Chris Gray

Devlin: Oregon Would Forfeit Federal Money if Tax Referendum Held

The Republicans fighting the tax appear to have bungled their way toward the ballot, as the top legislative attorney believes that the 0.7% tax on hospitals will be collected in 2018 and 2019 regardless of an election. A successful referendum would repeal the hospital tax just for 87 days in 2017 as well as the 1.5% insurance tax.

Oregon would forfeit federal dollars if an election is held over a suite of healthcare taxes that fund the state Medicaid system even if the taxes are upheld, according to Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, chairman of the Committee on Ways & Means.

Allen Starts at OHA, Bringing Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali Robison to Help

The Oregon Health Authority begins the Labor Day weekend with a changing of the guard as Lynne Saxton, Mark Fairbanks, Dr. Varsha Chauhan and BethAnne Darby leave while a new team from the Department of Consumer & Business Services takes over, along with Gov. Brown’s top health advisor, Jeremy Vandehey.

Outgoing Department of Consumer & Business Services Director Pat Allen will be cleaning house at the Oregon Health Authority and bringing some of his top lieutenants with him as he takes over as interim director on Friday.

Oregon Expects to Net $30 Million a Year in Federal Money for Reinsurance

A waiver would pass federal savings back to the state to help fund the reinsurance program and save consumers $25 a month in the individual market. But the program is in doubt because of a Republican backlash to a $5 a month tax on group health insurance premiums.

The Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services anticipates the state will receive as much as $30 million a year from the federal government to help fund its new reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market, if the Trump administration approves its waiver.

Rep. Parrish Busies Her Summer Break Gathering Petitions Against Taxes

As the state government implements HB 2391 and designs programs to stabilize health insurance rates, the Republican firebrand from the south Portland suburbs is hoping to get 59,000 signatures to allow voters a chance to sign off on the funding package for Medicaid and market stabilization.

Some legislators might be taking an extended holiday this summer after finishing work in the 2017 marathon session on July 7, but not Republican Rep. Julie Parrish of West Linn and Tualatin.

Providence Fined $100,000 for 2012 Violations Relating to Autism Treatment

The civil penalty may be the final chapter in the Catholic health insurer’s losing war against providing applied behavior analysis treatment for children with autism.

State insurance regulators have fined Providence Health Plan $100,000 for blocking access to care for autistic children without providing them with any chance for an external review over denied claims for applied behavior analysis therapy.

Oregon Schools Leaving Millions in Federal Medicaid Dollars on the Table

A pilot project will help nine schools apply for federal funding to cover the healthcare costs of children in special education. Other states have used this funding stream to put a nurse in every school, and even small states like Montana bring in many times more money than Oregon.

A bill passed at the end of the legislative session last month could help the Oregon Department of Education show the way to getting more nurses placed in schools by providing a funding stream to offset the cost of providing care for special-needs children.

Healthcare Leaders Praise Choice of Allen to Command Troubled OHA

Pat Allen, the leader of the Department of Consumer & Business Services, was called Wednesday to put out fires at the Oregon Health Authority after Lynne Saxton resigned amid a communications scandal.

Gov. Kate Brown turned to a familiar face on Wednesday to become interim director of the Oregon Health Authority, Pat Allen, the well-respected director of the Department of Consumer & Business Services, which regulates health insurance among other responsibilities.

New PEBB Wellness Manager Expected to Analyze Myriad of Programs

Gov. Kate Brown recently ordered the Public Employees Benefit Board to hire a wellness manager. At the insistence of Sen. Betsy Johnson, the board opted to delay the expansion of one wellness program until the new hire has a chance to comprehensively determine which programs best improve health.

Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, spurred the Public Employees Benefit Board to think more seriously about cost containment at a meeting Tuesday, and the board agreed to slow down the approval of wellness programs until new staff could take a more comprehensive look.

State Regulators Persuade Moda to Sell Exchange Plans in Lane County

The Eugene area and Tillamook County will now have a choice between Providence and Moda on healthcare.gov, after Moda Health initially declined to sell plans on the exchange. Most consumers will have three or more options in Oregon in 2018, but not most counties, as rural areas will typically have just two choices. Douglas and Lincoln counties will have only Providence.

Eugene consumers will have more than one option on the healthcare.gov online marketplace next year after all, after state regulators were successful in persuading Moda Health to sell plans in Lane County next year, as well as Tillamook County on the Coast.

Schrader, House Moderates Craft Bipartisan Obamacare Fixes

A draft of the deal released this week would scrap the medical device tax and the employer mandate for businesses with fewer than 500 workers. At the same time, it supports re-establishing up to $15 billion a year for reinsurance to help carriers with the costliest patients, and would guarantee cost-sharing assistance for working-class adults.

U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., has been at the center of discussions in Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this fall that aims to prevent the collapse of the individual healthcare market, as well as the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

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