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ONA Report on the 2018 Oregon Legislative Session


Oregon nurses helped lead and support a variety of successful and important policy issues during Oregon’s February 2018 short legislative session.

Amid an election year, several ONA’s priority bills produced bipartisan compromise, leading to meaningful steps forward on prescription drug transparency, gun control, and health care reform, among others.

The 2018 session did also involve some disappointing outcomes, primarily the legislature’s failure to successfully pass the HOPE amendment, which would have enshrined health care as a fundamental right in Oregon’s constitution. This outcome largely speaks to why it remains so imperative to get work to support candidates who will prioritize nursing and patient advocacy in their work, particularly within the State Senate chamber, where this legislation was prevented from moving forward.

In this report, you can read more about how ONA’s priorities fared this session. For more information or questions on any of the issues, please contact ONA’s Government Relations Office at (503) 293-0011.

HOPE Amendment (HJR 203)

After the resounding victory of Measure 101 to protect health care funding for Oregonians this past January, one of ONA’s key priorities this session was House Joint Resolution 203, also referred to as the HOPE Amendment. The proposal would have recognized affordable access to cost-effective, and medically appropriate health care as a fundamental right in Oregon’s Constitution. If passed, the measure would have been referred out to voters in the 2018 election to affirm. More than 100 ONA members, advocates, community leaders and legislators came together to support the HOPE initiative in both the House and Senate committees on health care to send a clear message to legislators that protecting affordable access to care is critical for Oregonians.

However, after successful hearings and the approval of the House of Representatives, the Senate Health Care committee failed to move it out of committee, citing no path to victory in the State Senate. While this is a disappointing outcome, it speaks to why it is critical to continue to educate the public and decision-makers about why protecting and expanding access to care is important for Oregonians. With the 2018 elections fast approaching, we need your help to elect legislators who will make health care a top priority – please contact the Government Relations team to get involved this election season so we can make sure we elect leaders who prioritize nursing and the patients we serve.

Prescription Drug Transparency (HB 4005)

After several years of working deliberately with stakeholders, Representative Rob Nosse’s (D- Portland) bill to increase transparency in drug price setting received bi-partisan super-majority support in both chambers this session. House Bill 4005 (HB 4005) establishes a statewide prescription drug cost and price transparency program that requires manufacturers to report on drug cost increases of 10 percent or more. This is a critical first step in helping to better equip consumers with more detailed information as it relates to prescription drug company costs trends and addressing what is a major overall cost driver in our healthcare system.

“We want to praise the lawmakers who put patients before politics to pass HB 4005,” said ONA member, Diane Solomon, PhD, PMHNP-BC, CNM. “Oregon’s patients too often cannot afford their medications and are forced to take reduced dosages, cut pills in half or make hard choice between medicine or rent or food.”

Moving forward, we hope that HB 4005 will provide the information necessary to help take meaningful steps in both holding manufacturers and insurers more accountable and better enabling consumers to make more informed decisions regarding the purchase of critical medications.

CCO Reform (HB 4018)

After a robust series of discussions in the Healthcare and Rules committees, House Bill 4018 (HB 4018) passed with near unanimous bipartisan support in both chambers to make coordinated care organizations (CCOs) more transparent and accountable to Oregonians. CCOs provide comprehensive care to Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan and receive payments through the publicly-funded health plans of Medicaid and Medicare. As such, it’s critical that their processes and decision-making be transparent and accountable to the public. HB 4018 ensures that CCO governing meetings are subject to greater public transparency and requires more consumer representation in CCOs’ governing bodies. It also requires a CCO to spend earnings above a specified threshold on services designed to address health disparities and social determinants of health. This means that CCOs will be required to reinvest some of their earnings back into the community to help improve patient health through upstream and preventative measures.

The passage of HB 4018 is an important victory for patients across Oregon and a culmination of years of work to make sure CCOs have a meaningful stake in continuing to improve the health outcomes of the communities they serve.

Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Review Commission (HB 4133)

House Bill 4133 (HB 4133), to establish a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee in the Oregon Health Authority was signed into law after enjoying unanimous support in both the House of Representatives and Senate. The review committee will study the impacts of maternal death and morbidity, particularly around social determinants of health, and make recommendations to address these issues in Oregon. The committee includes both a labor and delivery nurse and a midwife nurse practitioner.

Thank you to ONA member Nancy MacMorris-Adix, RN, MN, CNM for being a vocal advocate in support of this proposal and testifying in front of the legislature to help ensure this bipartisan victory in addressing health concerns for mothers.

Gun Safety (HB 4145)

House Bill 4145 (HB 4145) to close an existing loophole in criminal background checks to purchase a gun, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers and has been signed into law.

Under current law, a married person convicted of domestic violence or stalking would be prohibited from buying a gun, but boyfriends or close family members would not be. Several ONA members, including Rachel Prusak , MSN, APRN, FNP-C, testified on behalf of the bill which will have a measured impact on violence and the public health of our communities.

Mandatory Reporting (SB 1540)

Senate Bill 1540 (SB 1540) sought to change the age requirement for mandatory reporters to report consensual sexual behavior and help preserve patient-provider confidentiality. In current statute, required reporting of any sexual activity – including kissing – could have the effect of deterring teens who engage in consensual sexual activity from pursuing preventative care or treatment of more serious issues regarding sexual health. Other sections of the bill clarify definitions of abuse reporting for adults with mental illness or developmental disabilities and DHS reporting statutes.

Ultimately, this bill passed, however the section regarding mandatory reporting was amended out of the bill. Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) plans to form a workgroup to continue to discuss and address mandatory reporting requirements for health care providers and teachers that ONA will seek to engage in and closely monitor.

Public Health (HB 4003)

House Bill 4003 (HB 4003) sought to address the public health concern of toxic diesel air pollutants. Diesel exhaust creates an enormous public health burden, resulting in costly emergency room visits, lost productivity, chronic disease and premature death. HB 4003 would have set a clear deadline for prohibiting the sale of older diesel engines, outlined when all on-road vehicles need to be powered by cleaner engines, and would have taken steps for high utilizers of diesel engines to create plans and dedicate funding to reduce pollution. After receiving majority support in the House Health Care committee, the bill was referred to the Rules, committee where it was not considered before the session ended.

Paid Family Medical Leave (HB 4160)

The legislature failed to act on House Bill 4160 (HB 4160), the FAMLI Equity Act, to craft and implement a paid family and medical leave policy in Oregon. We’re disappointed about this outcome because it means that too many families will still be forced to make difficult choices to leave the workforce, or otherwise go into debt, spend down their whole savings or retirement accounts to cover unpaid time away from work during critical life events.

However, ONA is committed to continuing this conversation with our elected leaders and help get more candidates elected who will make paid leave a priority for all Oregonians. It’s critical that nurses weigh in on this important issue to continue the conversation about why taking time to care for a newborn or sick loved one is essential to the health outcomes of families. Take action today and email your legislator!

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