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Gov. Kate Brown requested a Medicaid waiver to delay income verification until after the state of emergency.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Oregon lawmakers say the pandemic could force changes to the state's health care system in the future.Oregon's health care system faces an unparalleled threat in its fight against coronavirus.

The war is waged on different fronts. For one, thousands of laid-off people will lose their health insurance and need coverage, likely through Medicaid. For another, the health care system itself needs to ramp up its ability to treat Oregonians with personnel and beds.

PMGGov. Kate Brown and lawmakers are drawing up early battle plans intended to cut through red tape, remove barriers to coverage and keep health care workers on the front lines. The task is daunting. Officials need to find ways to keep Oregonians covered with health insurance in the worst economic freefall since the Great Recession and beef up the state's health care system to treat patients in the fight of their lives.

Brown requested a Medicaid waiver on Friday, March 20, to delay all income verifications until after the state of emergency is lifted. That will allow people to submit their income information, which officials will verify after the crisis.

"In the middle of a pandemic, we want to do our best to ensure that there are not gaps in people's insurance coverage so they can get the medical treatment they need," Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor's office, said in an email.

Legislative actions are needed to face the crisis. Lawmakers are expected to meet for a special session in a week or two.


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