Our last Oregon newsletter of 2022 includes some information about some of the on-deck health bills for next year, updates on the state’s development of a Basic Health Program to continue Medicaid coverage for those expected to lose coverage once the PHE ends, and several workforce support initiatives underway in the state.
Thanks for reading! We look forward to continuing to our work in Oregon heading into the new year. Have a wonderful rest of 2022!
State of Reform
1. Interim committee considers health bills for 2023
The House Interim Committee on Health Care recently approved a handful of legislative concepts for introduction in the 2023 legislative session. These include initiatives to require OHA to study healthcare access in the state and to require the state’s board of nursing to evaluate the scope of practice of licensed practical nurses—both of which require reports to the legislature by 2023. Members also approved legislation to establish a Rare Disease Advisory Council.
A Senate interim committee also discussed efforts to extend the financial support that the federal government provided to parents of disabled children during the pandemic. This initiative—which members haven’t yet approved—would remove the prohibition on parents acting as paid caregivers for their minor children. The committee also considered a similar not-yet-approved bill to seek a waiver for the establishment of a paid parent caregiver program through Medicaid.
2. State health leaders developing Basic Health Program for Medicaid patients losing coverage
In preparation for the projected drop in Medicaid coverage once the public health emergency ends, the legislature’s Joint Task Force on the Bridge Health Care Program has been developing a health plan for these individuals that will soon lose their qualifications for the Oregon Health Plan. While the state is implementing this Basic Health Program, it’s requesting an amendment to its 1115 waiver to allow it to maintain coverage for individuals who are ineligible post-PHE, using funding from the recently passed HB 4035.
The State will pursue the Bridge Health Plan through a 1331 waiver, and it will cover every individual between 138% and 200% of the federal poverty level. Task Force Co-Chair Sen. Steiner Hayward explained during a recent legislative meeting that the 1331 waiver route is preferable to a 1332 waiver, at least initially. “Under 1332, people could choose to stay in the marketplace. Under 1331, it’s all or nothing … the state’s about to submit a 1115 waiver that will allow people to stay on the [OHP] even if they should be going off into a basic health plan until we get the basic health plan up and running.”
3. What They’re Watching: Andrew Suchocki, Clackamas Health Centers
In this edition of “What They’re Watching,” Andrew Suchocki, Medical Director for Clackamas Health Centers, discusses the organization’s work in preparing to take value-based payment to the next level.
“We’re working on being nimble and responsive to the needs of the state, our payors, and our patients to blend those goals together. Meaning ensuring that we’re providing really high-quality care, but also addressing gaps in coverage that were created by COVID, but also just in general. General care gaps that we have with our patients. We’re really tooling our organization to meet those needs, and doing better in care coordination.”
4. OHSU initiatives, Future Ready Oregon support Oregon’s healthcare workforce
Industry experts highlighted initiatives that aim to bolster Oregon’s healthcare workforce at last month’s 2022 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference. Future Ready Oregon Director Jennifer Purcell said grants available through the program support healthcare recruitment, retention, and career advancement opportunities for key populations.
OHSU’s Dr. Paul Gorman discussed several programs the college offers to help support the healthcare workforce while improving equity, including the Wy’east Post-Baccalaureate Pathway, which helps American Indian and Alaska Native students excel as medical students and physicians through academic preparation, training, and culturally relevant learning experiences.
5. Kotek announces new OHA Director
Current Health Share of Oregon CEO James Schroeder will lead the Oregon Health Authority starting on Jan. 10th, 2023, Governor-Elect Tina Kotek announced on Tuesday. Schroeder, who has vast experience in healthcare leadership, will replace current Director Patrick Allen following his resignation announcement last month.
While Allen didn’t provide a reason for his resignation, Kotek said on the campaign trail that she would fire him over what she said was OHA’s failure to adequately respond to behavioral health needs in the state. “Our state is at a critical turning point, especially when it comes to the delivery of mental health and addiction services,” Schroeder said. “I am honored by this appointment, and I want Oregonians across the state to know that I take this responsibility very seriously. I will work tirelessly to ensure that the OHA team produces results for our communities.”