Victory! Two Oregon Health Care Reform Bills Pass
By Eric Carlson and Stan Aschenbrenner, Lake Oswego UMC
Time to celebrate! MACG’s #1 priority health care reform bills both passed during the recently-adjourned Oregon legislative session.
- Create an Exchange where both individuals and small businesses can buy affordable health care coverage
- Create Coordinated Care Organizations for Medicaid recipients, coordinating services to control health care costs and deliver better health outcomes.
The MACG Health Care Action Team organized a ‘full-court press’ on legislators to support these bills:
- The team organized fellow MACG members to contact Senators and Representatives (emails and calls) over 300 times.
- At least three team members went to Salem every week during the session to talk to representatives directly and attend committee meetings.
- The team submitted this letter to the Oregon Health Policy Board, and Eric Carlson, Lake Oswego UMC, used it as basis for his testimony in front of a Senate committee.
- Team members attended over 10 legislator town hall events and made comments about health care reform.
- Delphine Busch, Sisters of the Holy Names, was able to publish this Letter to the Editor in The Oregonian.
In addition, MACG pushed hard – and won - stronger consumer representation on the governing boards of the new Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), an issue many will remember from the MACG Health Care Reform assembly .
The original bill provided for only one community representative on the CCO boards. MACG testified that the number should be raised to one-third of the board. The final bill provides that "at least three members" will be community representatives.
Having more community representatives on CCO governing boards will make it more likely that these organizations will truly support the needs of the community.
Jim Whittenburg from Metanoia and Delphine Busch and Sr. Lucinda Peightal from Sisters of the Holy Names attended the Governor's signing ceremony for SB 1580 on 3/2/2012, and stayed to watch the House pass HB 4164A. Pictured: Sr. Lucinda Peightal shakes hands with Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Director of the Oregon Health Authority.
When MACG members talked to legislators or their staffs in Salem to advocate for passage of these bills, we heard often "Oh, yes. MACG. We've heard from your folks."
So to those of you who followed up on your commitment to participate in this critical advocacy work by contacting legislators, spreading the word to your networks, etc. - GREAT JOB! It made a difference!
If you have questions about either of these bills, or about how they are being implemented, contact Eric Carlson or Stan Aschenbrenner.
The Health Care Action Team is already hard at work planning for what’s ahead: ensuring that quality consumer representatives are picked for CCO boards, continuing to be a watchdog as these bills get implemented, and following up on equity issues.
Check the MACG Calendar for next Health Care Action Team meeting and get involved! Or email Bob Brown, Havurah Shalom, to be added to the Health Care Action Team email list.
More details on the bills that passed:
Senate Bill 1580 allows the Oregon Health Authority to continue the process of transforming the delivery of health care to persons on the Oregon Health Plan. The organizations that currently provide only medical care will be replaced by Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) that will deliver medical, dental, behavioral (addiction treatment), and mental health care. The evidence is that the various health problems are often interrelated. It doesn't make sense, from either the patient's perspective or the taxpayer's perspective, for the (somewhat arbitrarily defined) kinds of care to be in their separate silos. The CCOs will also focus on managing ongoing conditions, such as congestive health failure and diabetes, in order to reduce emergency room use and hospitalizations. These organizations will serve as a model to be used for a broader population down the road.
House Bill 4164 authorizes the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation to implement its business plan. The Exchange will be a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to compare policies on an apples-to-apples basis and see clearly what the coverages, premiums, co-pays and other costs will be. The Exchange will also be the mechanism for providing premium assistance to qualifying low-income individuals and tax credits to qualifying small businesses under the federal Affordable Care Act.