FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2010
Contact: Michael Cox (503) 986-1904
House Passes Several Health Care Bills
Bills will train home care workers, increase vision screening, expand Oregon Health Plan to some adult foster children
SALEM – The House today passed three health care bills, designed to train home care workers, increase vision screening and expand the Oregon Health Plan to some adult foster children.
HB 3618 would bring home care workers who care for medically fragile children or people with developmental disabilities or mental illness under the Home Care Commission. This would qualify these home care workers for training and workers compensation.
In 2000, Oregon voted to amend the State Constitution to create the HCC. The Commission is responsible for ensuring the quality of home care services funded by the Department of Human Services for seniors and people with disabilities. Many providers of services are covered by the HCC, but some care providers, such as those serving medically fragile children or people with developmental disabilities or mental illness, typically are not under the HCC.
“These programs provide crucial support to individuals, allowing them to maintain their autonomy, their independence and their dignity,” said Representative Michael Dembrow (D-NE Portland/Parkrose/Maywood Park), the bill’s chief sponsor. “By bringing these home care workers under the Home Care Commission, we are giving them the chance for training and benefits that will improve the care they give.”
HB 3626 directs Department of Education to establish a pilot program to operate in three school districts to provide vision screenings to students, the goal of which is to provide vision screenings to the greatest number of students possible in grades 1 through 8.
"It is smart public policy to make sure no child in Oregon has a vision problem that keeps them from succeeding in school,” said Representative Tina Kotek (D-N/NE Portland), who carried the bill on the House floor. “This bill is a targeted investment to create the best vision screening model possible to help all children succeed."
HB 3664 allows individuals from ages 18 to 21 to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan who, immediately prior to their 18th birthdays, were in a foster family home or licensed child-caring agency or institution, and ones for whom a public agency of Oregon is assuming financial responsibility. Children in foster care are eligible for Medicaid-funded health care. This measure would extent that eligibility through a child’s 21st year. These young adults would be added to the Health Care for All Oregonian Children, a 2009 initiative to expand health coverage for children. Last session, Rep. Greenlick spearheaded that effort, which will provide health coverage for 80,000 kids in Oregon.
“When children of parents with health insurance reach the age of 18 they may remain on their parents’ health insurance policy, but when children in foster care reach their 18th birthday they lose their coverage,” said Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), who championed the bill on the House floor. “HB 3664 recognizes that the state of Oregon has the parental responsibility for these children and gives them the chance for coverage through their 21st year. These kids face extraordinary special challenges. Maintaining their health coverage will help them overcome these challenges on their way to a successful life.”
All three bills now move to the Senate for consideration.