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State needs more health care money

EUGENE — The Oregon Health Authority is requesting a more than 50 percent increase in state funding next year as federal funding sources dry up.

The health authority is asking for $3.33 billion from the 2017-19 general fund, up from the $2.14 billion it was given in the last budget cycle, reported The Register-Guard.

The authority administers most of Oregon's government-funded health programs, including Medicaid, the Oregon State Hospital, psychiatric and drug treatment programs and the public health division.

The large budget request is meant to cover costs after two major federal funding sources end next year.

A five-year waiver from the federal government is expiring next year. The program provided $2 billion to help Oregon support its Medicaid expansion, the Oregon Health Plan. Officials have applied for an extension but built their initial budget assuming it won't come through.

The federal government is also shifting some of the cost of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion to states in 2017. The government picked up the entire tab in the first three years. The policy made more low-income people eligible for government-paid health insurance beginning in 2014.

Under the funding shift, Oregon will have to pay for 5 percent of the cost of the expansion in 2017. The state's share will then increase every year until 2020, when it stops at 10 percent.