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2012 Short Legislative Session Comes to a Close

The February Legislative session adjourned March 5, 2012 after a month long flurry of budget and policy debates. The legislature’s main focus was rebalancing the approved state budget to reflect an addition $340 million shortfall in revenue estimates. They took another step forward on health care reform and establishing a health insurance exchange, but the 30-30 partisan split in the Oregon House continued to make moving proactive, good policy difficult. However, bad policy targeting collective bargaining rights and PERS changes faced similar odds, allowing ONA to protect our member’s rights in the workplace.

ONA successfully pushed to pass the Oregon Health Policy Board’s recommendations on reforming our broken health care system. The legislation took the next step in Oregon’s long evolution to provide better care to our patients; it creates the framework for establishing local Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) to better manage the state’s Medicaid population. This is good policy on paper, but there are many unknowns as these structures are implemented around the state. ONA will continue to be at the table making sure our member’s interests are represented in this new system.

We were unsuccessful at passing better policy to protect our patients and ourselves from punitive seasonal influenza policies some of our members have experienced around the state. This thoughtful and balanced approach was opposed by the hospital association who continues to believe that a mandated approach as a condition of employment is the only option. Additionally, we were unsuccessful at pushing reimbursement changes for our Nurse Practitioners that have faced unfair cuts to their payments based on their credentials. Opposition by physician groups, insurers and business associations proved too big of a hurdle in this short session. Regardless, these efforts had positive outcomes in continuing the dialogue and understanding of these issues with legislators.

As we shift gears and move into the campaign season, ONA will work to maintain the good relationships with our friends in the Legislature and move to establish new ones with legislative candidates.

The following is a list of some health related bills considered by the 2012 Legislature:

  • HB 4009: Eliminates the monitoring entity from the Impaired Health Professional Program saving the State Board of Nursing over $100,000. Passed into law.
  • HB 4010: Requires private insurers to reimburse Nurse Practitioners at the same rate as physicians when providing the same service. Failed in the House.
  • HB 4015: Requires the Oregon Health Authority to develop and maintain a lead poisoning prevention clearinghouse on its website. Passed into law.
  • HB 4027: Expands immunity from liability for health care providers, including nurses, who provide services for charitable organization without compensation. Passed into law.
  • HB 4033: Exempts employee and retiree names maintained in records of Public Employees Retirement System from disclosure under public records law. Failed in the House.
  • HB 4063: Requires certain professional licensing agencies to accept applicant’s military training or experience as substitute for education or experience required for licensure, certification or registration if military training or experience is substantially similar to education and experience required for licensure, certification or registration; this law includes CNAs. Passed into law.
  • HB 4123: Requires the Oregon Health Authority to maintain a list of chemicals of concern for children’s health used in children’s products and requires manufacturers to disclose when the listed chemicals are present in a product. Failed in the House.
  • HB 4164: Formally approves the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange business plan and allows the Exchange to contract with carriers. Passed into law.
  • HB 4165: Removes the sunset on the Early Learning Council, establishing it as a permanent council in Oregon. Passed into law.
  • HB 4172: Establishes State Police Tobacco Law Enforcement program employing retired state police officers to enforce laws designed to discourage use of tobacco products by persons under 18 years of age. Passed into law.
  • SB 1503: Requires health care workers who do not wish to or are unable to receive an annual seasonal influenza vaccination to submit a written declination form, which would be a private health record. Failed in the House.
  • SB 1507: Removes requirements that a person subjected to an HIV test give specific informed consent to the test. Passed into law.
  • SB 1512: Bans the sale of lighting containing certain types and amounts of mercury. Passed into law.
  • SB 1565: Permits supervising physician or supervising physician organization to apply to Oregon Medical Board for dispensing authority for physician assistant. Requires supervising physician or supervising physician organization to register facility from which physician assistant will dispense as drug outlet with State Board of Pharmacy. Passed into law.
  • SB 1580: Provides legislative approval of the Oregon Health Authority proposals for coordinated care organizations, allowing CCOs across the state to begin to form. Passed into law. 

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