Chris Gray

Coos and Lane Counties Now Lead State in People Sent to State Mental Hospital

People sent to the hospital to be treated after they are arrested for crimes has been a serious problem in Oregon for several years, but while Marion and Multnomah County have made progress, other counties, especially Coos, continue to send more than their share out of their community to the high-cost Oregon State Hospital.

Brown Gets Large Donations from Centene and ONA; Cambia Backs Buehler

Rep. Knute Buehler has spent $1.3 million in the past eight weeks as he works to fend off challengers Greg Wooldridge, backed by Right to Life, and Sam Carpenter, who has the support of former Senate candidate and Oregon Medical Association past president Monica Wehby.

Centene Corporation and the Oregon Nurses Association are spending big to help Democratic Gov. Kate Brown get elected, while Republican state Rep.

OEBB Bails on Wellness Program that Didn’t Show Results

The health benefit plan for teachers gave more than $10 million in incentives to members over the past four school years but was hampered in its attempts to verify whether the Healthy Futures program made members healthier or saved money.

The Oregon Educators Benefit Board spent $10.5 million on a wellness program its advisors now say didn’t show results in improving the health of its members, and OEBB had no way of knowing if it saved money on medical costs.

Long-Term Care Group Endorses Candidates in Contested Primaries

The Oregon Health Care Association is picking sides in the May 15 Democratic primaries, giving money to veteran Sen. Rod Monroe and supporting Lane County Medical Society director Marty Wilde for an open seat in Eugene. The GOP is trying to fend off a candidate who has disparaged Jews and Muslims in its Eugene nomination.

The Oregon Health Care Association has waded into the 2018 primary season, supporting Marty Wilde, one of two Democrats battling to replace outgoing Rep.

PEBB Keeps Inflation Below Peers, but Legislature Demands Lower Costs

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As medical inflation spikes back up to 6 to 7 percent a year after a lull linked to the recession, PEBB is having trouble keeping inflation at 3.4 percent, forcing benefit cuts, and calling into question the state’s ability to keep costs down purely through better coordination of care.

Oregon’s Public Employees Benefit Board debated a number of changes to its health package on Tuesday, attempting to keep costs under control without cutting benefits as the age of high medical inflation has returned.

New Insurance Commissioner Excited to Work in Progressive Oregon

Andrew Stolfi, who was hired in December, plans to reassess the state’s geographic insurance rating system, with an eye to increasing access in rural Oregon. He previously worked at an international insurance body in Switzerland and before that led the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Andrew Stolfi, Oregon’s newest insurance commissioner, started far afield from insurance, finance and health plans.

Allen Leads OHA Toward Health Reforms as Agency Dysfunction Subsides

The former director of the Department of Consumer & Business Services balked at the idea that there was any secret plan to crush defunct CCO FamilyCare. He also said neither he nor Gov. Brown have any interest in enacting Medicaid work requirements desired by conservative states.

Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen came on the job seven months ago amid a furor over the treatment of one of the state’s largest Medicaid plans, the last in a string of problems that doomed his successor.

OEBB Cuts Drug Benefit, Increases Dental Fees to Keep Costs Down

The board tried to avoid cuts to teachers’ health benefits by encouraging them to shift to coordinated care, by cutting administrative costs and by offering more catastrophic plans, but some small benefit cuts were enacted for the next school year.

The Oregon Educators Benefit Board approved a list of creative solutions to keep the health benefits for the state’s teachers below the caps mandated by the Legislature.

Oregon Tackles Rise in Maternal Deaths and Stark Racial Disparities

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The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee will be tasked with providing recommendations to improving health outcomes and reducing deaths and complications from childbirth. Maternal deaths in the U.S. are five times as high as Sweden, and African-American women are almost four times as likely to die as white American women.

Rep. Janelle Bynum said that when her mother was born in Jim Crow South Carolina in the 1950s, her grandmother wasn’t allowed to give birth in a hospital.

Concussion Release Law Passes Amid Heated Debate

The law will allow a larger range of medical professions, from chiropractors to physical therapists, to approve a youth athlete to play after a head injury, if they undergo an education module. Athletic trainers were removed from the bill, despite protests from Senate President Peter Courtney.

The Legislature passed the bill expanding the provider types who can release a student athlete for play after a concussion, but not before the bill stripped athletic trainers from the list of eligible providers.

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