5 Things Oregon: Drug pricing transparency, gubernatorial candidates, Topical Agenda

We first launched our Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference in 2012.  Now, we cover six states, and soon to be eight. So, thank you.  Thanks for reading, thanks for attending, and thanks for your engagement.

Your support has allowed us to grow over the years to be a non-partisan, policy agnostic convening and information outlet with more than 450 attendees in Portland and 16,000 subscribers to our Oregon list.  It’s been an honor to be a part of.  So, thank you.

Now, with help from Marjie High and Emily Boerger, here are 5 Things We’re Watching in Oregon health care this month.


DJ 5 Things Signature

1.  Health care platforms in the race for governor

Polling in the gubernatorial race has been surprisingly consistent: it’s close. New polling this month has the race a statistical dead heat. Rep. Knute Buehler, (R-Bend) has elevated health care as a focus of the race, announcing a six-point health care platform. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown‘s response rests on her record of health care achievements while in office.

Both Buehler’s and Brown’s proposals address four key aspects of health care in Oregon: Medicare and Medicaid, child health, reproductive rights, and the opioid crisis, though the candidates have different approaches to the issues. In addition, Buehler would like to expand access to mental health services and drive down state health care costs.  Marjie High on our team has a more detailed run down of the two proposals here.


2. ICYMI: Our Topical Agenda is now out!

In case you missed it, earlier this week we released our Topical Agenda for the 2018 Oregon State of Reform Policy Conference. This year’s conference is coming up on October 16th. With over 450 attendees and some of the most influential healthcare leaders in the state, this is an event we’d love to have you make!

As you may know, our agenda is built with input from stakeholders across all silos in the Oregon healthcare system. We’ll be exploring policy and politics in healthcare, assessing opportunities for reform, and diving deep into costs, disruptions, and care delivery. As always, if you have any comments or suggestions on what we should include, you can send those my way. And if you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us!

3.  Task force on drug pricing transparency

The Joint Interim Task Force on Fair Pricing of Prescription Drugs held an informational meeting on Tuesday to explore policy strategies and legislative proposals to improve pharmaceutical pricing transparency in Oregon. The goal of the meeting was to evaluate the cost factors impacting the prices Oregonians pay for pharmaceutical products and possible methods to bring transparency to these factors.

The task force reviewed results from a stakeholder survey on pricing transparency. The survey identified top factors that influence drug pricing including list prices, rebates, incentive programs, and utilization demand. The task force also evaluated legislative proposals from around the US as possible models to increase transparency in the state. Additional meetings are scheduled for September and October as the task force prepares to submit a report to the legislative health committees by November 1, 2018.

4. Measles cases highlight risks to kids

OHA confirmed the second case of measles in the Portland area this month tied to a traveler in the area July 30th to August 2nd. These cases come in the wake of  the exposure of upward of 500 adults and children earlier this June and July, when officials discovered a patient diagnosed in an emergency room exposed 40 unvaccinated youngsters and others.

Troublingly, an analysis released in May showed a sharp increase in the rate of parents choosing nonmedical exemptions to vaccines, like the measles vaccine, for their kindergarten-age children. The rate of exemptions in Oregon had fallen in 2015 after a law took effect requiring a parent to receive education about the benefits and risks of immunization. However, since that initial decrease, the rates have increased each year, to 7.5 percent in 2018.


5. Social determinants of health figure prominently in 2018 Oregon Health Assessment

Produced every five years, OHA recently released its 2018 Oregon State Health Assessment.  For the first time, this year’s assessment elevates the social determinants of health to a level on par with systemic and clinical improvements. The report concludes that Oregon has improved in several areas including reducing opioid-related deaths and rates of HIV infection, increasing immunization rates, and lowering rates of teen pregnancy and smoking among adults and teenagers.

OHA will use the assessment to identify priorities and strategies for the 2020 – 2024 State Health Improvement Plan. To further inform development of the plan, OHA announced it will award up to six mini-grants of up to $7000 to solicit feedback from communities most impacted by health disparities. Mini-grant applications are due by 5:00 pm, August 31st.