Chris Gray

New PEBB Wellness Manager Expected to Analyze Myriad of Programs

Gov. Kate Brown recently ordered the Public Employees Benefit Board to hire a wellness manager. At the insistence of Sen. Betsy Johnson, the board opted to delay the expansion of one wellness program until the new hire has a chance to comprehensively determine which programs best improve health.

Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, spurred the Public Employees Benefit Board to think more seriously about cost containment at a meeting Tuesday, and the board agreed to slow down the approval of wellness programs until new staff could take a more comprehensive look.

Legislators Try to Avert Veto of Psychologist Prescriber Bill

Gov. Kate Brown announced a rare veto on Tuesday. She plans to spike a bill that would allow a limited number of psychologists to prescribe medications for mental disorders.

Gov. Kate Brown has threatened to veto House Bill 3355, which would allow psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications, but a trio of legislative healthcare leaders who work to pass the bill are still hoping to change her mind.

State Regulators Persuade Moda to Sell Exchange Plans in Lane County

The Eugene area and Tillamook County will now have a choice between Providence and Moda on healthcare.gov, after Moda Health initially declined to sell plans on the exchange. Most consumers will have three or more options in Oregon in 2018, but not most counties, as rural areas will typically have just two choices. Douglas and Lincoln counties will have only Providence.

Eugene consumers will have more than one option on the healthcare.gov online marketplace next year after all, after state regulators were successful in persuading Moda Health to sell plans in Lane County next year, as well as Tillamook County on the Coast.

Schrader, House Moderates Craft Bipartisan Obamacare Fixes

A draft of the deal released this week would scrap the medical device tax and the employer mandate for businesses with fewer than 500 workers. At the same time, it supports re-establishing up to $15 billion a year for reinsurance to help carriers with the costliest patients, and would guarantee cost-sharing assistance for working-class adults.

U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., has been at the center of discussions in Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this fall that aims to prevent the collapse of the individual healthcare market, as well as the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

Legislators Celebrate Achievements, Fret About Big Money’s Influence

Even as Democratic lawmakers celebrate new laws providing healthcare to immigrant kids and raising the age of purchasing tobacco, a continued fight over the provider tax dampens enthusiasm over the 2017 session.

The Oregon Legislature passed sweeping legislation around reproductive health, tobacco prevention and drug sentencing reform, but other priorities, such as protecting the state’s investment in Medicaid, protecting the environment and ensuring that hospitals deserve their tax-exempt status sputter

Legislature Passes New Standards for Long-Term Care and Referrals

Two consumer protection laws are designed to ensure quality and integrity among healthcare providers and agencies assisting Oregon seniors.

Strong bipartisan majorities have passed two bills to protect seniors, putting new quality controls into long-term care facilities and requiring referral agencies to register and act in their client’s interest.

Senate Clears Hospital Price Controls for Public Worker Health Plans

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems successfully lobbied to kill a measure to pay property taxes on clinics, a bill expanding hours at ambulatory surgery centers and a measure to make nonprofit hospitals to pay more on charity care -- but intense lobbying failed to block an end to price-gouging at OEBB and PEBB.

Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, overcame fierce lobbying from the hospital industry to shepherd a cost-containment bill through the Senate, saving the state $1 billion over the next decade, in part by eliminating hospital price-gouging of the health plans of state workers and teachers.

Oregon Set to Raise Age of Tobacco Sales To 21

In a ninth-inning victory for public health advocates, the Tobacco 21 bill resurfaced in the Oregon House, raising the age for the sale of cigarettes, but not the age of possession. The tobacco lobby hired former Sen. Margaret Carter to derail the bill.

The Oregon House of Representatives broke a legislative logjam and passed Senate Bill 754, which raises the legal age for the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21, on a 39-20 vote.

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