Chris Gray

OMIP Sets Reinsurance Tax for 2014 at About $46 Per Person

The high-risk pool is charged with operating a state reinsurance program that is intended to spread the risk and soften the blow to insurance companies that have consumers with high medical claims. The $46 per person assessment annually to health insurance policies will be used to reimburse insurers for former OMIP consumers who run up bills of more than $30,000.

The Oregon Medical Insurance Program board voted unanimously Monday to set the assessment on health insurance plans to fund its reinsurance program at $3.859 per person  per month, which will bring in just under $72 million for 2014.

Multnomah County Commission Shows Need for Tighter Nicotine Laws

Oregon is one of just nine states that doesn’t bar minors from buying electronic cigarettes, which along with traditional tobacco products are geared toward children with high concentrations of the same tasty chemicals found in Kool-Aid and candy. The tobacco industry has also exploited a loophole in the law that bans flavored cigarettes by offering candy-flavored cigarillos.

A meeting of the Multnomah County Commissioners on a wintry Thursday morning will likely set the groundwork for a push in Salem next year to regulate the highly unregulated electronic cigarette market and give authorities more control over tobacco sales.

Telehealth Visits in Patient Homes in Good Shape for 2015 Session

A bill headed for the Senate Health Committee would require insurance companies to pay for services from physicians that are conducted via a two-way Internet video conference to the patient’s home computer. Hospitals and most insurance companies appear on board after killing a similar 2014 bill. that was pushed by ZoomCare.

Healthcare consumers could soon be able to meet with their doctor or nurse practitioner via two-way Internet video conference from the comfort of their homes, if a legislative recommendation becomes law next year.


Democratic Veterans Expect Bipartisan Support for Top Health Policy Goals

Despite stronger majorities in both chambers for 2015, the top Democratic legislators in healthcare policy all say that they expect legislation on the biggest issues, such as Cover Oregon, marijuana and public health, to attract broad support. But other legislation which couldn’t overcome partisan hurdles in previous sessions, such as the Toxics Disclosure Act, should get the green light now.

The 2014 election has left Oregon Democrats with a much easier time pushing progressive legislation but at least for now healthcare policy leaders in the Legislature say they plan to aim for an agenda that will draw bipartisan support, much like the 2013 session.


Oregon Teachers Flock to Catastrophic Plans to Keep Down Costs

Faced with paying an increased share of their healthcare costs in many Oregon school districts, OEBB members for the first time chose a high-deductible plan over more traditional offerings that have higher up-front costs. In other news, OEBB will cover transgender healthcare effective Jan. 1.

For the first time, the most popular plan for covering people through the Oregon Educators Benefit Board will be a high-deductible health insurance plan.

Beyer Tells Springfield Hospital to Meet Employee Demands after Strike

The senator believes that meeting SEIU’s salary demands will only cost the hospital about $200,000 out of its $11.7 million annual profit, and could avoid a situation where employees earn less with a proposed raise that does not offset a rise in health insurance premiums.

A pair of Springfield legislators have attempted to intervene in the labor dispute at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital, which resulted in more than 300 employees walking out in a three-day strike last week.

DHS Sketches Plan to Cut Cost of New Home Care Labor Rules

New labor rules that require the state to pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked, pay for travel time, and pay overtime for all hours over 40, would still cost the state’s general fund about $19 million a year, down from the $38 million first feared.
The Oregon Department of Human Services has sketched out some policy proposals that would cut in half the state’s costs for adhering to the Obama administration’s new interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

SEIU Strikes For-Profit Springfield Hospital After 10 Months Without Contract

Community Health Systems, the Tennessee company that owns McKenzie-Willamette Hospital, wants to increase healthcare premiums for employees as much as 9 percent while giving them a slight raise. The hospital posted $11.7 million in profits on patient care in 2012.

About 340 employees of McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Springfield have walked off the job in a three-day strike in an attempt to avert cuts in benefits from their employer, the for-profit hospital giant Community Health Systems.

Hermiston Hospital Officials Say Providence Withheld Payment for Hospitalizations

Officials at the Good Shepherd hospital told The Lund Report that unlike other insurers, Providence Health Plan doesn’t trust the hospitals’ judgment on hospital admissions and may later stiff them for payment. The dispute between the two companies led the hospital to send out a letter advising Hermiston residents to find another health insurance company.

Providence Health Plan has refused to pay claims for hospital patients in Hermiston if it later deems the hospitalizations unnecessary, leaving Good Shepherd Medical Center to eat the cost for treating those patients, hospital officials have told The Lund Report.

Kitzhaber Lays Out Monitoring and Voluntary Quarantines to Prevent Ebola Outbreak

Six Oregon health systems have agreed to be ready to treat Ebola patients if someone in Oregon comes down with the virus. People traveling from the affected countries in West Africa will be monitored and asked to stay away from the public.

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Monday that Oregon would contain any potential Ebola virus threat by hewing closely to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and not take more drastic steps as ordered on the East Coast to detain anyone returning to the United States who had come in contact with the disease in West Africa.


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