In my home state of Oregon, we have focused on improving and transforming our Medicaid benefit system over the last five years. Medicaid is government-supported health insurance for economically disadvantaged individuals. Under the Affordable Care Act, Oregon increased the number of Medicaid beneficiaries from 600,000 to nearly 1 million in just a short time.
Oregon's uniquely successful Coordinated Care Organizations developed as a new transformative way to deliver Medicaid benefits to all recipients and has demonstrated both financial and clinical success in serving its population. Annual cost increases have been held to under 3.4 percent for five years in a row for Medicaid. Additionally, quality of care and outcomes have improved with more than 90 percent of Medicaid members now receiving care through a high-functioning recognized medical home.
For many, especially the adults benefiting from the ACA expansion, Medicaid serves as a valuable safety net to grant access to quality care whilst avoiding medical bankruptcy. As a result of these benefits, individuals can participate in the workforce, earn an income, and potentially move off of Medicaid as their income increases beyond 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level which currently qualifies individuals as Medicaid eligible. Medicaid functionally works as a hand up for many Americans. A hand up to the opportunity, employment and higher wages.
After leaving Medicaid, individuals may gain health insurance benefits from an employer or may need to purchase it on the individual exchange if they are not offered benefits. As one climbs the income ladder out of poverty and out of Medicaid, the slope to prosperity remains steep. Purchasing individual health insurance may still be well out of reach for many in lower income brackets just barely above the threshold for Medicaid qualification.