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2011 ONA Legislative Agenda

Nurses make up the largest segment of Oregon’s health care workforce. From hospitals to home health agencies, from public health departments to school based health centers, over 46,000 nurses are on the frontline in our health care system providing quality care to Oregonians. With experience in every facet of health care, nurses have a valuable perspective to contribute on improving population health, enhancing patient experiences, and limiting the costs of care.

Founded in 1904, the Oregon Nurses Association advocates for the best working conditions for our members and the very best health care for our patients.

Top Priorities for Our Members

The Oregon Nurses Association’s Cabinet on Health Policy has identified the following as ONA’s legislative priorities for the 2011 session:

  • Health Care Reform: Passage of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gives Oregon an opportunity to create a health insurance exchange that provides businesses and consumers a meaningful choice of health plans and providers. Leveraging the state’s buying power to redesign our health care delivery system will ensure better access to affordable and effective care, greater reliance on nursing services and ultimately drive down the cost of care for everyone.
  • Workplace Safety: The health care setting continues to be one of the most dangerous places to work. Updating Oregon’s health care workplace violence laws to require that all violent incidents taking place in a health care facility are reported would generate data to better understand and recognize the situations in which violence most often occurs and, as a result, take steps to keep nurses and health care workers safe on the job.
  • Mental Health Payment Parity for Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists: Oregon’s Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists provide mental health treatment to a growing portion of our population. Cuts in reimbursement rates for mental health services performed by “non-physician” providers limit access to these services and underscore the need to require equal pay for equal work.
  • Increase the Tobacco Tax: Every day, Oregon’s nurses see the devastating impacts that tobacco use has on the health of our population. Increasing Oregon’s tobacco tax would serve dual purposes of discouraging young people from smoking and generating much needed revenue to help the state pay for critical health services and tobacco-cessation programs.
  • Protect Funding for Nursing Programs: Nursing programs at OHSU and in Oregon’s Community Colleges prepare students to enter Oregon’s Nursing Workforce. Funding for these programs is essential to meet the workforce needs of our future, especially as health reforms that focus on primary and preventive care and expanded access to care are implemented.

Additional Priorities for ONA Nurses

  • Patient Safety: Patients who visit facilities known a “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” deserve accurate information about the services that these centers do (and do not) offer and protections that guarantee confidentiality of patient records. In Oregon these facilities are unregulated, leaving consumers seeking a range of pregnancy-related services vulnerable.
  • Banning BPA: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen linked to breast cancer and other serious health problems. BPA is used in plastic products like baby bottles and in canned food linings and has been found to leach into the contents. Limiting the use of BPA, and labeling it when it’s in a product will give consumers the information they need to make informed choices.
  • Rural Healthcare Workforce: The Oregon Medical Malpractice Reinsurance Program was created by the Oregon Legislature to keep rural providers from being driven out of practice by high malpractice premiums. The subsidy this program provides to rural physicians and Nurse Practitioners is immensely valuable and is helping rural Nurse Practitioners who practice OB and primary care stay in practice, providing health care to their communities.
  • Workers Compensation Timelines: Currently Oregon Nurse Practitioners have 90 days to treat injured workers. While many workplace injuries are resolved in this time, some require a longer treatment period. Extending the time a Nurse Practitioner can treat an injured worker would improve access and continuity of care for injured workers.
  • “Work Family Life” Task Force: Oregon’s workforce has evolved, and many workers and families are struggling to meet the demands of their job(s) and caring for aging parents and young children. A “Work Family Life” Task Force would examine a range of policies and would consider which options would best serve Oregon families and employers today and into the future.

Get Involved!

Health Care Workplace Violence Bill

HB 3229, which would Update Oregon’s Health Care Workplace Violence law, is one of ONA’s top priorities this session. We’ll need help from nurses sharing stories with legislators, through calls, e-mails, and testimony about why this issues matters to you.

Please take a moment to share your story, and let us know if you’re interested in helping. ONA Government Relations staff will contact you to follow up after you complete the brief survey below. Note that none of your information will be used without your permission.

Mental Health Payment Parity for NPs and CNSs

Oregon’s Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists provide mental health treatment to a growing portion of our population. Cuts in reimbursement rates for mental health services performed by “non-physician” providers limit access to these services and underscore the need to require equal pay for equal work.

With the help of State Representative Tina Kotek (D-Portland), and State Representative Bill Kennemer (R-Oregon City) ONA has introduced legislation that would require insurers to reimburse providers equal rates when they perform equal services. For example, if this legislation passes, a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) who bills under the same codes as a physician for mental health service, would be reimbursed the same rate as the physician. This would comply with the spirit of Oregon’s Mental Health Parity Law, and would increase access to Mental Health Services.

This bill has a hearing on March 9, and will need to have support from nurses in order to move forward. Many of you already helped out this Fall by completing a survey on reimbursement rates. Now that there is a bill in legislature, we need you to write to your legislators and share your story. Make sure to include the impact that the cuts have had on your practice, and the impact this has had on access to mental health services in your area. Don’t forget to encourage them to support HB 3028 to improve access to Mental Health Services.

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