5 Things Oregon: Special session, Trillium decision, Linda Roman

We’ve been writing this newsletter now for 9 years, visiting your inbox once a month with five things we think are worth keeping an eye on. They might not be the same five things that you think are always the most important thing for your organization. But, hopefully you find a thing or two in this newsletter that is new, or gives you some insight into the conversations taking place in Oregon health care and health policy.

So, thanks for allowing us the opportunity to help inform your work. We can certainly improve. So, let me know how we might do that. I’m always up for the feedback!





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Budget cuts at OHA

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators returned to the capitol on Monday to address an over $1 billion budget shortfall. For health and human services, the majority of core programs and services were spared from significant cuts. Similar to what was discussed in a July Committee meeting, the new budget cuts $178.7 million in general funds from the budgets that fall under the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services.

Of those, the budget makes $103 million in general fund cuts across a range of OHA’s programs, as well as additional offsets “unrelated to the pandemic.” SB 5723 also supports increased funding for a growing Medicaid caseload and takes into account a temporary increase in the Medicaid match rate. Oregon State Hospital will need to eliminate 21 positions, though they are not expected to impact mental health services for patients. Our rundown of the special session is available here.


2. Thank you to our Convening panel!

We host the 2020 Oregon State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference this year on October 8th. A few weeks ago, however, we kicked off our Convening Panel process, which gathers input from some of Oregon’s most thoughtful health care and health policy leaders. Their input helps us shape the Topical Agenda and identify some of the speakers we’ll want to have ready for you in October.

So, if you have any topics, speakers, or content ideas, we would love to hear them.  And, if you already know you want to be with us on the 8th, take advantage of our Early Bird Registration rate! We’d be honored to have you join us!

3. An update on the Trillium decision

OHA announced last week it will make a decision “by mid-August” regarding Trillium Community Health Plan’s application to serve Oregon Health Plan members in the Tri-County area. The announcement is the latest development in Trillium’s long-running effort to move into the $1.5 billion-a-year Medicaid market in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties.

Trillium submitted updated provider network information in June after OHA put the health plan’s contract on hold due to its inadequate provider network in the Portland area. If approved, Trillium could begin enrolling members as soon as September 2020.

4. Gov. Brown has a new Health Policy Advisor

Gov. Kate Brown announced last week the appointment of Linda Roman as Health Policy Advisor, effective immediately. Roman will take over the position from Tina Edlund who announced her retirement at the beginning of the year but stayed on longer due to COVID-19.

Before joining the Governor’s Office, Roman worked with the Oregon Latino Health Coalition and the Oregon Health Equity Alliance. “Linda’s approach focuses on health equity and accessibility, and she brings an unparalleled passion for serving all Oregonians…Linda’s experience and collaborative nature will help us tackle complex health issues head on and help us achieve our vision of quality, affordable health care for all Oregonians, regardless of who they are or where they live,” said Gov. Brown.


5. Final rates for individual and small-group market

DFR announced last week the final rate decisions for the individual market next year. Six health plans on the market will see a combined average of a modest 1.8% rate increase. The range among individual plans varies from a 3.5% decrease (Kaiser) to an 11.1 increase (BridgeSpan).

In the small group market, the average change for nine companies is a 3.7% increase, ranging from a 1.1% decrease (UnitedHealthcare Inc.) to a 7% increase (Health Net). For 2021, all Oregon counties will have at least two on-exchange options and at least three total options. DFR also says the Oregon reinsurance program “continues to help stabilize the market – lowering rates by 6 percent for the third straight year.”