Oregon Legislature on Health Care – Addie Greene Reports

Legislature: Encouraging Healthy Communities to Thrive

The Legislature, whose 2019 session ended June 30, passed 14 bills encouraging healthy communities to thrive. They are:

            SB 52 requires school districts to create a comprehensive plan, by the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, to prevent student suicides. Sen. Jeff Golden was a sponsor.

            SB 250 prohibits individuals from being excluded from participating in, or denied benefits under, a health benefits plan on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability. It allows Oregon residents to be insured under master group policies issued outside of Oregon. It requires individual health benefit plans to be offered on a guaranteed issue basis without preexisting condition exclusions. It allows Department of Consumer and Business Services to certify more than one bronze plan and one silver plan.

            SB 262 extends the sunset for a property tax exemption for multiple-unit housing, taking effect on the 91st day following adjournment.

            SB 278 extends eligibility for the Rent Guarantee Program to individuals between 16 and 26 years of age who were wards within the past 10 years. It prohibits the Housing and Community Services Department or providers from charging low-income participants for tenant education courses.

            SB 526 directs the Oregon Health Authority to design, implement, and maintain a voluntary program to provide nurse home visiting services to families with infants up to six months of age. It requires health benefit plans to cover nurse home visiting services to enrollees with newborns without cost-sharing, taking effect on 91st day following adjournment. Sen. Golden was a sponsor.

            SB 608 prohibits landlords from terminating month-to-month tenancy without cause after 12 months of occupancy, limits rent increases for residential tenancies to one per year, and limits the maximum annual rent increase to seven percent above the annual change in the consumer price index. It was effective on passage.

            SB 698 directs the State Board of Pharmacy to adopt rules requiring that prescription drugs be labeled in English and another language upon request of the practitioner, patient, or patient representative. Requires that labels and informational inserts be available in at least 14 languages other than English and directs the board to update available languages at least once every 10 years. It becomes operative January 1, 2021.

            HB 2935 requires pharmacies to provide a prescription reader to a person who is blind, exempting correctional institutions. It was effective on passage.

            SB 770 establishes a Task Force on Universal Health Care charged with recommending a Health Care for All Oregon plan to provide publicly funded, equitable, affordable, comprehensive and high quality health care to all Oregon residents. It requires the Oregon Health Authority to provide a report to the Legislature no later than May 1, 2020 discussing potential eligibility requirements for the Medicaid Buy-In program or public option, options for targeting specified groups, recommendations for legislative changes necessary to implement the plan, and any federal approval required. It was effective on passage. Sen. Golden and Rep. Pam Marsh were sponsors.

            SB 910 requires retail and hospital pharmacies to post written notice of the availability of naloxone at the pharmacy. It allows the pharmacist, upon being presented with a prescription for an opiate or opioid of specified strength, to offer to prescribe and provide a naloxone kit. It removes the requirement for written approval by a parole or probation officer for administration of a synthetic opiate as treatment for opiate addiction if requirements of the statute are met. It removes the requirement for a pharmacy to report the name, address, phone number, date of birth, and sex of a patient for whom naloxone was prescribed and allows a pharmacy, health care professional, or pharmacist to distribute multiple naloxone kits to social service agencies or other persons who work with individuals who have experienced opiate overdose, taking effect on the 91st day following adjournment.

            HB 2005 creates a family and medical leave insurance program to provide partially or fully compensated time away from work to a covered individual who meets certain criteria while the covered individual is on family leave, medical leave, or safe leave. It requires employer and employee contributions to fund the program, exempting employers with fewer than 25 full-time employees. It provides a grant program for certain employers to defray costs and allows self-employed individuals and tribal government employers to elect family and medical leave insurance coverage. It appropriates moneys to cover start-up costs related to the program. It exempts from renegotiation collective bargaining agreements entered into before the effective date of the act, which takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment.

            HB 2010 continues a funding mechanism to keep thousands of Oregonians insured through the Oregon Health Plan. It extends the Oregon Reinsurance Program and authorizes the Department of Consumer and Business Services to request an extension of the waiver for state innovation. It extends to 2026 and increases to two percent the assessment on earnings from health plan premiums and payments by the Oregon Health Authority to managed care organizations and includes health care stop loss coverage. It temporarily increases the net reimbursement guarantee to Oregon Health and Science University for costs of services paid for with Medicaid funds.

            HB 2016 requires a public employer, upon request by a labor union representative, to authorize release time to that representative and requires the employer to provide the representative reasonable access to employees in the appropriate bargaining unit. It permits the employer to deduct dues, fees, and assessments from the salary and wages of a public employee who has authorized the deduction. It makes certain activities, such as discouraging employees from joining labor unions, unfair labor practices. Sen. Golden was a sponsor.

            HB 2270 increases the tax on the distribution of cigarettes, including inhalant delivery systems (vaping) on tobacco products but excluding those for marijuana. It prohibits the distribution or sale of cigarettes or certain cigars in packages containing fewer than 20. It provides for distribution of the increased tax revenues to the Oregon Health Authority for medical assistance programs, including mental health services, and for public health programs, including programs addressing tobacco and nicotine-related diseases. Because it is a proposed tax increase, voters must approve or reject it at the next general election.

Addie Greene, Ashland