Oregon’s Legislative Clinicians’ Caucus highlights health policy wins from the 2022 session

Following the conclusion of the short 2022 legislative session, Oregon’s Legislative Clinicians’ Caucus released a statement highlighting the “historic investments in healthcare infrastructure and workforce development” that took place this year.

The Legislative Clinicians’ Caucus is a bipartisan group of lawmakers with provider backgrounds. The caucus includes Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, MD, Rep. Maxine Dexter, MD, Rep. Cedric Hayden, DDS, Rep. Rachel Prusak, FNP, and Rep. Lisa Reynolds, MD.

 

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The group specifically highlighted legislative efforts this year aimed at improving access to care and supporting public health, behavioral health, workforce development, and dental health.

“The health policy proposals & budget allocations we accomplished in 2022 advance important work throughout our state, particularly for those living with mental illness, those with economic insecurity, BIPOC, and rural communities,” said Sen. Hayward.

 

Access to care:

This year, lawmakers passed legislation that aims to increase access to primary care and behavioral health care through SB 1529. The bill requires insurers to provide three behavioral health or primary care visits per year, without requiring a co-pay.

In anticipation of the upcoming Medicaid redetermination process, legislators also passed legislation that requires the Oregon Health Authority and the Dept. of Human Services to develop a process to conduct redeterminations with a focus on avoiding disruptions in coverage or care.

Also among the bills highlighted by the caucus was HB 4052—a bill that establishes two culturally and linguistically-specific mobile health units for underserved communities.

 

Public Health:

To evaluate Oregon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers passed policy that will utilize independent consultants to evaluate response efforts such as resource utilization, epidemiological issues, emergency management coordination, and workforce challenges. A final report on the findings and future recommendations will be due in Sept. 2023.

A bill establishing a Community Information Exchange (CIE) workgroup to coordinate physical, social, and mental health services also passed this year. “Implementation of a statewide CIE in Oregon will allow community-based organizations, state agencies, health systems, county health departments, social service agencies, and technology partners to coordinate efforts to assess and address the social determinants of health,” reads the caucus statement.

 

Workforce Development:

Supporting the health care workforce was also top-of-mind for lawmakers this year. Policy passed this session includes HB 4003, which specifically focuses on supporting Oregon’s nursing workforce, HB 4004, which will distribute $132 million in grant money to support the behavioral health workforce, and HB 4096, which will allow out-of-state health practitioners to provide uncompensated, voluntary care in the state for up to 30 days.