From worries about covering pandemic costs, to flush with extra billions. The state of Oregon is coping with a much different circumstance now than it has in past months.
The Oregon Health Authority’s Dave Baden points out COVID-19 did put a lot of financial pressure on the state’s health system. “We needed to spend an amazing amount of money in the public health for all of the response needs.”
However, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, state leaders are working out how to spend a windfall of $2.6 billion. Health advocates like Baden argue for more investment in community based programs. “We now have augmented and provided support for so many community based organizations to do more work in the response to the pandemic. That continued work in an on going sustainable way is super important for everyone in Oregon.”
Other ideas include support for mental health, and health equity.
Baden hopes overall the money will provide, “Less yo-yo, more sustainable money, to have a better augmented public health system.”
Oregon Health Policy Board Vice Chair Oscar Arana says the money needs to reach those who need it most. He said the goal should be to “Make sure that the resources don’t just go to the folks who have the relationships and connections, that get to make the requests and asks. But that there’s also a very thoughtful and intentional process to really reach the communities that are most impacted.”