Christopher David Gray

Insurance Division May Extend Old Health Plans to 2017; Eli Lilly Amendment Still Alive

state capitol building
An amendment to the bill funding the extension of the high-risk pool directs the Insurance Division to align its policies on extending substandard health insurance plans with the federal government. Meanwhile, the toxics disclosure bill died, and, despite assurances from Sen. Alan Bates that it would be stripped, an amendment that restricts the dispensation of generic insulin was moved intact to another committee.

The Human Services Budget Committee moved to extend old health insurance plans till 2017 on Thursday; killed the bill asking companies to disclose their use of toxic chemicals in toys; and kept alive an amendment designed to protect Eli Lilly from competition, despite misgivings from the legislators on the committee, including Sen. Alan Bates.

In an act of legislative sausage-making, House Bill 4110 passed from the Human Services Budget Committee to a second subcommittee tasked with approving construction projects such as the $200 million financing request from Oregon Health & Science University. The controversial amendment to HB 4110, which would limit the ability for diabetics to receive generic insulin, remained in the bill.

Budget Committee Greenlights Public Guardian, Home Care Expansion

senior shopping with companion
The Legislature finds $950,000 for a public guardian to protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens while an additional $1.3 million will start up a self-sustaining expansion of the state home care worker registry, allowing more middle-class seniors to stay in their homes with the help of a caregiver.

Two important bills that are meant to improve the health of senior citizens won financial backing from a legislative budget committee Wednesday, one creating a public guardian program for vulnerable people and the other allowing people without Medicaid to hire a caregiver from the state home care registry.

Oregon Senate Frees Small Businesses to Offer Self-Insured Health Plans

couple going over paperwork
HB 4050 allows small businesses to buy stop-loss health insurance coverage and gives them the option of self-insurance as opposed to the state fully-insured small group market.

The Senate voted Tuesday to make it easier for small businesses to provide self-insured health coverage for their employees, eliminating a barrier that kept those employers from buying stop-loss coverage.

Conger Gets Two Amendments Approved Casting Daylight on Cover Oregon

Cover Oregon logo
Rep. Mitch Greenlick agrees to adopt two amendments from Rep. Jason Conger that will make clear that the public can get copies of the First Data audit and will require the Cover Oregon director to provide demographic data to the Legislature. The amendments have been attached to a bill from Regence BlueCross BlueShield that will help the insurer save costs on supplies to diabetic women.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, agreed with two amendments from Republican Rep. Jason Conger of Bend on Monday that aim to provide the public with more daylight into the operations of Cover Oregon.

Silver Alert Bill Passes Legislature, Protecting Missing Seniors

senior woman walking
The Silver Alert bill requires police agencies to develop policies to find and assist seniors with dementia who get lost. The bill also orders the Oregon Health Authority to more proactively ward against Medicaid fraud. Several other bills passed the House Friday, including a bill to codify equipment testing protocol for dentists and one that will study giving parents the option of subsidized private insurance instead of the Oregon Health Plan for their children.

The Legislature has passed the Silver Alert Bill, tasking municipal police and county sheriff’s offices with developing a policy to find and assist senior citizens who go missing.

Hoyle Pushes Amendment for Eli Lilly, Limiting Generic Insulin for Diabetics

The amendment to House Bill 4110 would require pharmacists to get special permission from doctors to prescribe generic insulin, which could hit the market as early as next year. The Eli Lilly amendment threatens the underlying bill, which requires insurance companies to pay for medical costs when an insured person is in police custody but not convicted of a crime.

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, has slipped an amendment for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly into an unrelated healthcare bill that will protect its patented insulin drug against generic competition while Eli L

Colonoscopy Bill Prohibits Extra Charges for Removing Polyps

piggy bank
Kaiser Permanente, Health Net, Cigna and Regence BlueCross BlueShield had been among the insurers to charge fees, though Regence said the charges had been a mistake and now supports the bill.

A divided Senate Thursday found an election-year issue it can get behind -- free colonoscopies, even if a physician has to remove polyps during the screening.

Prescription Drug Synchronization Bill on Breezy Path through Legislature

prescription drugs
Sen. Alan Bates has pushed a bill that will help eliminate unnecessary trips to the drug store by allowing pharmacists to develop prescription drug plans with patients when chronic medications are refilled on the same date each month. The coordination of drug refills should save money and lives by making it easier for patients to adhere to their medication regimens.

The House Health Committee passed a bill Wednesday that will help consumers with multiple medications cut down on their trips to the drug store and allow them to get all of their long-term medications filled at the same

Senate Passes Bill Ensuring Some Local Control of Pot Dispensaries

pot dispensary sign
Medical marijuana opponents tried to let local jurisdictions get around the medical marijuana dispensary law passed last year, but Sen. Floyd Prozanski scuttled attempts to allow for local bans of medicinal marijuana sales.

The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday on a bill that makes clear that local jurisdictions can regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, but stopped short of allowing  local governments to bar them outright, as some anti-ma

Cigarette Tax Raises Money to Help Bring Mentally Ill Home to Community

cigarette
As much as $20 million in private funding could be leveraged with a $5 million state investment in new housing for people with mental illness, opening up spots for people stuck in more institutional settings like the Oregon State Hospital. The money would also relieve pressure on the state rental market, since state policy will limit the units for people with disabilities to 20 percent of the apartment complexes, allowing them to blend in with the general population.

With every pack they buy, Oregon smokers may be inadvertently working to reduce the state’s housing shortage while helping the state move people with mental illnesses back into their home communities.

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