Result

Victory! Oregon Legislature Passes Landmark Health Reform

Victory!  Oregon Legislature Passes Landmark Health Reform. The bills expand access, tackle soaring costs, and set a path for possible public plan option.

The pair of bills passed the Oregon Senate this afternoon and now head to the Governor’s desk. HB 2009 addresses rising costs, HB 2116 expands coverage for children and low-income adults.

Passage of HB 2009 bodes well for national reform efforts to tame health care costs, which include many of the same strategies as the Oregon bill.

Highlights include:

• Allowing stronger oversight of health insurance rate hikes

• Cutting red tape by replacing the myriad versions of claims and billing forms with one common electronic form

• Encouraging adoption of effective health information technology

• Using best practices in medicine, making sure that doctors and patients know of the latest, most effective therapies for their conditions

• Improving health care cost transparency through an all-payer, all-claims database

• Establishing the Oregon Health Policy Board with the duty to contain costs, improve quality and expand access

• Directing the Authority’s Health Policy Board to develop a health insurance exchange, including a possible public plan option.

Applause for the Legislature for passing both coverage expansion and cost containment this session, and setting the stage for next steps. Special thanks should go to Rep. Greenlick, Rep. Kotek, Rep. Harker, Rep. Dembrow, Rep. Cannon, House Majority Leader Nolan, Rep. Holvey, Rep. Kennemer, Rep. Jefferson Smith, Rep. Shields, Sen. Bates, Sen. Johnson, Sen. Winters and Sen. Monnes Anderson.

Kudos to the Oregon Health Fund Board, appointed by Gov. Kulongoski, for bringing forward the excellent recommendations implemented through HB 2009. Thanks to the leadership and staff of the Governor’s office, DHS and the Oregon Office of Health Policy and Research for heroic work through the development of the recommendations and through the session. OHFB former director Barney Speight and OHFB interim director Carol Robinson deserve credit for working so darn hard to make this become a reality.

Hooray for the fantastic members of the health care coalition in Oregon! It’s been both effective, and fun, working so closely together this session.  We’re all stronger now to win the next steps.  

And huge props to the thousands of Oregonians – members of OSPIRG and many other groups – who attended hearings & town hall meetings, wrote letters and made phone calls, who came to the capitol to rally and lobby. 

Time to celebrate!

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