Kitzhaber Signs Homecare Worker Law, Opening Registry to Private Payment

SB 1542 was pushed by SEIU and senior advocates, giving middle-class seniors a new option, in addition to private home care agencies, to help them stay in their homes while meeting the needs of daily living. The state homecare workers, previously available only for Medicaid clients, will soon be open for all.

Gov. John Kitzhaber officially signed Senate Bill 1542 into law Thursday, creating a new option for middle-class seniors striving to stay in their homes -- hiring a homecare worker off the state’s registry.

Policy Board Moves Ahead at Setting Sustainable Growth Rate

A task force will take a measure of overall healthcare spending and the costs for each provider. The state will then use that information to set a benchmark for medical inflation, both in the public and private sectors.

The Oregon Health Policy Board made a baby-step Tuesday in its efforts to tackle rising healthcare costs -- approving a committee to set the groundwork for a legally allowable, sustainable rate of medical inflation for healthcare providers.

When the board finishes it work, it could recommend penalties and rewards to keep providers under a reasonable inflation rate, likely one similar to the rate imposed on the the coordinated care organizations -- 3.4 percent.

Private Homecare Agencies Worry About Competition from State

worker combing senior woman's hair
Some businesses that offer in-home care services have grave concerns about their ability to compete with the state’s home care workers, which nearly derailed SB 1542. But the leader of the Oregon Health Care Association believes that the state won’t be able to compete with his agencies’ cheaper, more comprehensive services.

A new law that will expand the state home care Medicaid registry onto the open market has some private agencies who offer this kind of care worried that the state is butting in on their business.

Other observers maintain that the public option will have little or no effect on their ability to provide quality care to seniors.

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.

The Real Reason SEIU Pulled its Ballot Measures Targeting Hospitals

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Of the ballot measures filed by the union, one would have limited compensation of nonprofit hospital executives, while a second would have required hospitals to set uniform and reasonable rates for their services.

Speculation is mounting over what triggered SEIU, one of the state’s most powerful labor unions, to pull its ballot measures forcing hospitals to end overpricing and bring healthcare costs under control.

SEIU Ballot Measures Bypass Legislature Sluggish on Hospital Reform

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Political organizers for the Service Employees International Union are taking five sweeping measures directly to the voters after years of the Legislature thwarting their efforts in favor of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. Meanwhile, the Office of the Inspector General is wading into hospital executive compensation.

The Legislature may have convened for its 2014 session, but some of the biggest healthcare policy decisions of the year will not be made by the people’s representatives, but directly by the people, as the Service Employees International Union is vying for five ballot measures in the Nov.

Dembrow Wants to Stop Employers from Cutting Hours Due to Obamacare

The Lund Report
Senate Bill 1543 died in committee, but it would have prevented employers from reducing employee hours below 30 to avoid giving them health coverage, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, a bill expanding Oregon’s successful Home Care Commission from Medicaid to the general population and the bill requiring disclosure of toxic chemicals in children’s products passed the Senate Health Committee.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, pushed a bill that would fix a serious negative and unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act -- large corporations scaling back employee hours to avoid providing them with health insurance.


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