Oregon Health Plan is this state's Medicaid

Monday's Since You Asked answer might have given folks the wrong idea about Medicaid. It is a welfare program that has non-financial rules as well (disability, parent of a child in the home, etc.). Unless rules on this federally funded program have changed drastically since I was a caseworker in Michigan, an able-bodied employed person is unlikely to be eligible for Medicaid.

— C.M., by email

Well, as the state's former tourism motto once declared, things look different here. The Oregon Health Plan serves as Medicaid in this state because of an agreement with the federal government reached several years ago. The state is given a block grant by the feds and uses it to fund the state-run system.

It helps pay for health insurance for low-income people, even those working. OHP is available to adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That's about $16,100 a year for a single person or $32,900 a year for a family of four. It also provides Medicaid coverage for a variety of people, included the blind, people with disabilities and other special-needs populations.

After a decade of denials, the federal government in 2011 agreed to give Oregon a waiver — and $1.9 billion over five years — to run its own Medicaid program. With that came the stipulation that Oregon’s Medicaid program must grow at a rate that is 2 percent slower than the rest of the country. In early January of this year, the Obama administration extended that waiver for five more years.

To reduce expenses, Oregon developed coordinated care organizations to assist Medicaid recipients. The CCOs work with patients to attempt to get in front of expensive health care by treating issues earlier, before they become full-blown emergencies and hospitalization.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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