Legislative Updates

Despite a lengthy work group process and the support of Providence Health & Services, two major hospital systems are trying to stop ambulatory surgery centers from offering expanded hours and instead are trying to belabor the issue with yet another work group.

Salem Health and Asante Health System have made a last-ditch appeal to kill a bill to expand services at ambulatory care centers, in an apparent attempt to prevent competition.

Mar 24 2017
Two Republicans joined all 17 Senate Democrats to make it illegal to sell tobacco to people under 21, creating a uniform standard for adult substances such as alcohol and marijuana. The bill hit a few obstacles in the Senate, but an easier passage is likely in the House, where seven Republicans have co-sponsored the measure.

A bipartisan group of senators voted 19-8 on Thursday to raise the tobacco age to 21, matching the age of purchase and sale for alcohol and marijuana in Oregon.

Mar 24 2017
The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a series of amendments that would moderate the impacts on Medicaid, particularly for long-term care services for the elderly and disabled. But without any changes, these services would see a $150 million cut and middle-income seniors would bear the heaviest cost in the individual health market.

The Republican health bill up for a vote in Congress tomorrow could come down hardest on seniors and people with disabilities, cutting $150 million from state programs and capping the amount of money the state can spend on long-term care services.

Mar 22 2017

With prescription drug prices soaring and President Donald Trump vowing to take action, an old idea is gaining fresh traction: allowing Americans to buy medicines from foreign pharmacies at far lower prices.

Mar 22 2017
When health insurers use coinsurance percentages to determine out-of-pocket costs to consumers, their bills can be wildly unpredictable and often prohibitively expensive. SB 237 would require that health insurers offer fixed copayments for prescription drugs in at least 25 percent of their plans.

Patient advocates have put forth a proposal that would require health insurers on the insurance exchange and in the employer market to design at least a quarter of their health plans to use only predictable copayments for prescription drugs rather than requiring consumers to pay coinsurance or face a deductible first.

Mar 22 2017
The House Health Committee is considering legislation that would allow pharmacists to dispense additional types of contraception without a doctor’s note, as well as a bill that will require the Oregon Health Plan to set up billing codes to allow hospitals to be paid for inserting IUDs after mothers have given birth.

The Legislature’s two physicians are backing legislation that would further increase access to birth control, pushing Oregon further to the forefront of women’s reproductive healthcare.

Mar 21 2017
The American Healthcare Act, also known as Trumpcare or Ryancare, could leave rural hospitals in the lurch, causing them to hemorrhage money, as they did before the Affordable Care Act was enacted. Eighteen of these hospitals are in the district of Rep. Greg Walden, a chief supporter of the Obamacare replacement.

The state of Oregon projects that about 23,000 Oregonians in the healthcare industry could lose their jobs as result of the Republican healthcare bill, filling a critical hole in the analysis released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office.

Mar 17 2017
The hospital association argues for voluntary ER data reporting, seeking to avoid a new mandate or fees. But the state says the best way to ensure hospitals report this data -- and to help identify the misuse of emergency rooms for mental patients -- would be a statute.

The Oregon Health Authority wants Oregon hospitals to step up their data reporting to include information on emergency department visits, but the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems is fighting the legislation.

Mar 15 2017
U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.
A Congressional Budget Office report released Monday shows 24 million people losing their health insurance under the healthcare plan released by House Republicans. In Oregon, disabled people and seniors could lose in-home care, cuts would limit Medicaid, and could hamstring CCO efforts.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 24 million people would lose their health insurance coverage under “Trumpcare” by 2026, more than half of them poor people receiving Medicaid.

Mar 14 2017
Both bills were crafted by Rep. Rob Nosse, expanding access to vasectomies and reducing a government burden placed on transgender people wishing to have birth certificates that match their identities. Two years ago, physician Rep. Knute Buehler nicked the vasectomy bill, but he could not stop it this time.

The House Health Committee passed two of Rep. Rob Nosse’s bills on Monday -- sending to the floor a bill that would simplify name and gender changes on state vital records for transgender people, and another that permits nurse practitioners to perform vasectomies, improving access to the family-planning procedure.

Mar 8 2017