Chris Gray

House Health Passes Bill Implementing Drug Take-Back Kiosk Network

The drug takeback kiosks will help consumers remove the glut of excess opioids and other medications from society, cutting off access for would-be addicts and protecting the water supply. A partisan furor broke out over how best to do this.

A divided House Health Committee passed a bill on a 5-3 vote to make it easier for people to dispose of excess medications, in an effort to curtail the opioid epidemic and to prevent drugs from contaminating the environment.

House Votes to Enshrine Dental Care Organizations into CCO Boards for Oregon Health Plan

Backers of HB 2882, including Advantage Dental, argue that the six CCOs that have placed dental care organization representatives on their governing boards have done a better job of integrating dental care. The bill will require the other 10 CCOs to follow suit.

The Oregon House unanimously took up House Bill 2882 on Monday, requiring that each coordinated care organization put a dentist from a dental care organization on its governing board.

Republicans, Democrats Split Over Surprise Billing Fix in Oregon House

Democrats and one Republican supported HB 2339, protecting consumers by requiring that unexpected out-of-network bills be set at 1.75 times Medicare. Republicans wanted payment rates set based on average market costs.

The House narrowly passed a bill 36 to 22 on Wednesday to protect patients from getting huge, surprise medical bills when they unintentionally and/or unexpectedly receive care from a provider not covered by their health insurance plan.

Steiner Hayward Wants Insurers to Increase Primary Care Investments

SB 934 would mandate insurers and CCOs pay at least 14.4 percent toward primary care, and would punish CCOs if they don’t make improvement. Meanwhile, FamilyCare claims the state is now actually penalizing it for “wasting” money on primary care.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton, is supporting legislation that would promote primary care innovations in statute and requires Medicaid plans and health insurers to spend 14.4 percent of their budgets on primary care.

Kennemer Wants to Allow Specialized Psychologists to Prescribe Medication

In 2010, Gov. Ted Kulongoski vetoed a bill to allow psychologists to prescribe drugs, but now that several states have taken the lead, the retired psychologist from Canby is pushing the legislation again, which he believes would expand mental healthcare access.

Rep. Bill Kennemer, a Canby Republican, is backing legislation that would give his old profession of psychology a greater role in solving the mental health gaps in Oregon, by allowing them to prescribe psychotropic medications for their clients.

Kotek Backs Proposal to Lower Hospital Payments through Public Employee Health Insurance

The House Speaker, backed by Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, says the state could save $30 million a year in overpayments to hospitals, which are now as high as 672 percent of Medicare.

House Speaker Tina Kotek wants to rein in the high costs that Oregon hospitals charge to provide healthcare for state employees and instead to peg the cost to twice what the federal government is willing to pay through Medicare.

Revision of PBM Law Sails Through House Without Opposition

HB 2388 makes a previous law regulating PBMs more effective and gives state regulators the ability to police bad actors who violate the law.

The House unanimously passed legislation Wednesday morning to better regulate pharmacy benefit managers, giving enforcement powers to the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services, designed to ensure the PBMs act lawfully and treat pharmacists fairly.

FamilyCare Asks for Transparency as Oregon Health Authority Dodges Hearing

FamilyCare has introduced new legislation to create a more stable and transparent rate-setting process for Medicaid. Opponents of the measure, including CareOregon and the Oregon Health Authority, avoided questioning from the Senate Health Committee; the health authority cited ongoing litigation.

Portland-area coordinated care organization FamilyCare is trying again this year with legislation to pry open the secrecy surrounding the methods that the Oregon Health Authority uses to set rates, which have repeatedly produced payment levels for Medicaid that are the lowest in the state.

House Health Bows to OMA Pressure, Passing Weakened Opiate Bill

Successful lobbying from the Oregon Medical Association blocked Rep. Greenlick and Attorney General Rosenblum from passing legislation that would have held physicians criminally responsible for open-ended use of narcotics for pain amid a prescription opioid epidemic that kills 33,000 Americans a year. OMA later responded to the article.

The House Health Committee passed a heavily watered down bill to curtail excessive opioid prescriptions, caving to pressure from the Oregon Medical Association.

Bill Would Require Emergency Rooms To Adopt Mental Health Discharge Plans

A separate bill from Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer would require CCOs and insurers to cover a behavioral health assessment in a crisis as well as its treatment recommendations.

Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Sen. Lew Frederick, both Portland Democrats, are back again this year to close additional gaps in the state’s mental health system.

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