Oregon health care leaders present their legislative concepts for the 2021 session – State of Reform – State of Reform

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Sydney Kurle | Dec 21, 2020

During a remote committee meeting on Thursday the House Interim Committee on Health Care met to discuss their legislative concepts for the 2021 legislative session. Most notable among these concepts was the legislators’ commitment to addressing equity in health care, the social determinants of health, and health care affordability.

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Charlie Fisher, State Director at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, began the conversation with a presentation on a potential public option in Oregon. The presentation discussed how a public option may work and which populations would benefit in Oregon. Representative Andrea Salinas mentioned that she is working on a bill that is focused on making a public option possible in Oregon.

There were also policy proposals from the Universal Access to Primary Care Work Group. These proposals focused on three areas: access to affordable comprehensive primary care, primary care service delivery expansion and use of telehealth, and state-wide alternative payment reform methods. Representative Rachel Prusak, who is part of the work group, told the committee she is drafting a bill that focuses on reducing copays for primary care services and integrating behavioral health care into primary care services.

During the meeting, Representative Pam Marsh and Oriana Magnera, the Energy, Climate, and Transportation Program Manager for Verde, also introduced Legislative Concept (LC) 2638: the Healthy Homes Bill. This bill would create a healthy homes repair program within the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to distribute grants to local governments and other local organizations. The bill would also create an interagency task force to ensure better outcomes through coordination, data sharing, and understanding how to distribute funds across programs and agencies.

Representative Daniel Bonham introduced a tax credit for rural practitioners that builds on House Bill 2847 from the 2019 session. He says that this LC incorporates the need for means testing missing in the original bill. 

Representative Sheri Shouten brought back two bills that were at desk upon adjournment of the 2020 legislative session: House bill 4073 which limits cost-sharing for health benefit plan coverage of insulin prescribed for treatment of diabetes and House bill 4074 which authorizes the Health Licensing Office to issue licenses to practice genetic counseling to qualified applicants. She also shared that she is introducing chiropractic and naturopathic reimbursement plans, and a bill that will make the manufacturers of medical sharps pay for the cost of pickups.

Representative Maxine Dexter introduced four legislative concepts to the interim committee. They include LC 903, which is related to innovation in health care reimbursement, and LC 2653, which focuses on the optimization of care in correctional facilities and mandating public reporting of health outcomes in facilities. She also introduced LC 1657 which requires OHA to convene a group of stakeholders and experts to make recommendations regarding an electronic referral system for social services. This concept also works to create a statewide health information exchange that will help coordinate care for Oregonians. Rep. Dexter also introduced LC 1934, which establishes loan forgiveness for BIPOC primary care clinicians.

Representative Teresa Alonso Leon brought back LC 200, which focuses on the expansion of regional health equity coalitions across the state. She also reintroduced House Bill 2941 which directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to require each mental health provider preparation program in the state to prepare a plan to recruit and graduate diverse mental health providers.

Lastly, Representative Rob Nosse introduced LCs that include: allowing pharmacies to perform prep and HIV testing, a health parity for Naturopaths, nurse staffing enforcement, and staffing committees in hospitals. He also reintroduced House Joint Resolution 203, also called the Hope Amendment, which adds into the state constitution that health care is a human right of all residents of the state of Oregon.

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