What once was a five-year federal grant to form a health coverage program for employees in Wallowa, Union, and Baker counties—if new funds are not found immediately—will cease operations as soon as May 2013.

A Community Health Alliance (CHA) grant to support a program in those three counties went into effect in 2010, but a lack of financial sustainability cut the program down to two years, and later three years and nine months.

CHA programs have been in existence for 10 years and been successful in 20 different states.

Designed here to serve businesses that employ 50 or fewer persons, the purpose of CHA programs is to provide affordable health care for individuals by jointly funding their out-of-pocket expenses through the contributions of employers, employees, and community resources.

The Northeast Oregon Network, a nonprofit based in La Grande, was selected to implement the local three-county CHA program and still is seeking viable options to keep the program in operation.

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