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State seeks Universal Health Plan Governance Board director

Applications are being accepted for the new position, which will play a key role in helping the board develop a potentially sweeping overhaul of the state’s health care system
The board is intended to fulfill a vision of affordable health care for all Oregonians that voters endorsed in 2022 with Measure 111. | SHUTTERSTOCK/LUND REPORT ILLUSTRATION
October 17, 2023

Gov. Tina Kotek is moving forward with hiring an executive director of a new panel tasked with developing a plan to finance and administer a universal health plan for the state. 

A state job board last week listed the opening, and the deadline for applying is Nov. 12. The job posting is state officials’ latest step toward establishing a Universal Health Plan Governance Board. 

The panel is intended to fulfill a vision of affordable health care for all Oregonians that voters endorsed in 2022 with Measure 111, making access to affordable health care a constitutional right. An earlier task force recommended the Legislature seek a universal health insurance system. 

The person hired as executive director for the new board will support and oversee the board, helping it plan and manage its work. They will also coordinate with the Oregon Health Authority on policy development and how existing health programs will be affected by the new universal health plan. The executive director will be in charge of two staff members. The position pays between $6,480 and $10,023 a month. 

Oregon lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year to create the new nine-member board. The bill calls for the governor to appoint the board’s members to four-year terms to represent different health care professionals and perspectives who all must support access to medical care “as a fundamental element of a just society.” The executive director will take direction from the governor until the full board is in place. So far, Kotek has not announced her picks for the board, which the state Senate must confirm. 

Kotek signed the bill in August but issued a signing statement raising concerns that the new plan to be developed by the board could be duplicative and wasteful. 

“I have been clear that as we emerge from the international pandemic that thrust our communities, businesses, schools, and public institutions into crisis, we must approach new programs with great scrutiny and the highest degree of accountability,” Kotek wrote in the statement. 

She called on legislative leaders and sponsors of the bill to “provide clearer direction” to the board when the Legislature convenes in February.

Warren George, a member of the earlier task force that recommended the Legislature pursue universal health care, suggested Kotek’s statement was overly negative in a letter to the editor in The Lund Report. He defended the new board’s mission as “precise and specific.”

You can reach Jake Thomas at [email protected] or via X @jakethomas2009.