News From Around the Northwest

A plan to increase the number of organ donors in Oregon is being delayed by Transportation Department concerns.

Three out of four Oregonians tick the box to become an organ donor when they get a driving license.

Now the organization responsible for matching organ donors with recipients wants to add a new box - a $3 donation for outreach to attract more minority and rural donors.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Exercise may play a critical role in maintaining good health, but fewer than half of the physicians trained in the United States in 2013 received formal education or training on the subject, according to new research from Oregon State University.

Today was a historic day for Oregon State Hospital, with the last 57 patients of its Portland campus transferring to the facility in Salem. The patients are moving into units recently vacated when the new Oregon State Hospital campus in Junction City opened March 11.

Oregon State Hospital provides intensive psychiatric treatment for adults with severe mental illness. Patients from throughout the state receive 24-hour on-site services that help them stabilize and successfully transition back to their lives in the community.

PORTLAND, OR -- The Oregon Medical Association (OMA) has officially partnered with the Oregon Rx Card to provide a FREE prescription assistance program for members, their patients, employees and others. The Oregon Rx Card was launched in 2009 to make prescription medications more affordable for the uninsured and underinsured. The card may be used for savings of up to 75% on prescription medications at more than 56,000 pharmacies nationwide.

Environmental lobbyists are on a roll this year in Oregon.

They notched a big win early in the session when lawmakers passed legislation to make the state’s low-carbon fuel standard permanent. Now, lobbyists for a coalition of groups have turned their focus to bills that would require utilities to stop using power from coal plants by 2025.

That work isn’t cheap.

In 2014, a broad spectrum of environmental groups spent nearly $470,000 on lobbying in Salem, according to EO Media Group/Pamplin Media Group Capital Bureau’s analysis of state lobbying records.

The two bills designed to give most Oregonians paid sick leave have stalled in the Oregon Legislature, as one has not moved out of its committee and the other has not been scheduled for its next hearing.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have bills aimed at giving nearly all Oregon workers some paid time off if they're sick. Senate Bill 454 got out of its committee last week and was sent to the joint budget committee, while House Bill 2005 has not yet been voted out of the House Committee on Business and Labor.

Tigard and Milwaukie are the first cities in the Portland area to pass resolutions asking Metro to make it safer for kids to walk to school.

LeeAnne Fergason with For Every Kid estimates that walking to school could meet 60 percent of the average child's daily physical activity need. "One in four kids in Oregon is considered unhealthy and obese and at risk for related diseases," she said.

Sarah Truman pays more than $3,000 per month out of pocket for the medications that alleviate her psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis symptoms enough to allow her to work and live a normal life.

Jim Huls is a multiple myeloma patient who has maxed out two credit cards and lost his home to the bank while trying to balance his medical and pharmaceutical bills.

Both are Oregonians who are appealing to state lawmakers to do something about the rising costs of prescription drugs.

Few people come into contact with farm chemicals the way agricultural workers do. That's why a new health report on a commonly used herbicide is raising special concerns about farmworkers and cancer.

For years, researchers have seen glyphosate as one of the least harmful herbicides. It doesn’t cause as many acute poisonings. But now the World Health Organization has said there’s “limited evidence” long-term exposure can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people.

Nearly 70 Oregon advocates marched to beating drums to the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday to rally for comprehensive coverage of women's reproductive health services. They hope that Senate Bill 894, which proponents say fill gaps in federal law and protect women against threats to weaken reproductive rights, will soon be scheduled for a hearing.

Nearly every Oregon employee could have at least 40 hours of paid sick leave in the near future if the Oregon Legislature succeeds in passing one of two bills currently under discussion in the Capitol.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are considering bills that would mandate paid sick time for all employees who work in Oregon (with a few exceptions).

The Senate Committee on Workforce passed Senate Bill 454 on to the joint budget committee on Thursday afternoon; the House bill will be up for discussion again on Monday.

Oregon will join Washington and Alaska in a multi-state investigation of a cyber attack of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon and its parent company Premera Blue Cross, the Oregon Insurance Division has announced.

LifeWise has said 250,000 Oregonians’ personal information was exposed in the attack.

The investigation will cover cyber security, LifeWise’s response and financial impacts on consumers, providers and LifeWise.

The states will likely hire cyber security firms to investigate the nature of the data breach.

Some states now cover the cost of medical treatment for people who are transgender. Oregon is one of them. But, since January, Oregon is going one step further.

It now pays for drugs that suppress puberty in children who think they might want to change their gender - if they're on the Oregon Health Plan.

An upcoming story will look into the medical pros and cons of the therapy. But first, here's a look at how a 13-year-old and her family came to the tough decision to suppress puberty.

Premiums for the lowest-cost ‘silver plans’ offered through insurance marketplaces increased 2.9 percent nationally, on average, from 2014 to 2015, according to a new issue brief. The brief, prepared by researchers at the Urban Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, finds that increases were generally modest, and in some cases, premiums decreased in cost. The brief provides information on the change in price for the lowest-priced silver plans in 2014 and 2015 for every state and rating region in the U.S., as well as in select major cities and rural areas.

Grizzly bears pile on the fat every autumn. But in their obese state through hibernation, they don’t appear to suffer health consequences like overweight humans do. Scientists in eastern Washington are trying to figure out why. A new study involving those bears may yield insights into possible therapies for human obesity and diabetes.Michael Werner: Plump. Pudgy. Portly. Call them what you will, but for grizzlies, being fat is being happy.Heiko Jansen, Associate Professor, Washington State University: They’re sort of OCD eaters in the fall.

Critics of medical marijuana often note that most of the people using the system aren’t actually sick — they’re just using it as a way to get cheap, untaxed pot.

And the critics aren’t entirely wrong. Even those in the medical marijuana community admit that there are likely more people gaming the system than there are people using it as intended.

But that’s not the entire story.

Emily York, climate and health program coordinator for the Oregon Health Authority, told participants at the Oregon Public Health Institute’s Community Conversation on Climate Change & Health that Oregon was one of only four states to receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control for climate change pilot programs.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, a family physician who led the charge for strengthening Oregon's school immunization law, will no longer pursue the legislation, a staffer said Wednesday.

Senate Bill 442, which has had one public hearing and attracted national attention, would have eliminated religious and philosophical exemptions from school shots. Only medical exemptions would have been allowed.

Oregon's nonmedical exemption rate for kindergartners is the nation's highest, at 7 percent. It's a number that has been steadily rising since 2000.

SEASIDE — The annual Adolescent Sexuality Conference, previously held at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center, has been canceled for 2015.

The Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force, the event’s fiscal sponsor, emailed conference participants over the weekend announcing the news.

An Oregon bill that would regulate toxic chemicals in children's products could pose a special challenge for the paper industry.

The bill would apply to paper in products such as construction paper, the pads on children's bandages, or tissues in a box printed with cartoon characters, Paul Cosgrove, a lobbyist for the American Forest & Paper Association, told the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources this week.

As logging has declined, most manufacturers have switched to using fiber from recycled paper products, Cosgrove told the committee.

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