Chris Gray

CCOs Try Again to Allow for State Management of Psych Meds

A lack of sideboards on the dispensation of psychiatric medications for the Medicaid population has caused these drugs to be heavily over-prescribed, particularly among children. The CCOs in charge of the state Medicaid program have called for a task force to oversee the transition to managed care for these drugs.

Dr. Mark Bradshaw, a psychiatrist for All-Care Health Plan, a coordinated care organization in Medford, testified this month in Salem that southern Oregon is a national leader in the rate at which it prescribes psychiatric medications to children.

Brown Supports Effort to Vaccinate All Oregon School Children

Despite helping vaccine skeptics introduce legislation as a state senator, Gov. Kate Brown’s spokeswoman said she never agreed with their position, and the new governor told reporters that she would work to eliminate vaccine exemptions for children who do not have a medical reason to get one.

Gov. Kate Brown pledged her support Friday for legislation that would eliminate non-medical excuses for not vaccinating school children, a measure pushed by physician Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, amid a growing measles epidemic.

Bad Sign Language Interpreters at Oregon Hospitals Creates Push for Better Law

Members of the community testified that Oregon lags behind other states in its treatment of people with hearing disabilities, and the problem is particularly problematic in Oregon hospitals, which are accused of cutting corners when it comes to providing them with a qualified interpreter. HB 2419 puts the same standards in place for sign language as foreign language translators.

The House Health Committee unanimously passed a bill this week toughening standards for sign-language interpreters after deaf advocates complained that Salem Hospital and some Portland-area hospitals were hiring unqualified interpreters to cut costs.

Anti-Vaccine Activist Claims Gov. Brown’s Support as Legislators Seek End to Non-Medical Exemptions

A bipartisan group of legislators, including three physicians, push an amended bill to eliminate non-medical exemptions for Oregon school children. But Gov. Kate Brown promoted a bill in 2001 to expand vaccine exemptions, according to an anti-vaccine activist.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, wants to eliminate all non-medical exemptions for school children to be vaccinated, and Wednesday she brought with her to the Oregon Senate Health Committee a drumbeat of support to her cause, including physician legislators from both political parties and a top state official who said his grandparents went deaf from infectious childhood diseases.

Hospital Association Buckles at Bipartisan Nurse Staffing Legislation

The Oregon Nurses Association says that state-mandated hospital nurse staffing committees are not being taken seriously. Senate Bill 469 would give committee recommendations the force of law and require the Health Authority to conduct compliance audits every five years.

The Oregon Nurses Association laid out its agenda to give teeth to hospital nurse staffing committees on Monday with Senate Bill 469, which gives the recommendations of these labor-management boards the force of law.

Planned Parenthood Wants Nurse Practitioners to Perform Vasectomies

Oregon’s shortage of medical doctors has backed up the opportunities for men to participate in family planning with voluntary sterilization. Washington state has utilized nurse practitioners for this procedure for about 20 years, but Oregon law prevents them from doing so on this side of the Columbia.

More men would be able to take one for the team and undergo a vasectomy if a bill backed by Planned Parenthood, allowing nurse practitioners to perform the procedure, becomes law.

Haley Wants Independent Budget Process for State Medical Board

Senate Bill 279 would free the Oregon Medical Board from the budget scrutiny of the legislative Committee on Ways & Means, and open an independent but still public budget process for the board, which executive director Kathleen Haley says will save the board money while still providing oversight.

The Oregon Medical Board has put forward legislation that would loosen state controls of the board and turn the medical board into a “semi-independent state agency,” less bound by the tight budget process that most state licensing agencies have to go through.

Single-Payer Activists Descend on Salem to Keep Grassroots Movement Alive

Sen. Michael Dembrow, the movement’s leader in the state Legislature, has reintroduced legislation to implement single-payer in Oregon. Broader support exists for a bill to provide state money to figure out how universal healthcare might work and be paid for in Oregon.

Labor unions and religious organizations joined Health Care for All Oregon to shut down Court Street in front of the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, for what’s become a biennial rally in support of a state single-payer health insurance program to replace the patchwork system currently in use i

X-Ray and Tanning Bed Inspections in Jeopardy Without Support for Fee Increase

The Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division said the state would not be able to meet the responsibilities of the Radiation Protection Services without a significant fee increase for X-rays and tanning beds, but the division’s proposal has run into resistance from Sen. Chip Shields who would like the state to seek more input from businesses hit with the fee hike.

A public health official warned the Senate Health Committee on Monday that the state would have to cut back on inspections of X-ray machines and would have to disband enforcement of tanning beds altogether, unless the Legislature increases fees that have not been raised in almost a decade.

Libertarian Proposal Would Allow Dying Patients to Bypass FDA to Get Drugs

House Bill 2300 would clear terminally ill patients to get drugs that have not yet completed the Food and Drug Administration approval process, a policy that has won passage in a handful of states.

The Oregon House Health Committee is seriously considering a proposal backed by a libertarian think-tank that would give terminally ill patients and their doctors permission to use drugs that have not been granted approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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