“The one word is yahoo.”
Dr. Robert Wergin, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, reacting to the news that Congress has repealed the Medicare SGR ‘doc fix’.

News of the week: 

The Doc Fix: The bipartisan bill which passed on Wednesday, reforms the physician payment system for Medicare. The bill heads off a looming 21 percent slash in Medicare reimbursements which would occur without a bill or a fix. The temporary ‘doc fix’ has been employed 17 times since 2003. President Obama signed the bill Thursday. 



The big bills in Salem this week:

Medical malpractice liability. SB 409, which repeals the $500,000 limit on noneconomic damages recoverable in wrongful death and other courses of action, was scheduled for a work session on Wednesday, April 15 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The work session was carried over to Monday, April 20 — most likely because the votes aren’t there (at the current time) for the amendments.

Gun control. SB 941, requiring background checks for guns, has passed the Senate on a 17-13 vote. http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2015/04/gun_background_check_bill_pass.html. The controversial bill was previously voted down on the Senate floor in 2013 and 2014. It now heads to the House where it’s expected to pass. This is the first gun control bill to pass in Oregon in this century.

Immunizations policy. SB 895, which requires schools to post immunizations rates, had a work session on Thursday. Sen. Steiner Hayward, the chief sponsor of the bill, said that -5 amendments will retain the educational module option for parents who wish to be exempt from the immunization requirements for school-entry. New data from the Oregon Health Authority shows that SB 132, which requires parents to either get a signature from their health care provider or watch and educational video online, is working. Exemption rates have fallen 20 percent since the new policy was implemented. Amendment language was not ready at the time of the hearing and the bill will be carried over until Friday, April 17. 

Bills of interest

Tobacco prevention bills are getting play. SB 663, which would license the sale of tobacco products by the OLCC had a hearing on April 13 and work session scheduled for April 20. SB 732, which would raise the age for tobacco use to 21 was hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 15. HB 2546A, a bill to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of children, is up for a work session on April 20.



April 21 – Tuesday is the deadline for Committees to hold Work Sessions on First Chamber Measures 

This is the last day for policy committees to move measures introduced in their chamber (i.e. Senate bills in the Senate, House bills in the House) out of committee. The deadline does not apply to Ways & Means, Revenue, Rules, and other joint committees.


OCEP Bill Hearings

SB 132, Violence against health care workers, is up for a work session in Senate Judiciary on 4/17. OCEP has testified in support. New amendments favored by the chair, will reduce the fiscal impact by may also result in a mandatory 30-day jail sentence on the first offense. Amendments aren’t available at this time and the hearing may be carried over to Monday or Tuesday of next week.

SB 874, a bill which among other things, would have originally required emergency rooms to have protocols for the treatment of adrenal insufficiency is scheduled for a work session on April 20. Katy King testified on behalf of OCEP at the original hearing. Joining the opposition: the Oregon Chapter of the National Association of EMS Physicians, the Fire Chief’s Association, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems and the Oregon Nurses Association. Chair Laurie Monnes Anderson asked OCEP and the Hospital Association to develop amendments and to convene stakeholders. The proposed amendments are a ‘gut n’ stuff’ of the original bill and will require the OHA to develop educational materials online and make them available to professional associations for distribution.

HB 3502, the mental health care improvement bill developed by the OAHHS workgroup, which included OCEP, has been pulled at the request of the OAHHS. Instead, a workgroup will be formed over the interim to address larger mental health system reform. 

SB 459 and HB 3402, speed increase bills were scheduled for hearings and work session on April 15. OCEP testified in opposition to SB 459 on April 15 and HB 3402 on April 3. These bills may be used as bargaining chips in order to garner Republican support for the transportation package. OCEP was quoted in the front page article in the Statesman Journal about these bills. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2015/04/15/lawmakers-puttering-bill-increase-speed-limit/25854675/

SB 891, which requires health care facilities to post prices, is up for a work session April 20. OCEP testified at the hearing on March 25, raising concerns about EMTALA violations. Proposed amendments will address this issue and limit the parameters of the bill to acute care facilities.

SB 495 eliminates the exception to safety belt laws that allows person not to use a safety belt if all seating positions in the vehicle are occupied. The public hearing and work session is scheduled for Monday. OCEP will testify in support.

Thing to Know: Courtesy hearings 

Committee chairs often hold ‘courtesy hearings’ at the request of a fellow legislator or an interest group. These bills are scheduled for a public hearing only, but not a possible work session. The intent is to give the policy issue air time in committee and to determine if action should be taken in a future session. Insiders still pay attention to these bills — ‘courtesy’’ hearings have been known to lead to ‘courtesy’ work sessions, ’courtesy’ votes on the floors of the House and Senate and ‘courtesy’ laws.

For more information about the legislative process, please contact Katy King.

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