Chris Gray

Wyden Comes Out Swinging at New Trumpcare Plan, Calling it a Con Job

The Oregon senator and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee dismissed a question about whether Democrats will go for single-payer if Trumpcare leaves the healthcare system in shambles. He plans to fight, but Democrats are outnumbered and without any cards.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has come out swinging against the Senate version of Trumpcare, which Republicans have given the Orwellian title “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” even as it jacks up insurance costs for many people, especially seniors, and gradually defunds Medicaid, shedding millions from the program.

Lopsided House Vote Gives Psychologists the Ability to Prescribe Medicine

House Bill 3355 sets up a program that allows psychologists with increased training to prescribe psychotropic medications in a medical setting. The bill is designed to offset the declining number of psychiatrists and over-reliance on family practice doctors, who have less mental health expertise, to prescribe mental health drugs.

The Oregon House of Representatives greenlighted a path to a limited number of psychologists to prescribe medications for mental disorders, passing HB 3355 on a 43-2 vote.

Dembrow Punts Dirty Diesel Phase-Out, Backs Money to Replace Buses

Senate Bill 1008, which was to use Volkswagen settlement money to get old dirty diesel engines out of Oregon, has been heavily amended under pressure from contractors and truckers. Meanwhile, Associated Oregon Industries is also trying to kill a bill to measure air pollutants after the Bullseye Glass scandal.

Oregon senators appear poised to protect Oregon school children from the diesel fumes coming off of school buses, but they are not yet ready to protect them from the foul air coming off of other diesel vehicles.

Oregon Senate Passes Provider Tax, OHA Budget, with Ferrioli’s Support

The Senate Republican Leader scoffed at the notion that the GOP never supports tax increases or turns a cold shoulder to the state’s most vulnerable citizens, even as Congressional Republicans have vied to end the Medicaid expansion.

The $19.9 billion budget for the Oregon Health Authority and the $548 million provider tax to help fund the state’s share breezed through the Oregon Senate on Wednesday.

Industry Balks at Drug, Hospital Price Caps for PEBB, Despite Tax Savings

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems argues costs would shift to other payers if rates are capped by the Public Employees Benefit Board. But evidence shows the opposite: lower Medicare rates have forced hospitals to become more efficient, and those savings have been passed on to private insurance.

Prescription drug price control legislation being debated in the state Legislature could cut premium costs for public employees by 3 percent, and help the state maintain inflation levels below 3.4 percent.

Oregon House Passes Provider Tax, Oregon Health Authority Budget

Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, joined all 35 House Democrats to pass the $548 million tax deal to continue funding the Oregon Health Plan, after which the House also passed a $19.9 billion budget for the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon House Democrats pushed through the Oregon Health Authority budget and a new provider tax in a late Thursday afternoon session on a 36-23 tally, getting just the one Republican vote needed to move the legislation package on to the Oregon Senate.

Greenlick and Courtney Applaud OHA Budget, But Deal with GOP Elusive

House Speaker Tina Kotek has set up a game of high-stakes chicken, scheduling a vote tomorrow on the Oregon Health Authority budget and a new tax on hospitals and insurers without critical votes. The budget bolsters funding for public health and mental health.

Democratic leaders praised aspects of the Oregon Health Authority budget that was approved by the budget committee on Tuesday but it goes to a floor vote on Thursday still lacking a critical Republican vote in the Oregon House of Representatives.

House Votes to Give Homeless a Path to Free Birth Certificates

The House passed a bill that will allow the state records division to stop charging homeless people for their birth certificates. Three other bills go to Gov. Brown, protecting patients from surprise billing, putting DCO members on CCO boards and banning whip-its for minors.

The Oregon House voted for a measure that will allow Oregon-born homeless people to get free birth certificates, a critical starting point to receiving government assistance, earning a GED and getting ahead in life.

OHA Budget Moves from Initial Committee without Key Republican Support

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Rayfield said he was implementing creative means to reduce the Oregon Health Authority’s over-reliance on the substandard open-card system and to speed the transfer of Medicaid members to CCOs.

A key committee passed the Oregon Health Authority budget on Thursday afternoon, sending the $19.9 billion budget package to the full Committee on Ways & Means next week -- but doing so without critical Republican support in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Nurse Practitioner Vasectomy Bill Goes to the Governor

Oregon is poised to become the third state to expand the scope of practice of its nurse practitioners to allow them to perform the male sterilization procedure. Urologists opposed the bill, comparing nurse practitioners to gas station attendants.

The Oregon Senate cut the final strings keeping nurse practitioners from performing vasectomies on Tuesday, voting 25 to 5 to delete a statute that specifically bars them from doing this work, even if they have been specially trained.

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