“Work, work, work…”

Rep. Rachel Prusak, chair of the House Health Care Committee, describes on Twitter how a bill becomes law. There are 150 bills pending in her committee.

The Big Deal this week: Telemedicine Pay Parity

Rep. Rachel Prusak is the chief sponsor of HB 2508, which requires pay parity for telehealth visits on par with an in-person visit. The bill had its first hearing in House Health Care on Feb. 4. Rep. Prusak and Sen. Lee Beyer led the panel of proponents, lauding telehealth as “the silver lining of the pandemic.” Prusak noted that amendments are in the works to address value-based payments, scope for out-of-state providers and avoidance of “doc-in-a-box” entities. A providerm coalition, convened by OMA, testified support of this policy which has been a lifeline to patients
and providers during the pandemic, helping to expand access to care and keep clinics financially viable. Providence, Pacific Source and Moda, while noting the value of telehealth, opposed the bill.

Providence raised concerns about a significant financial burden on patients through fee-for-
service visit model, lower standard of care and patient privacy. PacificSource prefers a value-
based payments approach towards telemedicine. Moda noted that they are voluntarily complying with pay parity to promote access during the pandemic. While they are supportive of
behavioral health telehealth, they oppose the bill. Their goal is to use the efficiencies from telehealth to find savings to the total cost-of-care.

The governor’s office negotiated a voluntary agreement with insurers to extend pay parity and
expanded telehealth coverage through June 30, 2021, in part to address pandemic concerns and to allow time to negotiate a bill. The bill will be carried over so that more of the provider community can testify. The Senate Health Care Committee will take up the issue of pay parity
on Wednesday, February 10.

Spotlight Issues: Collaboration with Physician Assistants

The Oregon Society of PA’s put forward HB 3036, which would eliminate the requirement for physician supervision and instead establish a “collaborative agreement.” The intent was to remove some of the current statutory and regulatory burdens experienced by PAs and promote
team-based care. The OMA has been negotiating the bill on behalf of the House of Medicine
and is seeking more definition as to what this relationship would entail. They are also advocating for removal of the provision which would allow PAs to enter into “collaborative agreements” with other PAs. The Oregon Trial Lawyers opposed the bill over concerns about liability — removing the liability from physicians and their standard of care to a PA standard of care. The Oregon Family Physicians Association raised the issue of supervision requirements for PAs just out of school and/or switching their scope of practice. The first public hearing was February 4.

Upcoming hearings and work sessions

  • Tuesday, Feb 9
    • Jt Ways and Means Committee on Human Services
    • HB 5024 OHA Budget (Includes provision for Public Health modernization.)
  • Wednesday, Feb 10
    • Senate Health Care
    • SB 11 Reimburses telemedicine services at 80 percent of the in-person rate for physical health services and 90 percent for behavioral health services.
    • SB 423 Allows Oregon patients to receive health care services from specified out-of-state health care providers.
    • SB 697 Requires pay parity for telemedicine services by any contracted health profession under specific circumstances.
    • HB 2826, Funding for Child Advocacy Centers
  • Thursday, Feb 11
    • House Health Care
    • HB 3108 Requires insurance reimbursement of at least three primary care visits annually, including the behavioral health home.
    • HB 2081 Health Care Cost Growth Target Program and Implementation

News Buzz
OPB: Oregon State lawmaker likely created a hostile workplace at state Capitol.
Portland Tribune: Suburban, Bend legislative districts will shrink in redrawing maps.

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