Merkley: Children’s Health Bill Covers Oregon’s Uninsured and Creates Jobs

Portland, OR – Today Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley toured the Rosewood Family Health Center in Southeast Portland and praised Congressional action to cover more children under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  Rosewood Family Health Center serves children who are covered under SCHIP.

 “The new children’s health bill is a huge victory for Oregon’s children, providing more than 40,000 uninsured children in our state with health care coverage.  This will improve their quality of life and their ability to succeed in school,” Merkley said.  “SCHIP is a program that works.  It provides health care coverage to children who need it most and creates jobs.  When President Obama puts pen to paper in signing this bill, he’ll be signing on to healthier families and job creation in Oregon.”

In a time of economic crisis, more and more children are in danger of losing health coverage.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, every time the national unemployment rate goes up one point, 700,000 more children become eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.  The reauthorized SCHIP program will help counteract this trend by providing health care coverage for 4 million previously uninsured children in addition to the 6.7 million children already covered through the program.  In Oregon alone, the reauthorization will provide an additional 42,000 with health care coverage, more than one-third of all uninsured children in the state.  

In addition to providing essential care to our children, SCHIP also creates and sustains Oregon jobs in the health care professions, something that is urgently needed in this challenging economic climate.  A 2007 analysis by Families USA examining similar SCHIP legislation showed that the bill would bring hundreds of millions in new federal funding to Oregon over the next five years resulting in $219.4 million in increased business activity, $80.9 million in increased wages, and 2,444 additional jobs for Oregon families.


 “The work being done at Rosewood and other health centers is absolutely critical in keeping our kids healthy and keeping communities vibrant during these tough economic times.  I’m proud that Congress is starting this session by making children’s health care a priority and helping Rosewood and other facilities provide necessary care,” said Merkley.  “We need to do more to provide universal health care to all our children but this week we have taken a big step in the right direction.”

The Rosewood Family Health Center offers comprehensive family medicine to a diverse patient mix of low income and uninsured Oregon residents. The clinic is a part of the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic family of community health centers.  Started in 1978, YVFWC is now one of the largest community health clinics in the nation, serving more than 100,000 patients in Oregon and Washington.  In the two years since the Rosewood clinic opened, the number of uninsured patients has grown an astounding 118%, or an additional 884 people.