Chris Gray

Oregon House Approves Bills Decriminalizing Drug Possession

Sen. Jackie Winters silenced her colleagues with a speech saying that the War on Drugs amounts to institutional racism.

The Oregon House of Representatives approved two bills on Tuesday that mark a dramatic shift in the government’s attitudes toward drugs and addictions, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of six hard drugs and lowering the penalty in some cases from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Republican Pushes for Ballot Referendum on Oregon Health Plan Funding Deal

Rep. Julie Parrish is threatening to derail the provider tax, which was negotiated behind closed doors with the healthcare industry, requiring it to come up with most of the state’s matching funds to draw down federal money to support the Oregon Health Plan -- and continue a critical flow of money to hospitals.

Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, is threatening a ballot referendum to overturn the new funding mechanism for the Oregon Health Plan, saying she doesn’t support taxes on health insurance, although she did support an insurance tax just four years ago.

Kruse Leads Senate to Expand Oregon Health Plan to Immigrant Kids

An eight-year battle by the Oregon Latino Health Coalition is nearing an end, as the state plans to spend $36 million covering the last 17,600 uninsured children in the state, undocumented immigrants.

The Senate passed the Cover All Kids Act on a 21-8 vote Monday, with four Republicans joining all the Democrats to ensure that all children living in Oregon will have access to health insurance, regardless of where they were born.

Reproductive Health Bill Passes Embroiled Oregon House, Heads to Senate

Oregon Capitol Building
With a 33-23 vote, Oregon is leading the way in the opposite direction of most of America, as the state’s Democrats try to make it as easy as possible for women to make their own choices about reproductive healthcare.

The Oregon House passed the reproductive health bill, 33-23, sending to the Senate a controversial but hard-fought bill for women’s healthcare access that would close gaps in coverage to contraceptives and abortion

DEQ Director Says Cleaner Air Oregon Will Continue Without Funding

Advocates say lobbyists from Associated Oregon Industries twisted enough arms in the Oregon Senate to kill an assessment bill, not because they’re afraid of paying, but because of what a proper analysis might direct the state to do to make them stop polluting.

The director of the Department of Environmental Quality told lawmakers on Friday that the Cleaner Air Oregon program will continue, despite the defeat of House Bill 2269, which would have levied a fee on polluters to help fund the analysis of their impact on public health.

DEQ Director Says Cleaner Air Oregon Will Continue Without Funding

Advocates say lobbyists from Associated Oregon Industries twisted enough arms in the Oregon Senate to kill an assessment bill, not because they’re afraid of paying, but because of what a proper analysis might direct the state to do to make them stop polluting.

The director of the Department of Environmental Quality told lawmakers on Friday that the Cleaner Air Oregon program will continue, despite the defeat of House Bill 2269, which would have levied a fee on polluters to help fund the analysis of their impact on public health.

Kotek Kills OHA Rate-Setting Transparency Bill

FamilyCare had pushed for the measure, arguing that even information that the Oregon Health Authority submits to the federal government is kept from the public, making it difficult to divine how to operate in the capricious rate-setting environment.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, has spiked legislation backed by FamilyCare to force the Oregon Health Authority to be more transparent with its rate-setting process, dealing a blow to the continued operation of the state’s second-largest Medicaid operator.

Democrats Clear Reproductive Health Bill, Cutting Deal with Providence

The Catholic health insurer won an agreement that allows it to stand as the only participant in the insurance market that does not pay for abortions, as the state sets up a process to set up a work-around for these procedures.

The Committee on Ways & Means has cleared the women’s comprehensive health bill on a party-line vote, setting up an emotional floor debate at the end of the session.

State Insurance Official Says Individual Market Would Fail Under Trumpcare

The Obamcare repeal is projected to send individual health market consumers running for the exits, which would leave health insurers stuck covering only the sickest, most desperate people, leading to a death spiral, according to Pat Allen, the director of the Department of Consumer & Business Services.

A top Oregon state health insurance official told reporters on Wednesday that he anticipates Trumpcare would send the individual market into a death spiral if enacted, sending younger and healthier people fleeing and only the most desperate and sickest consumers left buying health insurance.

Legislators Hash Out 15 Percent Rise in General Fund for DHS

Funding has been secured for Oregon Project Independence to allow seniors to stay in their homes, and for General Assistance, which helps disabled homeless people get housing. DHS will end its live-in caregiver program in October and the agency will also no longer allow private payers access to its registered home care workers.

The Department of Human Services budget for the next two years is poised to rise 5.8 percent over the last budget, increasing to $11.2 billion in total funds to pay for services for seniors citizens, foster children and people with disabilities.

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