including thousands of Oregonians, Congress can ensure that no family has to forfeit their newly affordable coverage or forgo insurance altogether due to rising costs. With prices at the pump and grocery store continuing to rise, the last thing our families and neighbors should be forced to compromise is their health care.
Just as proper health care is necessary to ensure our children's growth and development, it's also necessary to promote the public health of our communities as a whole. When our families, neighbors, co-workers and friends are able to afford coverage and, in turn, access health care, our schools, small businesses and neighborhoods can thrive.
I hope our leaders in Washington — especially Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden — will prioritize making the expanded health coverage subsidies permanent as soon as possible. Our well-being, financial security and public health depend on their support.
Charles Gallia is an Oregon City resident and former senior policy adviser for the Oregon Health Authority.
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