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Her Cover All People plan would provide health insurance for the estimated 6% uninsured.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Gov. Kate Brown arrives for her vaccine appointment at the OHSU Primary Care Clinic in Scappoose on Saturday, March 6. She testified before the Legislature on a plan to expand the number of Oregonians with health insurance.Gov. Kate Brown has called on lawmakers to extend health insurance coverage to the estimated 6% of Oregon adults who still do not have it.

The Democratic chief executive testified Tuesday, March 16, for House Bill 2164 in the House Health Care Committee. Her proposed budget contains $10 million to cover 2,000 adults.

Oregon estimates that 94% of adults and all children have coverage under federal, state or private insurance.

"The pandemic has taught us this is not good enough," Brown said in her testimony. "And unfortunately, our communities of color have paid the price. Gaps in coverage persist, and these gaps are disproportionately borne by communities of color.

"Everyone deserves access to health care. It's the right thing to do, the just thing to do. And it's smart economic policy."

The bill would authorize the Oregon Health Authority to create a Cover All People program, modeled on the Oregon Health Plan, which as of March 8 covered 1.27 million people. It emerged from the health equity committee of the Governor's Racial Justice Council.

The new program would cover legal permanent residents, young adults who age out of Oregon's Cover All Kids program, DACA recipients (young people brought illegally to the United States as children) who have deferrals from deportation and undocumented adults.

Brown said the new program is not just socially responsible but makes economic sense.

"Across agriculture, manufacturing, the service sector and our health care system, front-line workers from our immigrant and refugee communities have gone to work every day during the pandemic to very literally keep our society going. Many of them worked through wildfires and breathed harmful smoke," she said.

"The very least we can do in a just society is to make sure they have access to this basic human right."

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