The Problem

Currently, employed Oregonians with disabilities, face a tough choice. Medicaid healthcare and long-term services and supports (LTSS) provide the services we need to thrive and prosper. Yet, we can never take a pay raise, job promotion, or gather assets without risk of losing our benefits. Medicaid has arbitrary asset and income eligibility restrictions in place. These restrictions limit our ability to prosper through employment while maintaining good health. Data shows that these restrictions result in us, and our families, being exposed to significant financial and health disparities due to poverty. Systemic barriers suppress our financial and health security. We are seeking a legislative solution that creates health and employment equity for employed Oregonians with disabilities, on par with the same opportunities that able-bodied Oregonians enjoy. The proposed solution permits us to continue receiving Medicaid coverage while working so that we may choose careers that let us earn a steady income and allow us to live independently and with dignity.

The Solution

We are proposing legislation to address this employment and health equity barrier once again during the 2023 Legislature Regular Session.

  • This legislation will allow Oregonians with disabilities to work, maintain private insurance, and remain eligible for Medicaid coverage for healthcare and LTSS needs by changing the income eligibility to the Employed People with Disabilities program. It will allow us access to critical services and supports while maintaining all the benefits of employment. Our current asset cap is $5000.
  • We are asking that Legislators empower the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) to expand the program that provides Medicaid to employed people with disabilities, including the coordination of benefits if that person has employer- sponsored coverage. This will eliminate the financial eligibility restrictions for our critical benefits.
  • Other states have already implemented similar solutions, including Washington. Working individuals with disabilities still need access to Medicaid and receive services and supports that cannot be covered under commercial insurance. So, this legislation will follow suit with similar programs in other states.
  • Last session’s Fiscal Impact Report put the cost of this legislation at $14.5M per year from the General Fund in a biennium. Importantly, passage would also spur more than $25M per year in Federal matching dollars each biennium as well, supporting nearly two-thirds of the cost at the Federal level.

The Disability Health & Employment Equity Coalition of Oregon is a group of stakeholders personally invested in the health and prosperity of the disability community. Medicaid and the Americans with Disabilities Act help people with disabilities but create a cycle of poverty and exclusion that contributes to poor health. Through state-level system and policy changes, we will strive to create equity in health and employment so the disability community can thrive and prosper in health and wealth.


We can make a difference in the lives of thousands of people. Currently there are around 1,000 individuals in Oregon who would be able to retain their benefits while staying gainfully employed with such a legislative fix. Their stories are important.

“Because I have a disability and require daily support to live independently, I have been restricted on what I can achieve personally and professionally. As a professional, the income and asset restrictions that I must abide by to be eligible from the Medicaid buy-in program literally means I cannot advance in my career. Personally, it means I live in constant stress. It means I can’t save for the oral surgery my son needs. It means I can’t have a financial safety net for emergencies, it means I can’t save to take my children on a vacation. It means I can’t acquire assets to pass on to my children which perpetuates the cycle of financial instability and poverty across generations.”
Charina Walker

Multnomah County

“Even though I’m healthy, I have many medical and care needs otherwise I’m not able to survive. I’ve come to the point where I have a critical decision to make: do I want to be medically healthy, or do I want to be financially wealthy? Because the way things are set up right now, I can’t be both. The income and asset restrictions that are currently in place are unfair and penalize people with disabilities that want to contribute to society and work.”
Casey Moore

Jackson County

“I am now a full-time employee…yet I seemingly live a paycheck away from poverty due to asset limitations that do not allow me to have more than $5,000 in the bank and a salary that is already stunted at the higher limit of Medicaid eligibility. Because of this I live in fear of financial collapse at all times. I ask you to take a hard look at the consequences of continuing asset and earnings limitations that disincentives work for those of us with disabilities. These tactics keep important perspectives from leadership roles and decision-making tables where our unique voices have been absent for far too long.”
Brook McCall

Multnomah County

More Information

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During the 2021 Legislature Regular Session, SB584 was proposed by members of the disability community and championed by Senator Sara Gelser Blouin. It was broadly supported and the legislation made it to the Joint Ways & Means Committee but it did not pass.

SB 584 2021 Oregon Legislative Video of Public Testimony –