Christopher David Gray

Dembrow’s Healthcare Study Imperiled by Lack of Private Funds

With less than a year before results are needed to inform the 2015 Legislature, an academic study to analyze the best means of providing universal healthcare to Oregonians has not begun and fundraisers are far short of their goal of $200,000 to $600,000 in private donations.

The universal healthcare study that the Oregon Legislature authorized in 2013 has run into roadblocks to funding, and if money for the study is not raised soon, a comprehensive analysis may be impossible before the 2015 session.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, told The Lund Report after a town hall meeting Monday that the study would need nine months to complete. With the next session just 11 months away, researchers would need to begin in May but fundraisers are nowhere close to their goal of $200,000 to $600,000.

Big Tobacco Investment in Oregon Legislators Pays off in 2014 Session

cigarettes
A look at campaign finances shows Altria Client Services, the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris, unloaded $85,500 on the Oregon Legislature in the months before the 2013 session, including big donations to Senate President Peter Courtney and Sen. Betsy Johnson, the conservative Democrat from Scappoose. Johnson joined fellow tobacco-supported politicians such as Sen. Jackie Winters to kill a bill that would have cost Philip Morris millions.

America’s largest tobacco company made a big investment in Oregon legislators before the 2013 session and walked away with a legislative victory when a bill died on the Senate floor that would have sent unclaimed money from class-action lawsuits into an account for legal services for the poor.

Cover Oregon Gives Up on Online Portal, Sticking to Improvised System

Cover Oregon
The state insurance exchange will not have its promised one-stop shop available to consumers by the end of open enrollment this month, relying instead on the help of insurance agents and the U.S. Postal Service to sign people up for private health plans. One insurance agent said he could get people signed up in as little as 15 minutes.

Cover Oregon has given up on having a fully functional website by the end of open enrollment on March 31.

“We do not intend to launch the portal this month,” said Aaron Karjala, the Cover Oregon chief information officer. “The runway to getting the enrollments is too short. We can’t be assured it will improve our performance to get us to maximum enrollment.”

What Really Happened Between Kotek and FamilyCare about OHSU Bond Measure

Oregon Health & Science University secured $200 million from the state it said it needed to move ahead with the Phil Knight Challenge for cancer research, but House Speaker Tina Kotek got chewed up in a failed attempt to resolve a dispute over whether the tertiary hospital would agree to accept all Medicaid patients, even those from FamilyCare, with which OHSU is locked in legal battle.

Oregon Health & Science University is going home this session with its biggest coup in a decade -- the Oregon Legislature has decided to stretch its borrowing limit to provide the $200 million demand that will help t

Eli Lilly Amendment Exits Oregon Legislature as it Entered: Quietly

House Bill 4110 passes the House, requiring insurance companies to maintain coverage for people in police custody awaiting trial, putting taxpayers off the hook for those medical expenses.

The amendment that would restrict pharmacists from dispensing generic insulin slipped out of the Capitol in the same way it appeared -- quietly, in an irregular committee at an odd hour.

The Joint Capital Construction budget subcommittee voted to delete the amendment from House Bill 4110 at its 7:45 p.m. meeting on Wednesday. The full Ways & Means Committee approved HB 4110 without the amendment at its 8 p.m. meeting on Thursday.

Republicans Stage Fight Over Expanded Home Care Commission

caregiver styling hair
After a personal appeal from Sen. Bates to Sen Winters, SB 1542 skirted through the Senate Wednesday, giving senior citizens a public option to meet their long-term care needs. If the House agrees, the Home Care Commission would expand beyond its Medicaid clientele to serve people paying for in-home caregivers with their own money.

Editor's Note: Deschutes County has several private home care agencies. An earlier version of this article mistakenly said there were no home care agencies in part of Sen. Tim Knopp's district, but his district is entirely in Deschutes County. We regret the error.

Dealmaking Clem Forges Compromise on Marijuana Dispensaries

jelly jar of pot
Rep. Brian Clem’s version of Senate Bill 1531 would allow local governments to put a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, which gained state sanctioning on Monday. The bill had stalled after the House and Senate Democrats could not agree on whether cities and counties could prohibit the dispensaries in their communities.

Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, has put forward a compromise that will clear the way for local municipalities to bar medical marijuana dispensaries from their domains for a year while they prepare to develop policies to regulate incoming outlets. The dispensaries gained state sanctioning last year through House Bill 3460.

Oregon House Passes Cover Oregon Reforms on 56-2 Vote

The House passed a bill that would seek relief for small businesses who were denied subsidies because of the failed SHOP program and asks the federal government to extend open enrollment through April.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect the passage of HB 4122 and SB 1582, as well as decisions from the federal government regarding changes in health insurance policy.

Rep. Betty Komp, a Woodburn Democrat and the House Speaker Pro Tempore, added a personal touch as she explained the need to make Cover Oregon work.

Medical Equipment Exchange Bill Passes House

gavel
House Bill 4108 helps to coordinate existing programs to exchange lightly used durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs. The House also passed the bill to study the basic health plan and another bill aimed at youth suicide prevention.

In a state famous for its recycling ethic, medical equipment that could otherwise end up in landfills or lost in attics will soon be reused on a much wider level to help kids who’ve outgrown their equipment or adults who

Legislature Eyes Shifting Money from the Health Authority to DHS

Part of the $26 million earmarked for seniors has hit a snag as legislators ask for more details before they are willing to fund training for elderly caregivers. The money for the spending package came from increased revenues when the state scaled back the senior medical tax last fall.

The Legislature has found the money to bridge the $101 million gap in funding for the Department of Human Services by reallocating surplus funds from the Oregon Health Authority.

Before the session, DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel reported to a group of legislators who oversee her agency’s budget that the Department of Human Services faced a $101 million budget gap due to a number of factors such as increased labor costs, higher-than-expected case rolls and a 2 percent holdback in funding placed on the agency by the Legislature.

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