“There’s no more money. Don’t ask.”
Sign on the door of Sen. Alan Bates, the co-chair of the Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee.

News of the week: OHA Budget Note on Psychiatric Boarding

Addictions and Mental Health leadership at the OHA will report to Legislature on the crisis

The Oregon Health Authority Budget included instructions to the agency to report to the legislature in February 2016 about the problem of psychiatric boarding for patients with mental illness in hospital emergency departments. The budget note was initiated by the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems as part of the recommendations from their work group on mental health over the interim. OCEP member Sharon Meieran participated in the workgroup, along with OCEP Government Relations Director Katy King. OCEP has reached out to the agency to participate and act as a resource for this work.


Here’s the budget note language from the Legislative Fiscal Office Report:

“Budget Note #6 – Addictions and Mental Health

The Oregon Health Authority will report to the 2016 legislative session regarding the problem of “boarding” of patients with mental illness in hospital emergency departments while patients wait for a bed in an appropriate setting. The report will contain a thorough description of the system and process as it works now and why, including relevant statutes and reimbursements. It will also include data to describe the magnitude of the problem. Finally, the report will contain an analysis of the reasons for the “boarding”, such as gaps in necessary services within the system, and proposals for potential solutions.”

Mental Health funding was a top priority for Senate President Peter Courtney and the AMH budget reflects it. Highlights of the budget include an increase of $22 million in general funds to invest in various services including: including $1.5 million for the Oregon Psychiatric Access  Line for Kids (OPAL-K) $6 million for increased capacity for addictions treatment and recovery including sobering facilities, $7 million for crisis services, including mobile crisis services; $6.5 million for jail diversion; $7 million for supported housing (rental assistance) and peer-delivered services; $4.1 million to fund Aid and Assist restoration services in the community, in order to reduce the number of patients sent to the Oregon State Hospital for that purpose.

Last week, the Division of Medical Assistance Programs budget included a $1 Million appropriation for psychiatric emergency services at the new Unity Behavioral Health Services Center slated to open in 2016. 


The Oregon Health Authority Budget now heads to the full Ways and Means Committee for consideration.


Sine Die Countdown

The 2015 Sine Die tee-shirt went on sale in the Capitol Gift Shop and on Tuesday, legislators, staffers and lobbyists gathered for the biennial sine die party at the Salem Convention Center. Here are links to videos showing legislators reading mean e-mails, dancing staffers (the Oregon Kicker Edition) and a Battle of the Chambers MMXV. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_pnKpGU7gdQhvzj71hGMNA


Key Policy Initiatives this Week

Legislative Leadership wraps up their major policy initiatives in the last weeks of session. Here are some key bills that passed this week and now head to the Governor’s desk for her signature:

Paid Sick Leave

Oregon becomes the fourth state in the nation with a paid sick leave policy. SB 454 allows for up to five days a year of leave to use for personal sick leave or to care for family members. 

Ban the Box

The Senate approved “ban the box” legislation this week on a bipartisan vote of 21-8. House Bill 3025 establishes an unlawful employment practice that bans employers from excluding consideration of a job applicant from an initial interview solely because of a past criminal conviction –as long as the applicant has served all the terms of their conviction. The bill clarifies that it does not prevent an employer from considering an applicant’s criminal history in making their hiring decisions.

Thing to Know: Budget Note

A budget note is an instruction from the Legislature to state agencies to carry out various activities, usually studies, with a requirement to return at a later date with a progress report. While budget notes don’t carry the force of law, they are treated as such by state officials.

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

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