Christopher David Gray

Secretary of State Prepares for Cover Oregon Financial Audit

As required both by state law and federal regulations, the Secretary of State’s office will independently look over Cover Oregon’s books to assure that the exchange followed proper accounting methods. The work is planned to be conducted by a third-party accounting firm.

An outside financial audit should keep the light on Cover Oregon as the Secretary of State’s office carries out some of the oversights that were built into the law that created the insurance exchange.

PEBB Hears How Insurers Plan to Stem the Tide of Specialty Drug Costs

Controlling the cost of expensive specialty drugs like Solvaldi to treat Hepatitis C may be the key to whether the cost controls put on Medicaid will also work with the Public Employees Benefit Board.

The Public Employees Benefit Board is tasked with holding the line on costs to a 3.4 percent growth rate, but the challenge of high-cost speciality drugs coming to the market may make that a difficult goal to meet.

Hermiston Hospital Letter Could Boost PEBB Enrollment for Moda Health

The letter from Good Shepherd Health Care System warns Umatilla County residents against signing up with Providence Health Plan, telling them they may be on the hook for higher out-of-pocket costs. For 2015, public employees who have been covered by Providence, are now able to shift to a Moda Health plan during the October open enrollment.

Just in time for the Public Employee Benefit Board’s open enrollment, Good Shepherd Health Care System, which owns the hospital in Hermiston, has sent out a letter to area residents telling them they’d better think twice before signing up with Providence Health Plan for their 2015 coverage.

Business Interests Hope for Moderation in Elections with Measure 90

The ballot measure would break up the partisan primaries and allow independents to vote in all elections. But a similar ballot measure was defeated in 2008 ,and union groups and the major parties are fighting back to keep the closed system.

In 2012, Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas, won the general election for his seat in the western half of the Willamette Valley by 7,912 votes.

DHS Given Six Months for Homecare Program to Meet Labor Rules

A workgroup last week moved toward consensus on the easier lifts -- including putting caps on overtime for some workers and the amount of time that can be claimed for travel. But the state is uniquely impacted by a Department of Labor decision that it must pay overtime by its dependence on live-in caregivers compared to other states, and no solution has yet arisen that will fairly compensate caregivers while not driving up costs to the program.

Oregon bought some time last week when the Obama administration granted Gov. Kitzhaber’s wish to delay enforcement for the first six months after the rules take effect Jan. 1.

Cover Oregon Board Takes Little Action Before Nov. 15 Open Enrollment

The Cover Oregon board voted to cancel its November meeting and appears ready to hand over the keys to the insurance exchange to legislators, who have vowed to fold the remaining state insurance exchange functions into the Insurance Division or the Oregon Health Authority.

The Cover Oregon board met Thursday at the Oregon Medical Association in Tigard in what felt like an increasingly resigned, lame-duck air, as the sand runs out of the hourglass on the state’s flopped effort to operate it

Martin Wants Aid & Assist Patients Directed Away from Mental Hospital

Currently, 25 percent of the Oregon State Hospital beds are taken up by people who have been charged with a crime but determined unfit to stand trial without mental health treatment. But many of these people are not a danger to themselves and others and might get better treatment closer to home. Meanwhile, hospital beds are unavailable for other people in more need of acute intensive psychiatric care.

The director for the state Addictions and Mental Health Division laid down a concrete proposal at Tuesday’s Oregon Health Policy Board meeting that could go a long way toward reforming the Oregon mental health system and

Oregon Cuts Uninsured Population from 14 Percent to 5 Percent

The dramatic decrease was driven by Gov. Kitzhaber’s full-hearted embrace of the Medicaid expansion, which ballooned the state-covered population by 59 percent. A survey indicates about half of the people who gained insurance through Cover Oregon had been previously uninsured.

Oregon has tremendously pared back the number of uninsured as a result of its embrace of the Affordable Care Act -- just 5 percent of the population remains uninsured compared to 14 percent last year.

HIV Drugs Skyrocket for Consumers on Some Individual Health Plans

Advocates are proposing legislation that would limit out-of-pocket costs to $150 a month after some patients see insurance companies shift the cost for pricey HIV medications by as much as $1,200 a month, after paying just $40 a month under the old high-risk pool.

Last year, if a person with HIV was insured through the high-risk Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, he or she would chip in $40 a month to help cover the cost of medications.

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