Legislative Updates

Senate Bill 526 outlines a process that patients and physicians could use to get health insurers to cover medications. Insurers often balk at the price of these drugs and try to force the patient to first try a cheaper alternative.

Patient advocates and pharmaceutical companies are backing legislation that would give physicians an easier time prescribing medication and bypassing “step-therapy” protocols, which health insurers use to limit the dispensation and purchase of high-cost drugs.

Feb 22 2017
A bipartisan group of legislators wants to close the gap to get health insurance to 15,000 immigrant children living in Oregon who are currently barred from receiving care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But unless a budget solution arises, the state stands to end health coverage to 350,000 people it already serves

Gov. Kate Brown renewed her commitment on Monday to legislation that would expand the Oregon Health Plan to cover all income-eligible children living in Oregon, regardless of their immigration status.

Feb 21 2017

End-of-life counseling sessions, once decried by some conservative Republicans as “death panels,” gained steam among Medicare patients in 2016, the first year doctors could charge the federal program for the service.

Feb 17 2017
The Joint Committee on Tax Credits will debate the scope and the length of the tax break’s extension, which is seen as critical to maintaining providers in rural areas, but criticized for offering an unneeded perk to wealthy physicians in affluent small towns.

The rural medical tax credit bill swiftly passed the Senate Health Committee on a 5-0 vote, setting up a six-year extension of the cherished perk for healthcare professionals who work in rural and exurban communities.

Feb 15 2017
The Oregon Ambulatory Surgery Center Association is likely to win approval of legislation that will allow patients to extend their stay while recovering from surgery. The association overcame opposition from hospital systems such as Providence Health & Services, which has invested in ambulatory surgery centers as a way to lower costs, improve care and reduce the need for larger facilities.

Ambulatory surgery centers could become a more attractive option for Oregon consumers if new legislation gets passed, allowing them to recuperate at the clinics for up to 48 hours after admission.

Feb 14 2017
Senate Bill 235 backs away from a compromise that public health officials and business owners agreed upon in 2016, and the two sides may have to come together again to win a statewide licensing program that could pass the Senate, protecting minors from tobacco while easing business concerns about a patchwork of city, state and county regulations.

The renewed push to require tobacco and nicotine sales to have a state retail license got off to a shaky start this week, with the hard-fought bipartisan compromise achieved in previous sessions replaced by a renewed political divide between the business community and state and county public heal

Feb 10 2017
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services would step in if a drug exceeded $10,000 or had cost increases greater than 3.4 percent. State regulators would index a price according to what other countries have negotiated for the drugs. Consumers would also see a cap on costs that they pay out-of-pocket.

Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, touted his aggressive and innovative approach to tackling uncontrolled pharmaceutical costs on Thursday, calling on Oregon to lead where Congress has failed and other state-based reforms have fallen short.

Feb 10 2017

After a bruising confirmation process, the Senate confirmed Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to head up the Department of Health and Human Services, by a 52-to-47 vote.

Feb 10 2017
A list of potential reforms to help stabilize the individual health insurance market were released last fall, but due to President Trump’s unexpected victory in the electoral college, the state is delaying most changes until after Congress weighs in on changes to the Affordable Care Act.

A top state official told legislators on Wednesday that regulators would postpone a list of recommendations that Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali Robison unveiled in November, citing the uncertainty of changes to the health insurance law from the federal government.

Feb 9 2017
The Oregon Medical Association agrees that prescriptions of addictive and deadly narcotic medications should be limited, but opposes Democratic leaders’ efforts to establish criminal penalties for over-prescribing.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick of Portland, and his fellow Democrat, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, ran into traffic on Wednesday at a public hearing on their proposal to enact criminal penalties on physicians who improperly prescribe narcotic medications.

Feb 9 2017