Oregon Senate passes bill to preserve pieces of the ACA

On Thursday, the Oregon Senate passed a bill aimed at aligning certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act with state law. The bill, which came at the request of Governor Brown for the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), passed on a 25-5 vote.

The bill comes in the midst of ongoing federal action to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and covers a broad range of topics and provisions.

 

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SB 250 would prohibit most individual health plans from denying coverage, or offering different terms, to people with preexisting conditions.

The bill would also establish mental health parity requirements for certain individual health benefit plans. This includes coverage of treatment for chemical dependency and mental or nervous conditions.

“When a person signs up for health insurance, they should be confident and comfortable that the health coverage they need will be covered, whether it’s because of a condition they already had or chemical dependency,” said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson in a prepared statement. “Health insurance isn’t worth much if it doesn’t cover much. This bill expands what health insurers will cover in Oregon.”

Related to DCBS, the bill authorizes the department to collect fees on insurers that are exempt from a provision of ORS 742A, or another provision of the Insurance Code related to specific coverage requirements. According to the bill, this is to prevent an insurer from gaining a market advantage.

SB 250 also allows DCBS to cap the number of enrollees in an individual health plan if adding more individuals would have a “material adverse effect upon the carrier’s ability to fulfill the carrier’s contractual obligations or result in the financial impairment of the carrier.”

The bill also prohibits health benefit plans from denying benefits or participation to individuals based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability.

A similar bill in Washington State was signed by Governor Inslee this week. Washington’s HB 1870 puts in place protections for individuals with preexisting conditions and prohibits patients from being dropped from coverage unless fraud is involved.

Oregon’s bill now heads to the House for consideration.