OregonLive.com, by Michelle Cole, February 23, 2010, SALEM -- Teens aging out of foster care will retain health care coverage from the Oregon Health Plan until they turn 21, under a bill that passed the House on a unanimous vote. All children in state protective custody receive physical and mental health benefits but most lost those benefits when they turn 18 and leave foster care. House Bill 3664 would allow coverage to remain in place until the youths turn 21.
State officials estimate that 98 teens would benefit in the next two years, with the number growing to 400 youths by 2013. Kids in foster care often suffer a higher rate of physical and mental health issues than others their age. They are also more likely to end up homeless. These young people face "a very difficult path," said Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland. Even so, he said, they can and they do "overcome barriers." The bill still must be approved by the Senate. The extra cost of providing coverage will be paid through a health care tax passed during the 2009 session and federal Medicaid funds.