Legislative Update

Legislative Update (as of 10/12/2017 )

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--from Charlie Swanson, HCAO Legislative Committee Chair
It is always appropriate to ask your legislators what they are doing to move towards better health care for more people at lower cost. In particular, what are they doing to meet the vitally important legislative intent codified in Oregon Revised Statute 414.018? “It is the intention of the Legislative Assembly to achieve the goals of universal access to an adequate level of high quality health care at an affordable cost."

Note how close this legislative intent is to HCAO’s mission. If there are any bills about which you are aware that help achieve the legislative intent, our mission, or just provide better health care to more people at lower costs, let your legislators know.

Bills and Measures of interest to HCAO-Action in the 2018 session:
CCO reform: we expect a CCO reform bill to be introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick. The reforms are intended to make CCOs more transparent and accountable. The bill will include the recommendations made by the Oregon Health Policy Board (OHPB) to this effect following the fall 2016 listening sessions around the state (see OHPB’s recommendations). The bill to be introduced can be found here. Note that it contains provisions requiring CCOs to become nonprofit community organizations by the end of the next contracting period and to follow open meeting laws now, and it puts some controls on CCO reserves.

Message: CCOs currently serve 25% of Oregonians and will need to be effective community organizations for there to be any reason to continue in a universal system. We cannot allow CCOs to misuse public money as profligately as some already have.

Nonprofit Hospital Requirements: We expect a community benefits requirement bill to be introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick. The bill will establish some community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals.

Message: Oregon has no enforceable community benefit requirements for hospitals. If taking the profit motive out of health care delivery is to be useful, there is a general need for the description “nonprofit” to have real meaning when applied to health care providers.

Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency: We expect a prescription drug pricing transparency bill to be introduced by Rep. Rob Nosse. The bill will either be very much like sections 6 and 7 of the A-engrossed version of HB 2387 in the 2017 session, or like California’s SB 17, signed into law on October 10, 2017. More information about California’s bill can be found here.

Message: Prescription drug pricing transparency is useful in figuring out what a state can do to help mitigate high costs of prescription drugs. Opaque pricing is antithetical to well-functioning markets and to transparent and accountable government programs.

Health Care industry assessment increase: It appears that Referendum 301 may become Measure 101 on the ballot in a January 23 special election. Referendum 301/Measure 101 is an attempt to reverse a carefully crafted bipartisan assessment increase on the health care industry. The revenue raised from the health care industry provide funds is to preserve the Medicaid expansion in Oregon, to fund Cover All Kids, to fund the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and to provide some reinsurance intended to help stabilize insurance rates in the Oregon individual health insurance market.

Message: HCAO-Action has endorsed a “yes” vote. This is the most important happening in the next few months that can affect equitable access to health care in Oregon. A “yes” vote will preserve the funding for the Medicaid expansion, Cover All Kids, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and insurance premium rate stabilization. A “no” vote will jeopardize all of these programs. A further result of a “no” vote is to likely cause a long, drawn out, and extremely contentious re-budgeting process, where legislators will be forced to reduce funding in other areas to preserve at least some of the generous federal matching funds (as much as $5 billion) that will otherwise be unavailable for health care in Oregon. If the measure fails, it is unlikely that the 2018 session will have time for any other measures that may be slightly controversial. This includes all three of the bills mentioned above.

The proposed ballot title, containing further explanations, can be viewed on pages 3 and 4 of the document HERE. An article from the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) outlines why a “yes” vote makes sense. To prepare for countering negative arguments, read this article by the Cascade Policy Institute (which “promotes property rights, incentives, markets and decentralized decision making”) argues, in essence, for a “no” vote.