Policy Update

    Last Update:    July 6, 2022


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State Government 

June Legislative Days Wrap-up

Last month, we had our first set of Legislative Days since the 2022 Legislative Session ended. As expected, there were minimal fireworks to be seen throughout the committee hearings, executive appointments, or Emergency Board proceedings.

One common thread that lawmakers heard throughout the three-day stretch were pleas and explanations from agency heads about staffing issues. From the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), to the Oregon State Police, agencies described a level of understaffing that seems to be disrupting the implementation of new programs and other activities.

As an example, ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht and OHA Director Pat Allen explained that the agencies need roughly 2,000 additional staff to go over rosters of Oregon Health Plan members once the federal public health emergency ends, to determine which members are still eligible (during the pandemic, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services paused the practice of this determination). With work on the next two-year budget well underway, these concerns are certainly at the forefront of the governor's budget advisors and the Ways & Means co-chairs.

The next legislative activity will be the revenue forecast and economic outlook in late August, and a series of Legislative Days during the week of September 19.

Legislative committee leadership and membership changes 

Late last week, House Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) issued an updated committee membership list. With roughly one-third of the House roster retiring or running for other offices, it makes sense to begin developing chair leadership now as legislative ideas for 2023 are beginning to get fleshed out. In most cases where a chair is being replaced, Speaker Rayfield chose to have the former chair remain on the committee, providing continuity throughout the leadership transition.

Below are some noteworthy changes, and you can check the full list of changes here.

  • Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland) will chair the Health Care Committee and step down from his co-chair position on the Human Services Subcommittee of Ways & Means (he will also continue to chair Behavioral Health)
  • Rep. Andrea Valderrama (D-Portland) take up Rep. Nosse's former co-chair position on Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee
  • Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) will chair Economic Development and Small Business, and no longer serve as chair on the Judiciary Committee
  • Rep. Jason Kropf (D-Bend) will now chair the Judiciary Committee
  • Rep. Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) will now be the chair of the Rules Committee, and no longer serve as the Housing Committee chair
  • Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland) will step in as chair of the Housing Committee, and will also remain chair of the Special Committee on COVID-19 Response
  • Rep. Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland) will take up the chair gavel for the Human Services Committee, as Rep. Anna Williams (D-Portland) is not seeking reelection

Federal Update 

Capitol Hill 

FY23 Health Center Funding Voted out of the House Appropriations Committee: On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the House Appropriations Committee released its draft text of the FY23 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill, including the list of individual earmarks, known as community project funding. On Wednesday June 29, 2022, the Committee released the report language of the bill.  The legislation includes:

  • Community Health Program: $1.946 billion, an increase of $198 million above the FY 2022 enacted level
  • Workforce: $1.543 billion for the Bureau of Health Workforce, an increase of $248 million above the FY22 enacted level
  • 340B Program: $13.24 million for the Office of Pharmacy Affairs, $2 million above the FY22 enacted level

Historic gun safety legislation now law: On Saturday, June 25, 2022, President Biden signed a bipartisan compromise gun-safety bill led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX). This piece of legislation, the first to come out of Congress after 28 years of no action on gun control reform, was supported by both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Beyond the gun violence prevention measures, the proposal includes new funding for certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs) and school-based mental health resources and requires HHS guidance on improving access to telehealth and school-based services under Medicaid and CHIP. 

Health center mobile unit legislation passes Senate committee: The Senate committee responsible for health center funding and policies – Health, Education and Labor, and Pensions (HELP) – approved the MOBILE Health Care Act, 958 sponsored by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Susan Collins (R-ME). NACHC endorsed the MOBILE Health Care Act because it would expand New Access Points (NAP) funding and allow health centers to pay for mobile units. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration. The legislation may also be included in an upcoming hearing in the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin advance BBB discussions: Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) continues to negotiate with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on a slimmed-down Build Back Better package and are still debating tax increases and energy provisions; however, they are close to an agreement on lowering the cost of prescription drugs. The top line number being discussed has decreased to around $1 trillion from the original House passed version of the BBB, which totaled $2.2 trillion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY) has repeatedly pressed for the reconciliation package to include extending ACA premium subsides that are set to expire at the end of 2022. The current reconciliation deadline expires September 30, 2022, and Democrats are now hoping to pass this legislation before the August recess. 

 

Advocacy Corner

Bridge Plan Task Force Preliminary Program Design Recommendations Release

OPCA would like to recognize and thank five members of the Bridge Plan Task Force who are staff at FQHCs for the work they have done to elevate the needs of health centers and their patients throughout the Task Force process. These individuals were chosen for their unique expertise in diverse health care settings, with an emphasis on health equity. This 21-member group was tasked with a once-in-a-decade opportunity to develop a Basic Health Plan for those who will no longer be eligible for the Oregon Health Plan after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends. Data show that as many as 41,000 of the 45,000-65,000 individuals who may be covered by the Basic Health Plan are and will continue to be served by Oregon’s 34 FQHCs and FQHC look-a-likes. As a result, it is imperative that Community Health Centers receive cost-based reimbursement for the services they provide. After months of advocacy, we are proud to say that this need was enshrined as a formal recommendation of the Task Force in their recent Preliminary Program Design Recommendations (see page eight). This is the first of two reports that the Task Force will produce; the second will be published and submitted to the legislature in early December. We applaud the hard work of the five members, listed below, who have tirelessly highlighted the value of health centers throughout the state and the need for adequate reimbursement to ensure that the FQHC model of wraparound care is maintained.

Thank you to:

Adrienne Daniels, Interim Director of Integrated Clinical Services, Multnomah County Health Department 

Dr. Antonio Germann, M.D., Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic

Jonathan Frochtzwajg, Public Policy and Grants Manager, Cascade AIDS Project

Sharmaine Johnson Yarbrough, Enrollment and Engagement Specialist, Wallace Medical Concern

Stefanny Caballero, Executive Director, Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation


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