Chris Gray

Martin Wants Change in Law to Help Out Mental Health Advisory Group

The director of the state’s addictions and mental health division, Pam Martin, would like to be able to compensate people on her division’s consumer advisory council for the costs of being on the council, like travel and motel stays. If they had these costs paid, the state might be able to attract more members as well as a more diverse group.

People who wish to participate in a state advisory council focused on behavioral health may soon not have to pick up the tab for travel to all those meetings in Salem under legislation proposed by Pam Martin, the director of the Oregon Health Authority’s Addictions and Mental Health Division.

Senate to Vote to Dissolve Cover Oregon as Early as Next Week

State plans to continue use of the federal website, but other functions will still be housed in the Department of Consumer & Business Services. The drafters of Senate Bill 1 have proposed language to make it clear that despite closing the independent agency, Oregon still maintains enough control over its insurance exchange to withstand a potentially fatal blow from the Supreme Court to Obamacare in most of the country.

A bill to close down Cover Oregon and roll the remaining responsibilities for the state health insurance exchange into the Department of Consumer & Business Services should head to the Senate floor as early as next week.

Dental Hygienists Want Pair of Bills to Clarify Their Enhanced Practices

Two bills introduced by Sen. Fred Girod, a dentist, would give clearer authority for dental hygienists to practice in Oregon as they have already been doing. One restores their right to prescribe fluoride and antimicrobials; the other refines the state law governing their practices, but faces opposition from Capitol Dental.

The Oregon Dental Hygienists Association is pushing two bills intended to clean up bureaucratic snafus and ensure that the liberal scope-of-practice given to hygienists under Oregon law in 2011 can work effectively in dental practices.

Greenlick Wants Free Comprehensive Colon Screenings; Insurers Want Delay

A relatively new colon cancer screening is cheap, effective and can be done at home, but sometimes insurance companies charge consumers for a follow-up colonoscopy if they’ve already paid for a fecal immunochemical test. HB 2560 would give consumers the guarantee that both tests would be free and encourage them to get tested.

An easy, relatively new test has the potential to greatly increase the number of people who receive screenings for colon cancer, thereby catching the presence of the disease early, when it still stands a high chance of eradication.

Bipartisan Support Emerges for Paid Time off In Domestic Violence Situations

SB 492 lets workers use sick days for court appearance and other personal business for victims of domestic violence and sex crimes. A separate effort, requiring paid time off, is more partisan but also with a good chance of passage.

Women caught up in domestic violence situations would not have to pretend to be sick to use the sick days they’ve earned to take time off work, under a bipartisan proposal introduced to the Oregon Senate.

Steiner Hayward Wants Stronger Vaccine Law For Seventh Graders

A 2013 law designed to require informed consent for any parents opting out of vaccinations for their children has not worked as intended -- it’s been interpreted as applying to only new students -- compelling lawmakers to ask for a new law that will net all children entering public schools in the 7th grade.

The 2015 session will feature a new bill designed to tighten the vaccination exemptions for school children and protect the public against infectious disease after a 2013 law failed to do what lawmakers had intended.

Hospitals Support Sharing Transformation Fund Dollars with CCOs

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Gov. Kitzhaber’s advisors and the Oregon Health Leadership Council collaborated on a proposal to give some money to CCOs, from a fund currently earmarked to help hospitals reform their delivery systems. The money would likely take years to reach the CCOs -- hospitals who paid into the transformation assessment that was authorized in 2013 won’t get rewarded until March.

The Oregon Health Leadership Council is floating a proposal that would expand the scope of the hospital transformation tax fund to financially reward coordinated care organizations that have shown success at reforming the delivery system while producing showing good health outcomes. .

PEBB May Be Able to Avoid Excise Tax Without Increasing Costs to Families

Mercer consultant Emery Chen proposed taking $17 million of the $101 million in tax savings PEBB would make by restructuring its health benefit plans, and using it to offset the increased cost to employees with families for six years.

Oregon’s Public Employee Benefits Board’s consultants have devised a plan which may delay making state workers with families pay for an increase to their healthcare premiums, which could come from

Smith Warner Promotes Public Funding for Healthcare Study

A private study of the best way to provide universal healthcare in Oregon has foundered for lack of funds. The study was sanctioned in 2013 to rely on private funding; with little materializing, legislators such as Sen. Michael Dembrow and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner are asking for an extended deadline and public funding.

Two years ago, the Legislature authorized an examination of universal healthcare, but asked the private sector to pick up the tab. That effort foundered when donors -- and dollars -- failed to materialize.

PEBB May Be Able to Avoid Excise Tax Without Increasing Costs to Families

Mercer consultant Emery Chen proposed taking $17 million of the $101 million in tax savings PEBB would make by restructuring its health benefit plans, and using it to offset the increased cost to employees with families for six years.

Oregon’s Public Employee Benefits Board’s consultants have devised a plan which may delay making state workers with families pay for an increase to their healthcare premiums, which could come from

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