Chris Gray

State Policy Encourages Fuller Lives for Disabled, but Denies Them Equipment

Disabilities activist Joseph Lowe has appealed to the Legislature to require the Oregon Health Authority to provide the equipment people need to move around in their communities -- not just their homes -- so that others won’t have to fight for their right to participate as he did. Even as CCOs show a 9 percent profit margin, people with disabilities are being denied the wheelchairs and scooters they need to leave the house.

Joseph Lowe has been in a wheelchair since he was five years old, but he never had any persistent back pain until recently, when the state refused to pay for the durable medical equipment that his doctor prescribed to meet his needs.

Senate Health Moves to Let Pharmacists Vaccinate More Children

At the same time, the Senate Health Committee held off a push from the Oregon Dental Association to give dentists the ability to administer shots. Both bills are designed to counteract Oregon’s drop in vaccination rates by improving access.

Update March 24:

The Senate passed SB 520 unanimously, sending the measure to the House.

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Nosse Leads House to Ban Conversion Therapy for Gay Youth

California and New Jersey have banned the practice with legislation, which aims to turn LGBT people straight. The therapy has been widely disavowed by professional organizations as not only ineffective but dangerous but it remains in practice nonetheless.

Oregon positioned itself as a leader in the gay rights movement Tuesday as the Oregon House voted 41-18 to ban discredited conversion therapies for minors.

Oregon House Health Committee Grapples with Out-of-Control Drug Costs

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The committee is considering three bills aimed at tackling one of the biggest cost drivers in medicine today -- outrageously priced biological wonder drugs. One bill would prevent health insurers from gouging consumers who need these medications. A second bill would require pharmaceuticals to report their profit information to the Oregon Health Authority. The third bill would free pharmacists to dispense FDA-approved biosimilars without special state barriers.

The out-of-control and arbitrary pricing of designer prescription drugs dominated the House Health Committee on Monday, with three bills aimed at helping consumers, the state and health insurers to address the problem.

Mental Health Laws Designed to Brace Patients Leaving the Hospital

Three laws brought by a group of citizens who lost loved ones to suicide are aimed at nudging hospitals to provide better communication to family members when patients leave the hospital, and requires hospitals to link them with case management and outpatient services.

Jerry Gabay has spread the tragic story of his daughter’s suicide with legislators for several years, but now with the help of Rep.

Public Health Modernization Calls for 10-Year Roadmap for State

A pair of bills generated by a public health task force lays out the fundamental goals of a model public health system and sets the table for funding to shift from the counties to the state.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, put forth legislation designed to modernize the state’s public health system, with a pair of bills that he stated at the onset would require a number of amendments but that in the end will likely pass, requiring the Oregon Health Authority to develop a 10-year plan for the delivery of essential public health services across the state.

Nurse Midwives Want to Be Assured of Hospital Admitting Privileges

HB 2930 gives nurse midwives admitting privileges for expectant mothers, if the midwives already have privileges to work at hospitals, where nearly all births take place for this class of midwives.

Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, has another bill this year to help the state’s midwives practice their time-honored profession -- this one requiring hospitals that let nurse midwives practice to also give them the ability to admit patients and share in the rights and responsibilities of other providers.

Democrats and Family Forward Want Oregon Leave Act to Cover Healthcare

Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, large employers are required to continue group health insurance offered to employees while the employee is on unpaid leave. But that’s not the case with the Oregon Family Leave Act, making it possible for smaller employers to cut off health insurance for employees who are absent because of an illness.

A wide array of Democrats want to extend the healthcare protections that exist in the federal Family Medical Leave Act to the state’s older Oregon Family Leave Act, requiring employers to continue group insurance plans to employees who take unpaid leave under the Oregon law, just as they have alw

Low-Income Advocates Hope for Basic Health Plan Framework for 2016

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The state could expand the coordinated care transformation from the Medicaid program to legal immigrants and the poorest group of people now receiving subsidized private insurance, but advocates first want state officials to flesh out a better idea for how the program will work. The lobbyist for the insurance agents opposes the bill, noting the Trillium CCO in Lane County struggles to handle its current caseload.

More people could be coming into Oregon’s healthcare transformation, but low-income advocates are opting for a step-by-step approach to a Basic Health Plan, a possible expansion of the coordinated care system that provides care to the state’s Medicaid population.

Loan Repayment Program Benefits Urban Areas More than Rural

Because the program re-established in 2013 is so focused on serving the Medicaid program, new providers in urban areas that have clinics focused heavily on the Oregon Health Plan are much more likely to receive help than new rural providers. Less than one-third of the recipients are practicing in the state’s hinterlands.

A loan repayment program that was created as part of the federal Medicaid waiver setting up the coordinated care organizations has benefited urban Oregon much more than the rural parts of the state.

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