regon eNewsletter

Legislative Update

Rose Cox Englert, Sr. Manager Regulatory Affairs, CareOregon

The first two weeks of the state legislative session are off to a highly unusual start, not only with a great deal of policy activity in legislative committees, but the sudden resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber (effective Feb. 18).

Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat, will serve until the next general election in 2016. While this situation was certainly unexpected until recently, the CareOregon public policy team feels confident that Secretary Brown will be fundamentally aligned with the goals of health reform and social determinants of health work that CareOregon embraces.

In coming weeks, we will be reaching out to the new governor and her advisors to ensure the incoming executive team in Salem understands our work and supports the efforts of CCOs statewide. What is uncertain is whether Lynne Saxton, the Kitzhaber appointed (but not yet confirmed) director of the Oregon Health Authority will be permanently named to that position. We expect, however, likely that will happen in Gov. Brown’s Administration..
Read more information about Lynne Saxton.

On Feb. 2, the Legislative Session began in earnest as legislators officially settled into their committee assignments. Over 2,000 bills have already been introduced for possible consideration in 2015, and hundreds more will be introduced before this session concludes in July. Both legislators and advocates are working to review all of these bills and formulate policy positions.
The CareOregon Public Policy Department has identified numerous bills that have the potential of impacting the Oregon Health Plan, and we are prepared to engage on many issues that will shape health policy in Oregon.

Our Public Policy Department has focused on the health care committees in the House and Senate, as well as the Senate Human Services & Early Childhood Committee and the House Human Services & Housing Committee. In just the first two legislative weeks, these committees have held informational hearings on over 50 pieces of legislation. We expect this frantic pace to continue, because of important legislative work necessary to continue health care transformation within the Oregon Health Plan.

Issues of particular interest that we will be engaging on and reporting to you about during the year include full funding of the Oregon Health Plan, changes to mental health pharmacy integration, and policies for high-cost drugs. CareOregon is also leading efforts, in collaboration with other CCOs and Oregon Health Authority, to streamline OHA processes that will assist us in our communications with members and to help them access care more easily.

As bills continue to move, and changes in state leadership occur, we will be sure to keep you up to speed on issues of importance to CareOregon, and our members and providers.