With the passage of HB 2902, Oregon becomes the first
state in the nation to require insurance companies to follow ‘equal pay
for equal work’ rules on insurance reimbursements for Nurse
Practitioners, Physician Assistants and Physicians in primary care and
to your hard work and the hard work of hundreds of nurses and NPs
across the state, Oregon’s legislature successfully passed House Bill
2902 this session. The new law makes Oregon the first state in the
nation to require insurance companies to provide equal reimbursements to
primary care and mental health Nurse Practitioners, Physicians
Assistants and Physicians, when they perform the same work and bill
under the same codes.
In addition to requiring ‘equal pay for equal work’ for primary care
and mental health, NPs, PAs, and MDs, HB 2902 also prohibits insurers
from reducing physician rates to comply with the law and creates a task
force to study primary care and mental health reimbursement. The bill
also includes a sunset date in 2018.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants play a critical role in
delivering health care to patients in every corner of Oregon. In the
face of national health care legislation and Oregon’s move toward
community based care that emphasizes primary and preventive care, our
citizens will grow more and more reliant on advanced practice nurses and
physician assistants to provide high-quality, cost-effective care.
In 2009, one of Oregon’s largest insurance companies decreased
reimbursement rates for mental health services rendered by non-physician
providers. Other insurance companies quickly followed suit, resulting
in significant reimbursement cuts. This has caused a ripple effect
throughout the mental health industry and poses a serious barrier to the
ability of providers other than physicians to maintain their practices
and continue to serve Oregonians in need of mental health services.
When this trend started, the impact was clearly on mental health
providers. Since that time, nurse practitioners and physician assistants
in primary care have started receiving notice from insurers that their
reimbursement rates would be reduced. As was the case with mental
health, this jeopardizes patient access to care, the viability of nurse
practitioner and physician assistant run small businesses and clinics
that employ nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and undercuts
Oregon’s stated goal of shifting to a health care system that focuses on
primary and preventive care.