A Healthy Oregon For All

Senate President Rob Wagner

Making Oregon Healthier

Hello Senate District 19 and beyond,

I'm back for my second week of recounting our successes during the 2023 legislative session, and this week the topic is health care. The Oregon Legislature took a holistic approach to improving health care across our state this session, improving access to behavioral heath care, reproductive health care, gender-affirming care and emergency care while ensuring Oregonians maintained quality health insurance.

Maintaining good health is something we all as individuals strive for, and it is imperative the Oregon Legislature and state government continue to put the health and wellness of our people as our top legislative priority.

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Senate President Rob Wagner joined other lawmakers, staff and advocates in celebrating Gov. Tina Kotek signing critical behavioral health care legislation into law.

Governor Tina Kotek held a ceremonial signing for a number of our bills tackling behavioral health care and the fentanyl crisis this week, which I was glad to attend with fellow lawmakers and health care champions including Representative Rob Nosse and Senator Deb Patterson. There is still work to be done, but the bills we passed this session will save lives. As was the case for all of our bills this session, the majority of these bills passed with bipartisan support.

  1. House Bill 2757 provides a stable funding source for Oregon’s two 9-8-8 call centers and helps to build out the mobile crisis response system so that services are uniformly available 24/7 across the state. Oregonians can call this easy-to-remember phone number and receive immediate mental health care through one-on-one conversations. In Oregon, 9-8-8 resolves or de-escalates 97% of calls it receives. Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber continued her leadership on this issue this session and worked hard to get this bill across the finish line.

  2. House Bill 2395 and the Opioid Harm Reduction Package will save more people experiencing opioid overdoses by making overdose reversal medication more accessible. This will reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in Oregon and get more people into treatment. This package was helped by the enormous efforts of Representative Maxine Dexter and Senator Elizabeth Steiner. With this law, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services providers, educators, school administrators and others will be able to store and administer Narcan or Naloxone.

  3. Senate Bill 1089 establishes a Universal Health Plan board to explore options for implementing universal health care in Oregon so we can make sure we have the best system to provide high quality health care access to everyone. The recommendations made by this board will be presented to the legislature in 2026. This bill is the result of hard work by Senator James Manning all session, bringing together numerous stakeholders and legislators. 

  4. Senate Bill 1041 makes medically necessary breast cancer diagnostic imaging tests and supplemental breast exams free to patients by requiring commercial insurance plans to cover those costs. Majority Leader Kate Lieber joined first responder Representative Dacia Grayber in guiding this legislation though.

  5. Senate Bill 192 requires increased reporting on prescription drug pricing so the state can make better informed decisions and continue to work to reduce health care costs that put families at financial risk. Senator Deb Patterson has been an incredible champion for lowering the cost of prescription drugs during her tenure in the legislature. This bill is the next step in that process. It requires pharmacy benefit managers and companies that handle prescription medicines to report the money they receive from drug manufactures. The law also makes improvements to the Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

  6. House Bill 2697 addresses the state's hospital staffing shortages and will help providers deliver high-quality care for their patients. It sets nurse staffing ratios and minimum staffing levels for particular hospital units, and empowers frontline health workers to have a voice in their workplaces. Nearly 70% of Oregon’s nurses say they are experiencing severe burnout, with more than three-quarters reporting that their work lives are dangerously stressful due to unsafe levels of staffing and poor working conditions. This has led to significant turnover in hospitals, further exacerbating staff shortages.

    I have been working to find ways to support safe staffing for our health care workers for years and I'm proud of our health care committee chairs Representative Rob Nosse and Senator Deb Patterson for moving this idea forward.
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Senate President Rob Wagner with Senate President Pro Tempore James Manning Jr.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Starting Monday, working Oregonians who need to take time off work to care for important personal and familial life events can begin applying for paid leave benefits through the state’s new paid family and medical leave program, Paid Leave Oregon. Oregon is the 11th state, plus Washington, D.C., to implement such a program, a major win years in the making.

Paid Leave Oregon covers paid family leave, medical leave, and safe leave for working Oregonians. Employees can apply for the following reasons:

  • To care for themselves or members of their family during the birth of a child, or to bond with a child after birth, adoption, or placement of a child in their home through foster care
  • To care for themselves during a serious health condition
  • To care for a family member when they have a serious health condition
  • If they or their child experience sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking.

The state Legislature created Paid Leave Oregon in 2019. Most workers will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave annually through the program.

Maui Wildfire Recovery Support

Like many of you I've been horrified by the images of devastation coming out of Maui over the past few days. My heart goes out to the people whose lives and families were upended by this wildfire, particularly those who lost loved ones. In Oregon, we know the hardships that come with wildfires all too well and empathize with the loss our fellow Americans are feeling today. 

This disaster must also be a call to action. Wildfires and other natural disasters are happening more frequently and with more ferocity due to our changing climate. I am proud of the work Oregon has done to address climate change and the legislature is focused on finding new solutions so we can continue to do our part in averting climate catastrophe. 

If you want to join me and Laurie in donating to help survivors, here are a few local groups in Hawai'i accepting donations online:

Headlines from your Capitol

Statesman Journal: Paid Leave Oregon: What to know as applications are set to open for the new state program

Applications for Oregon's paid leave program open Monday and the Oregon Employment Department is preparing for thousands of claims from individuals in the first few weeks.

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Oregon secretary of state: Senators who walked out can’t run next year

Republican senators who walked away from this year’s legislative session will be barred from running for reelection next year, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced Tuesday.

The Oregonian: Intel confirms ‘multibillion-dollar’ Oregon expansion plans

Intel acknowledged its plans for a mammoth investment in its Oregon research factories Wednesday, describing “a multibillion-dollar expansion and modernization of our facilities” aimed at restoring the company’s manufacturing lead.

Oregon Capitol Chronicle: Impeachment, elected official pay, ranked-choice voting: Lawmakers left big questions to voters

Oregon lawmakers will ask voters to weigh in on big questions in 2024, including how voting will work, whether lawmakers should be able to impeach top officials and whether elected officials should receive raises. 

If you would like to contact the Senate President's Office, send an email or call and either myself or a staff member will assist you. If you are a constituent coming to Salem and want to arrange a meeting, I'm always happy to meet, so please let us know well in advance as my schedule fills up quickly.

email: Sen.RobWagner@OregonLegislature.gov 
phone: 503-986-1600
address: 900 Court St NE, S-201, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wagner