Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s proposed budget reforms OHP funding

Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s $23.6 billion proposed general fund and lottery budget for 2019-21 allots over $6.2 billion to Human Services Agencies, which include the Commission for the Blind, DHS, Oregon Health Authority, the Long Term Care Ombudsman, and the Psychiatric Security Review Board. The new budget for those agencies would represent a 16.4 percent increase in funding from the General Fund over the 2017-19 Legislatively Approved Budget.

The governor’s list of “key investments” in the agencies includes advancing the coordinated care model, supporting healthy children and families, sustainably funding health care, protecting Oregon’s children, helping families reach self sufficiency, investments in services for seniors, and serving individuals with disabilities in the community.

In Brown’s accompanying recommended budget and policy agenda for 2019-21, much of the focus for health care-related funding centers on reforms to funding for Oregon’s Medicaid program, OHP. A significant reduction in federal funding for OHP made such budget reforms necessary.

“Governor Brown convened health care partners in a consensus-driven plan to secure long-term, sustainable funding for OHP to provide health care coverage for 99 percent of adults and 100 percent of kids by optimizing federal funds, funding the program from a broader revenue base, and providing a six-year, stable funding timeline,” according to the governor’s agenda.

Proposed reforms include:

  • Increasing the hospital assessment tax on some hospitals from 5.3 percent to 6 percent of net patient revenue, resulting in an additional $98 million;
  • Reinstating and broadening the base of a current insurance and managed care tax, resulting in an additional $410 million;
  • Subsidizing employers who don’t provide affordable health care coverage to employees, resulting in $119.5 million;
  • Raising the tobacco tax by $2 per pack starting in 2020, for a total of $346 million over the next biennium;
  • And capping annual-care cost growth at 3.4 percent per member, to save an estimated $638 million in the next biennium.

“Nearly 1,300,000 individuals receive health care coverage through the Oregon Health Plan, PEBB and OEBB,” according to the budget.

Other health care-related budget items include: $4.5 million for the Oregon Health Authority to support individuals in new permanent supportive housing, several public-health efforts to address the impacts of climate change, an additional $10 million for Hepatitis C treatments for people covered by OHP, $13.8 million for integrating substance use disorder treatment and behavioral health programs for families, and $1.9 million specifically for OHA to achieve the goals of “CCO 2.0,” the next step in advancing Oregon’s coordinated care system.

On mental health and substance use, Brown’s budget investments include care for pregnant and postpartum women who struggle with addiction, improving standards of care and access to treatment, opening a temporary unit at the Oregon State Hospital Junction City campus, increasing capacity for behavioral health care at a community level, stockpiling Naloxone, housing and recovery support, fixing treatment structures and accreditation standards, and supporting rural-focused programs like telehealth.

Image: Turning Point: An Agenda for Oregon’s Future


For a closer look at what’s to come in 2019 in terms of policy, take a look at Governor Brown’s detailed health care agenda.