Revenue Forecast, Health Care Bills


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4
900 Court St. NE, S-417, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
e-Bulletin                     November 2016

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Dear friends,

    As we enter this Thanksgiving weekend, I hope you, your family and friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Please drive safely this busy traveling and shopping weekend. Remember to check ODOT's for road conditions and traffic information. Winter conditions exist across the state.

    The next set of "legislative days" for the 2016 interim will be December 12-14. Committees will hold informational hearings and begin to discuss and introduce legislative bill drafts for the 2017 session. You can review committee agendas (once posted) and watch live hearings using the Legislature's online information system.

    Below you will find information on:

        - Latest Revenue Forecast
- 2016 Session: Health Care & Human Services
        - Tips to Keep Chickens in a "Laying Mood"

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

Latest Revenue Forecast

   On Wednesday, November 16, the Office of Economic Analysis released its quarterly revenue forecast. Oregon's economic growth remains solid, with more than 55,000 jobs added since October 2015. Projected revenues for the 2015-17 biennium remain stable, while the employment rate continues to increase.

    According to the report, approximately 4,600 jobs have been added to Oregon's economy each month on average during the past year. With the addition of these jobs, our economy will continue to enjoy a more stable growth rate as it closes in on full employment levels. As stable growth continues, we expect to see continued increases in median household income and declining poverty levels.

    Oregon household incomes are rising, with the strongest increases occurring in the bottom of the income distribution. The state's effective reserves stand at nearly $950 million for the current biennium. In the event that we are confronted by another recession, these funds help ensure that Oregon can continue to make the crucial investments in education, public safety, and small business that are essential to our quality of life. To review the forecast in its entirety, click here.

2016 Legislation: Health Care & Human Services

    Continuing with this e-bulletin, I'm providing in-depth summaries of bills passed during the 2016 session by subject area. A comprehensive listing of accomplishments from the 2016 session related to health care and human services — by Senate/House bill and in numerical order — follows:

Senate Bills

    SB 1503 - Access to Affordable Primary and Mental Health Care: Oregon's nurse practitioners and physician assistants fill critical roles in our state's delivery of primary care and mental health services, especially in rural Oregon. In 2013, the Legislature enacted a law to ensure that these providers are reimbursed at the same rate as physicians for providing the same services. SB 1503 ensures that these essential providers can continue to deliver quality, cost-effective care in underserved areas by making this law permanent.

    SB 1504 - Increasing Public Access to Physical Therapy Services: This legislation adopts an interstate Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, which will reduce barriers for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants looking to practice in states that adopt the compact. Oregon is the first state to adopt this compact, which is intended to increase public access to physical therapy services, to enhance the exchange of licensure, investigatory and disciplinary information between compact states, and to streamline licensing processes for qualified practitioners.

    SB 1514 - Improving Oregon's Charitable Prescription Drug Program: This legislation is a simple fix to make a beneficial program even better at providing much needed prescription medications to vulnerable populations. Oregon's Charitable Prescription Drug Program currently serves many low-income and uninsured residents across the state. SB 1514 will provide an additional pathway for donated prescription drugs to be made available to participating programs, while maintaining important quality safeguards — a move that will improve the reach and positive impact of the program statewide.

    SB 1515 - Children's Safety and Dignity Act of 2016: This legislation takes steps to improve the safety of kids in state-licensed residential foster care. SB 1515 makes statutory changes to improve the accountability of the Department of Human Services and licensed child-caring agencies. The bill sets forth clear criteria and standards for licensed providers and specifies actions DHS can and must take if a program is not in compliance. It also expands the definition of a child to include those who are 18 to 20 years old — who are often included among youth in care — and specifies that a failure to investigate or take other action when concerns arise may constitute official misconduct. SB 1515 backs these commitments with an allocation of nearly $900,000 for the 2015-17 biennium to support new licensing, investigatory and enforcement staff within DHS and the Department of Justice.

    SB 1558 - Protecting Student Confidentiality: This legislation limits when and how a college or university can disclose student health and mental health records. The bill will help ensure that when a college student accesses health care or counseling on their campus, they can do so with confidence that their records and information will be protected. Though this safeguard is critical to any student, it is particularly meaningful for students experiencing violence, abuse or trauma, who depend on trusted campus services to protect their privacy.

House Bills

    HB 4016 - Supportive Services for Impaired Health Professionals: Oregon's Health Professionals' Services Program (HPSP) provides a supportive alternative to formal discipline for licensed health professionals who have had significant workplace impairment related to behavioral health or substance use issues. Currently, the state Boards of Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Medical Board participate in the HPSP, and the Oregon Health Authority provides administration and contracting services. HB 4016 transfers administrative functions from OHA to the boards, which is estimated to save more than $300,000 annually in costs to the state.  

    HB 4017 - A Basic Health Program for Oregon: This legislation continues the work Oregon has undertaken over the past several years to explore the possibility of operating a "Basic Health Program," an option under the Affordable Care Act to provide health coverage to certain consumers who don't qualify for Medicaid, but don't quite make enough for commercial plans to be affordable. In 2015, the Legislature passed a bill to convene a workgroup to make recommendations to the Legislature on how a BHP should operate in Oregon. HB 4017 directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services to develop a "blueprint" for BHP and apply for a state innovation waiver — the next formal step in advancing a proposal — and allocates $415,000 to DCBS to pay for the planning and actuarial work.

    HB 4022 - Addressing the Shortage of Speech-Language Pathology Services
in Oregon's Schools: In response to a shortage of providers, in 2007 the Legislature passed a bill to allow retired public employees to work an unlimited number of hours as a speech-language pathologist or SLP assistant for a school district without any loss of retirement benefits. That exemption expired on January 2, 2016. HB 4022 reinstates the exemption, allowing it to continue until 2026 to address the long-term shortage of SLP services in Oregon's public schools, particularly in rural areas.

    HB 4030 - Emergency Medical Services Funding: This legislation requires the Oregon Health Authority to form a workgroup of Emergency Medical Services stakeholders to develop recommendations for OHA to better reimburse providers of EMS and transportation. Currently, the reimbursement rate for the care and transport of Medicaid patients is far below the cost of providing EMS and the demand for these services continues to grow, especially in rural Oregon. HB 4030 will help close the gap between inadequate current rates and the actual cost of service to EMS providers.

    HB 4042 - "General Assistance" Program for Vulnerable Individuals: In 2005, Oregon discontinued funding for a state program called "general assistance," which provided flexible benefits — such as cash assistance, Oregon Health Plan Plus eligibility and case management — to some of Oregon's most vulnerable individuals who were applying for federal disability benefits. This legislation creates a limited general assistance pilot project, capped at 200 participants per month, for individuals who are homeless, enrolled in a medical assistance program and have a disability that likely would qualify them for federal Social Security Insurance or Social Security and Disability Insurance benefits. Participants will receive a payment of $695 per month — which would be recovered if and when the participant received SSI or SSDI benefits — to be used for housing assistance, utilities, personal incidentals and to access help with applying for federal benefits.

    HB 4071 - COFA Premium Assistance Program: Currently, Micronesians, Palauans and the Marshallese are legally permitted to reside and work in the United States in exchange for the ongoing military use of these territories, including nuclear testing. This relationship began in the 1940s after World War II and is known as the "Compact of Free Association." Despite legal residency status in the United States, COFA Pacific Islanders are barred from federal public benefit services, including Medicaid, even if they otherwise qualify based on income. This legislation establishes and funds a financial assistance program to help pay for premium costs and out-of-pocket expenses for low-income COFA Pacific Islanders who would otherwise qualify for Medicaid. With this new program, it is estimated that 1,500 COFA Pacific Islanders will no longer be uninsured or struggle to afford and maintain health care coverage.

    HB 4080 - Child Foster Care Advisory Commission: This legislation establishes the Child Foster Care Advisory Commission to advise, study and report to the Governor and the Department of Human Services on Oregon's foster care system, and to recommend legislation. The Commission will include foster parents and children, advocates, juvenile dependency attorneys and other stakeholders who work on foster care issues.

    HB 4105 - Patient Safety: Informing Patients About Biosimilar Substitutes: Biosimilars are FDA-approved treatments that are sometimes substituted for biological products used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, psoriasis, and various forms of cancer. This legislation requires pharmacists to notify a patient's physician  when a biosimilar is dispensed, through simple means, such as notation in an electronic medical record, or by phone or e-mail. This communication between prescriber and pharmacist will help protect patient safety, without discouraging the use of biosimilars, which are often less expensive to patients and insurers than brand biologics.

    HB 4107 - Supporting Oregon's Coordinated Care Organizations: This legislation prohibits the Oregon Health Authority from retroactively changing the terms of a contract with a coordinated care organization, unless certain conditions are met. HB 4107 will help improve business certainty for Oregon's 16 CCOs that provide care coordination for nearly all of the more than 1 million Oregonians enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan.  

    HB 4124 - Tackling Oregon's Opioid Crisis: Promoting Smart Prescribing and
Preventing Overdose: This legislation streamlines practitioner access to Oregon's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program by allowing for integration into existing health information technology systems — an improvement that will assist health care providers in identifying possible warning signs of opioid addiction. HB 4124 also expands prescribing and dispensing of Naloxone, a life-saving prescription medication that reverses heroin and prescription opioid overdoses.

    HB 4141 - Continuity of Care for OHP Enrollees: This legislation allows the Oregon Health Authority to change the geographic area served by a coordinated care organization, when that CCO discontinues service and another CCO in the area is unable to cover the population of enrollees. HB 4141 will help ensure that consumers enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan are not left without options for care in the event that their CCO ceases to continue operating.

Tips to Keep Chickens in a "Laying Mood"
(Courtesy of the OSU Extension Service)

    Care for chickens correctly and they'll reward you with cartons full of fresh eggs. Get it wrong and the eggs stop coming.

    The good news is that getting it right isn't difficult, according to Jim Hermes, a poultry specialist for the Oregon State University Extension Service. Give them appropriate feed, water and shelter from the worst weather of winter and you’ve covered the bases.

    Make bagged feed from feed stores the food of choice. It’s formulated for each stage of life baby, adolescent and adults with the correct nutrient requirements. Starter feeds are for chicks from hatching to about six weeks old; grower and developer mixes go to chickens from 6 to 17 weeks; and layer or breeder feed is made for those producing eggs.

    If you can't keep your variously aged chickens separated, there are feed mixes labeled "general purpose" that are appropriate for all ages. For laying hens, though, you'll need to add calcium in the form of oyster shell or egg production drops.

    The biggest mistake chicken owners make is to supplement too much. Don't consider leftovers from the kitchen or vegetable garden an important part of their diet. They'll eat those treats first and not as much as the chicken feed, which dilutes the amount of nutrients in their diet. When that happens, chickens are more susceptible to disease and will produce fewer eggs.

    Scratch a mixture of grains, usually wheat and corn is an acceptable supplement as long as it's not overused. A little tossed on the ground encourages chickens to scratch, which gives them exercise. In the process, they'll find nutrient-filled insects.

    Chickens will eat little pebbles called grit if they need them to grind up wheat, corn or insects. It's available at feed stores, but often they'll find what they need on the ground. Unlike people, layer chickens don't overeat, so feed should be left out continuously.

    As winter approaches, be sure to have a place for your chickens to get out of bad weather. Though they have excellent down jackets, chickens suffer if their combs or feet get too cold. The tips of combs can freeze if temperatures dip to 10 degrees or lower. If they do, there's the chance of gangrene, which causes damage, pain and fewer eggs.

    Be sure to keep water available. If it freezes, put out fresh water or break the ice. There are water pan heaters available or you can even put a light bulb in a coffee can and place the dish on top.

    There's no need for heat lamps to warm adult chickens, but to keep hens laying you'll need to supply artificial light from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The light needs to be just bright enough to read a newspaper; the type of bulb doesn’t matter. Once started, the light program must be continued. Even a one-day lapse can cut down or eliminate egg production.

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