The Oregon Health Plan (OHP) has issued a statement calling on the Trump administration to immediately stop treating migrant workers as expendable.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released the statement on Thursday (18 April) in response to the Trump Administration’s move to end federal funding for the Oregon Health Benefit Plan (OHBP) and other Medicaid programs.
“Oregonians and the people of Oregon deserve better from their government.
We need to be able to afford our health care,” said Carol Ann Fournier, chief operating officer for OHP.”OHBP is the first state-funded program that covers migrant workers.
We must not allow the Trump Administers ‘humane’ policies to be enforced.”
Fournier was referring to the temporary suspension of funding that is scheduled to end on 28 April.
“The Oregonian/OregonLive crew has documented cases of abuse, including rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
These actions are inhumane and will impact the health and well-being of Oregonians,” she said.
The statement comes after a report from the Oregonian newspaper and the Guardian newspaper in November 2017 that said migrant workers were being sexually assaulted by Oregon Health Workers (OHW) at the Port of Portland.OHP issued a written response to The Guardian newspaper article, saying the Oregonians were “aware of and reporting the incidents to their state legislators and state officials” and that the agency “has worked with them to address the situation”.”OHP has also reached out to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services to support them in their efforts to hold accountable individuals responsible for these violations,” the statement said.
“As with other state and local programs, the OHP is working with the Oregon State Police (OSSP) and their criminal investigative team to conduct their own investigation into the alleged violations.”
The statement continued: “The OHP has a commitment to providing care for our residents, regardless of the circumstances of their employment.”
Oregonians have been waiting since at least September to see whether their health insurance would be reinstated after the Trump Administrations decision to end funding for its Medicaid program.OHA says the OHBP covers about 15,000 migrant workers and pays them $1.2m a year.”OHSB is the state agency that pays the OHA, but our funding for Medicaid does not cover the OHSB,” said Fourniers statement.
The OHA said the OHWP’s payments to the OHOBS are already being cut in half.
“We have been unable to cover the costs of the OHIBS in the meantime,” she added.
Oregon Health Plan spokesperson Nicole Kostelnik said the Oregon Healthcare Association has been providing financial support for migrant workers for about two years.
“Migrant workers are a vital part of our workforce and we are committed to helping them stay healthy and on their feet,” she told The Guardian.
“I know the OPHB’s decision to halt OHSBP funding was very hard for the families of migrant worker.
The OHOBIB is an important resource for migrant health care workers, and it is a critical link to Oregon’s health care system.”