Oregon legislature 2014

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.

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

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.

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.

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