Chris Gray

Lawmakers Increase Mental Health Investments

A good economy has produced rising revenues for the state of Oregon, which allowed legislators to add almost $5 million in mental health investments.

The closeout budget bill for the 2018 session included a number of new social service items, particularly with investments in mental health.

School-based health centers won their request of $950,000 to hire more mental health therapists.

Coalition for a Healthy Oregon Backs CCO Transparency Bill

A last-minute intervention by Senate President Peter Courtney made a slight amendment to the bill’s creation of public meetings for coordinated care organizations, leading to unified support from the Medicaid insurers and a 28-1 approval vote in the Senate.

The Senate has passed the coordinated care organization transparency bill with the surprise last-minute support of the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, the group of seven CCOs that had long opposed the bill, particularly its re

House Overwhelmingly Passes Six-Year Extension to Nursing Home Tax

The Oregon Health Care Association lobbied to for an early vote to extend the tax to 2026, providing stability to their businesses and the state. The tax raises about $70 million a year for vulnerable seniors.

The Oregon House of Representatives voted 53 to 3 to renew the tax on nursing home facilities by six years, extending the tax through 2026.

Bill Expanding Concussion Release Law Faces Resistance in House

Senate Bill 1547 passed the Senate unanimously despite a lengthy list of opponents, including the Oregon Medical Association. It adds a training regimen for non-physicians if they wish to be authorized to approve a youth athlete to return to play after a head injury.

A proposed change to the law allowing youth athletes to be returned to play after a concussion passed the House Health Committee on Friday after a heated debate in the committee on Wednesday that delayed the vote.

Doctors and Health Plans Strike Last-Minute Deal on Uncontracted Payments

A consensus emerged pegging rates to the median from the all-payer, all-claims database, averting confusion when a new law protecting consumers from surprise billing takes effect on March 1.

Physicians and health insurers have struck a deal on the problem of payment for uncontracted providers, pegging reimbursements to the state’s All-Payer, All-Claims database, in a deal that the Senate Health Committee approved on Wednesday.

CCO Reform Bill Heads for Floor Vote and Possible Partisan Scuffle

In a tense, party-line committee vote, Democrats and Republicans accused each other of being unreasonable and unwilling to negotiate.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick shepherded his latest attempt at reform of the coordinated care organizations through the House Health Committee on Wednesday, setting up a probable partisan battle on the House floor.

Hospital Association Kills Greenlick’s Attempt to Clarify Charity Care for Patients

The spokesman for the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems said member hospitals are already giving notice to patients about financial assistance in paying medical bills, but Rep. Mitch Greenlick wanted uniform standards across the state hospital system.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems has derailed a legislative attempt to make its members streamline their charity care services and provide a common form describing how to qualify for financial assistance for medical care across all hospitals.

Oregon House Sponsors Right to Healthcare Ballot Referral

The House of Representatives voted on party lines to ask voters to amend the constitution to add healthcare to the state bill of rights.

The Oregon House has voted 35-25 to refer a constitutional amendment to the voters this Nov. 6 that would acknowledge a right to affordable healthcare.

Drug Transparency Bill Clears First Hurdle

A separate bill to require health insurers to be more transparent about costs and formularies for consumers did not pass. Drugmakers, who helped spur the opioid crisis, are now profiting off the epidemic by jacking up the price of overdose treatment Naloxone.

The House Health Committee cleared the drug manufacturer transparency bill on a 8-2 vote, with Republicans Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend and Rep. Rich Vial of Wilsonville joining the Democrats in the effort to force drug companies to explain the escalating rise in drug prices.

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