OCPP Encourages Poor to Gamble With Oregon Health Plan Lottery

News Release
January 28, 2008 Download PDF

After years of calling the state lottery “a bad tax on people with a poor understanding of statistics,” the Oregon Center for Public Policy has finally found a lottery that they want to promote.

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The Silverton-based think tank today urged poor, uninsured Oregonians to sign up for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) reservation list. Signing up for the list enters uninsured adults in a monthly lottery to apply for the subsidized health insurance plan.

“This is the only kind of lottery that’s totally devoted to helping poor Oregonians,” said OCPP executive director Chuck Sheketoff.

Starting today and continuing through February 29, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) will be accepting reservations for a lottery for new slots in the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid program.

Those on the reservation list will enter a monthly lottery in which people will be randomly chosen and invited to apply for the Oregon Health Plan. DHS will initially draw 3,000 names, and then a declining number in subsequent months until the program reaches its budgeted level of an average of 24,000 per month for the two-year budget period.

OCPP is encouraging all adult Oregonians who believe they might qualify for the OHP slots to put their names on the reservation list by calling toll-free 1-800-699-9075. People can also sign up online or by mail. The public policy center has links to information about how to get on the reservation list on its website, www.ocpp.org. The Department of Human Services has links at www.oregon.gov/DHS.

OCPP is also encouraging health care providers, social service agencies, and family and friends of the uninsured to sign up people for the reservation list.

“You just need to provide a person’s name and birth date and an address where the person can receive mail, even your own address,” said Sheketoff. “Then, if the person is lucky and chosen in the lottery to apply, the person will have to fill out the actual application.”

At its peak, the Oregon Health Plan served 132,000 poor Oregonians, but starting with cuts passed in 1995 and concluding with the closure of the program in 2004, enrollment fell to just 19,000.

“All Oregonians deserve the security that comes with health care coverage,” said Sheketoff. “We’re a long way from that goal, but this lottery is a positive step that will protect at least some of our fellow Oregonians.”

With over 600,000 uninsured throughout Oregon, Sheketoff noted the importance of the reservation list and the limited time to reserve a slot.

“It is vitally important that as many Oregonians as possible get their name on the reservation list for the health plan lottery during this one-month window of opportunity,” he said.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.