LA GRANDE - While the Legislature decides next year's funding for the Oregon Health Plan, Gloria Kinyon is trying to keep herself and her family from falling through the cracks of a system that has been under pressure to reduce expenses for the past two years.

Her caseworker at the Department of Human Services, Carolyn Caswell, said she couldn't predict what would happen to the family's medical coverage under the Oregon Health Plan.

After having most of her teeth pulled in August 2001, Kinyon will finally be able to have dentures fitted at a cost of $1,250, which was raised by the Reach Out Volunteer Program run by the Center for Human Development in La Grande.

Kinyon, who lives in Elgin with her five children, lost her dental coverage in 2003 due to changes in the Health Plan.

She had been on a waiting list for dentures for more than a year.

Kinyon and all five children have serious lung problems, either asthma or emphysema, and require medication.

Joe Kinyon lost his medical coverage when he turned 19 last month and was unable to afford the six medications he needs for diabetes and asthma.

The Center for Human Development's volunteer program helped him get his medications. He now has his own medical card, good until May 1. His status after that is unknown.

Suzanne Madden, who directs CHD's volunteer program, said it's meant to help at-risk citizens in Union County. As the Oregon Health Plan cuts services, more and more people will seek help from Madden's agency.

Caswell said the Family Health Insurance Assistance Program (FHIAP) is being developed to subsidize the cost of private medical insurance for low-income families. The families are to contact FHIAP and a private insurer to complete these arrangements.

Caswell said that depending on family income, the subsidy might cover 50 percent to 95 percent of the cost of insurance.

Kinyon applied for Social Security disability in 2001 after leaving her last job with Wal-Mart in La Grande. She said this was due to a back injury she received while working in motel maintenance and carrying air conditioners.

As her Social Security disability has not yet been approved and is under appeal, Kinyon said the family is covered under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

Keith Kinyon, father of all five children, died in January 2004. Gloria Kinyon will receive Social Security survivor's benefits until her son Brandon turns 16 in 2008.

Brandon, 12; Daniel, 14; Desiree, 16; Lerisa, 17 and Daniel, 19, all take medication for breathing problems.

Lerisa recently had a benign tumor removed from her neck. She has torn ligaments in her ankles that will require physical therapy or surgery. Her medical coverage won't pay for the physical therapy.

According to Kinyon, the entire family began suffering respiratory problems after they lived in Mabton, Wash., in the late 1990s. She said no specific cause has been identified, but that doctors have commented on what has become a serious family health problem.

Families covered under the Oregon Health Plan began paying monthly premiums and co-payments for prescriptions and doctors visits since February 2002.

Caswell said that Department of Human Services has been more strict about enforcing these requirements since the state budget crisis has jeopardized Health Plan funding.

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