More Oregonians To Benefit From Free Medicaid As State Raises Earning Limits

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced the launch of its OHP Bridge Plan on Monday. Two years in the planning, the benefits will help Oregonians who fall within 200% of the federal poverty level, giving tens of thousands more access to the free health insurance program.

Oregon is the third state nationwide to implement the extension to Medicaid.


Oregon Health Plan

Covering 1.4 million Oregonians who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, the Oregon Health Plan (the state’s Medicaid) is accessible to those earning up to almost $21,000 per annum in the case of a single member, and up to around $43,000 per annum for a family of four.

The new OHP Bridge extends the limits to 200% of the federal poverty level and will see those earning about $30,000 per annum (of $62,400 for families of four) able to qualify.

See also: What You Need To Know About 2024 Medicare And How It May Affect Social Security Cost Of Living Adjustment

Traditionally, the federal government picks up about 60% of the cost of Medicaid, and Oregon pays the rest. Dr. Sejal Hathi, director of the health authority, said, “We know that these higher rates of coverage are associated with better health outcomes, with greater health care access, and with fewer health inequities.”

OHA officials anticipate that the plan will cover 100,000 Oregonians by 2027.


Oregon Free Medicaid Extended To More People

State Senator Elizabeth Steiner, a medical doctor and one of the lawmakers who developed the bridge plan under House Bill 4035, indicated that cost sharing in any form, whether it’s premiums or co-pays, is a barrier to care for people in this income range, resulting in decreased access to care. She said this is “counterproductive for the goals of the state.”

After House Bill 4035 was introduced in the 2022 session, a task force developed the plan. Oregon won approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to offer the plan under a Medicaid waiver. This will see the federal government paying much of the cost of the plan, with Oregon state covering the remaining cost.

Oregon expects to receive around $500 million in federal revenue to cover an average of 65,000 members monthly over the next 12 months according to OHA spokeswoman, Erica Heartquist. She said the state will probably spend $10 million to administer the program and also cover any costs not paid out of federal funds.

After Minnesota and New York, Oregon is the third state to expand Medicaid beyond traditional federal income limits, but the first state to offer coverage at no cost, without co-pays or monthly premiums.

Those who qualify for the bridge plan will enjoy benefits such as:

  • Free medical, dental, and mental health care.
  • Other Medicaid benefits, such as transportation to medical appointments.
  • Climate support, which includes things like a free air conditioner or air filter, to help patients cope with extreme weather events and wildfire smoke.
  • Housing support for up to six months.
  • Nutrition education and food assistance.


But the benefits that are not included under the plan include:

  • Long-term care.
  • Social services that were approved under the CMS waiver to improve the environment of Medicaid patients.


Dr. Sejal Hathi said the plan marks a “significant milestone” in Oregon, helping eliminate health inequities. Specific details of the OHP Bridge Plan are available online.

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