5 Things Oregon: Q&A w/Jeremy Vandehey, Suicide prevention bills, ACA subsidy expansion

This autumn, we mark our 10th anniversary of hosting our Oregon State of Reform conference and covering health policy in the state. It’s been because of the support from some diverse and unique organizations over the years, like FamilyCare and CareOregon, Regence and PacificSource, PH Tech and Kaiser, HMA and Providence. And, because of good partners like The Lund Report and CityClub.

So, as we get to the 10 year mark, I want to just extend this thank you — to our readers, our supporters, and the folks that allow us to play this unique role in Oregon health care. We appreciate you very, very much.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Vandehey talks health reform priorities

Jeremy Vandehey is the Director of the Health Policy and Analytics Division at the Oregon Health Authority. He knows Oregon health policy as well as anyone in the state, but more importantly, you won’t meet a nicer guy. In this Q&A, Vandehey discusses how his work at OHA has changed during the pandemic, his priority legislation, and the health reform efforts he has his eyes on. He says his three main health policy concerns are health equity, health costs, and building toward universal coverage.

Vandehey’s priority legislation includes HB 2081, which he says creates accountability for the statewide health care cost target program. He’s also watching legislation requiring more transparency around consolidation within the health system, and SB 65, which will move the insurance marketplace from DCBS over to OHA.


2. Legislature status update

The deadline for bills to pass out of their policy committees is still a month away, but hundreds of health-related bills have been referred to committee. Over 150 bills have been assigned to the House Committee on Health Care, five of which have been given an early ‘do pass’ recommendation. Three bills (HB 2360HB 2081HB 2044) are scheduled for hearings today.

Seventy-three bills have been assigned to the Senate Committee on Health Care, and 67 bills are in the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery. Three bills from that committee (SB 89SB 93SB 280) have crossed over to the House.

3. Federal Detailed Agenda coming Thursday

On Thursday, we will release the Detailed Agenda for the 2021 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference. You’ll see a curated list of over 100 speakers lined up to be with you on April 7-8th. This will be perhaps the single best way to interact directly with the actors shaping federal health policy, like Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon’s chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He’ll be one of our opening keynote speakers. We’ve also created a state “learning lab” focused on elevating the most prominent lessons in health reform from states across the country. Oregon’s CCO model will be one of our featured case studies, and includes Pat Allen of OHA, Eric Hunter of CareOregon, and Chuck Hoffman, MD of Eastern Oregon CCO.

Check out the Topical Agenda to get a feel for the two-day event and take a look at our Convening Panel to see some of the folks who helped put the agenda together. If you haven’t registered to be with us yet, we’d be honored to have you join us.


4. Mental health challenges and suicide prevention bills

A recent FAIR Health national analysis shows percentages of medical claims related to intentional self-harm, overdoses and substance use disorders, and mental health diagnoses have all significantly increased during the pandemic for teenagers. Provisional data from the CDC shows overdose deaths in Oregon have increased 22.5% in the past 12 months compared to the previous year.

The Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery last week heard testimony on three bills related to suicide prevention. The bills include SB 563, which would direct the state’s Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Advisory Committee to include children as young as 5 years old in its suicide intervention and prevention strategies, and SB 682, which establishes and supports the role of OHA’s Adult Suicide Intervention and Prevention Coordinator.

5. Health reform in federal COVID bill

Over the weekend, the US Senate approved the $1.9 trillion COVID federal relief package. The House is expected to vote on the amended legislation early this week. In a recent piece, State of Reform columnist Jim Capretta outlines the health measures in the bill that “will be significant for policy debates in the years ahead.”

Among the list of changes is an increase in premium tax credits for households receiving insurance through the ACA exchanges. The bill would fully subsidize coverage for households below 150% FPL, it would increase subsidies for those up to 400% FPL, and it would remove the 400% FPL cap, allowing any household to get coverage through the ACA exchanges with a premium of no more than 8.5% of annual income.

recent analysis estimates that for an enrollee in Oregon at 430% FPL, the expanded subsidies would decrease monthly premiums from $675 to $141 (lowest-cost bronze), $923 to $390 (benchmark silver), and $973 to $439 (lowest-cost gold). While the subsidy increase is set to expire after 2022, Capretta reasons that once in place, Congress will make the changes permanent.