Chris Gray

OSPIRG Pushes Bill to Ban Non-Medical Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals

The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group thinks Oregon may be fertile ground to step in where federal legislation failed to pass and stop a public health catastrophe as the routine use of antibiotics in livestock reduces the ability for the medicine to fight bacterial infections.

Antibiotics are rapidly losing their effectiveness, and the chief culprit is not in any clinic but in the barnyard, where the medicines are mixed in the feed of healthy chickens, hogs and cattle.

Robust 2015-2017 Budget Counts on PEBB Savings, but not OEBB

Budget Chairmen Rep. Peter Buckley and Sen. Richard Devlin said they are ready to count on savings from the Public Employees Benefit Board, but not the Oregon Educators Benefit Board, which has not yet revamped its contract. Those savings are far from guaranteed.

The tentative framework for Oregon’s next budget, released Wednesday, hits a new high of $7.24 billion for primary education -- a budget made possible by projected healthcare savings for public employees, with their health plans shifting toward a coordinated care model.

Heavy Excise Tax Looms for OEBB and School Districts Without Changes

If school districts and OEBB keep the status quo, the Affordable Care Act will hit them with taxes of $11 million in 2018 and nearly $16 million in 2020. But if districts restructure the premiums paid by individuals and families, and if OEBB sees savings from a coordinated care approach in its new contract, that tax could be limited to $600,000 to $700,000 a year.

The Oregon Educators Benefit Board could be forced to pay some steep excise taxes to the federal government by the end of the decade, and while there are steps that could be done both at the state level and by individual school districts to decrease the tax owed, the health plan likely cannot avo

Civic Group Tackles Homelessness and Health in New Report

The Portland City Club is calling for better coordination of housing programs with CCOs and hospitals, and the acknowledgment that stable housing is an essential determinant of health.

The Portland City Club has issued a report on healthcare and homelessness, making several recommendations to strengthen the local safety net, particularly in light of the Medicaid expansion a year ago, which provided healthcare for most people who fall under 138 percent of the poverty level.

Steiner Hayward: Earned Sick Leave a Public Health Challenge

The physician and senator, who represents Beaverton and Northwest Portland, built the case for a statewide earned sick leave law at the Portland City Club’s December forum. Another bill, phasing out older, dirty diesel engines banned in California and Washington may face opposition from counties that are buying up the cheap engines that Oregon’s greener neighbors don’t want.

A pair of leading state Democratic lawmakers shared the stage Friday with the House Republican leader at the Portland City Club and gave a promising preview of what’s to come in the 2015 legislative session: a statewide law that would make Oregon the fourth state to mandate that employers give paid time off for sick employees.

OMIP Offers Regence BlueCross BlueShield $2.1 Million Agreement

Regence would have to deduct the cost of reconciling the books for its last-minute request to be paid for claims as old as 2010 to get money from a federal high-risk account that dissolves at the end of the year.

The Oregon Medical Insurance Pool has agreed to pay $2.1 million to Regence BlueCross BlueShield to resolve outstanding claims the insurance company says it’s owed for administering the Federal Medical Insurance Pool.

PEBB Costs Spike 7.4 Percent from 2013 for Providence Health Plan

The inflation rate matches national trends according to Mercer consultants, but that rate undermines Kitzhaber’s pledge to hold the growth in healthcare spending for public employees to 3.4 percent, and could wipe out savings the governor wants for state programs.

After an unprecedented decrease in healthcare costs for state workers in 2013, the inflation rate for the Public Employees Benefit Board was right back up to 7.4 percent per employee in 2014 for those covered by the state’s self-insured health plan administered by Providence.

Oregon Nurses Association Intends to Beef Up Hospital Staffing Laws

ONA Director Susan King tells legislators that some hospitals are not taking their nurse staffing committees seriously, and the Oregon Health Authority is not adequately auditing the hospitals for compliance. The state nurses union wants mandatory five-year audits and binding recommendations from the committees.

A year ago, cuts to the emergency department at her hospital meant that just two nurses would be on the job during the overnight hours. An expanded behavioral health unit brought greater mental health resources, but without the staffing to keep up with the workload, said registered nurse Virginia Smith

Insurance Enrollments Still Down 50,000 Heading into Open Enrollment

Cover Oregon chairwoman Liz Baxter blasted the way the Oregon Health Authority chose Kentucky for its Medicaid site, noting that the move came without transparency or any input from her board or the public, much like earlier decisions.

he Insurance Division released some new numbers Friday showing marked improvement in the number of enrollees who have transferred over to healthcare.gov, but as many as 50,000 people currently served by Cover Oregon may see a lapse in coverage if they didn't pick an insurance plan by Dec. 15.

Basic Health Could Expand Universal Care and Bolster Reach of CCOs

Wakely Consulting Group and the Urban Institute say that the state can use the subsidies from the insurance exchange to pay for all but $25 million of a plan to expand no-cost coordinated healthcare to as many as 87,000 people.

For $25 million, the state of Oregon could be poised to expand universal healthcare for residents up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, saving these residents an average of $1,600 in healthcare costs a year while providing them with more complete coverage than they’d get from private in

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