July 8, 2011 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

Legislative wrap-up

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." ~Michelangelo

Over the past several months I have written a great deal about the legislation that created an Oregon Health Insurance Exchange (SB 99) and health system transformation (HB 3650). These two bills alone laid the foundation to remake our state's health and health care system. To learn more about them, go to www.health.oregon.gov.

But those two bills weren't the only changes made during the 2011 session that contribute to better health for Oregon. Here is a quick summary of other important legislation.

House Bill 3100 creates standardized mental health evaluations for people who have been accused of crimes and creates a certification program for the mental health professionals who conduct those evaluations. In addition, the law removes people who have been found guilty except for insanity (GEI) of certain nonviolent crimes from the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board and makes other important changes.

Senate Bill 420 places people found GEI of non-Measure 11 crimes under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Health Authority rather than PSRB, during the time they are committed to the state hospital. The law gives OHA the responsibility for determining when these patients are ready to leave the state hospital. Once they do leave the hospital, PSRB will be responsible for their supervision in the community.

Senate Bill 94 brings an important weapon to the ongoing battle against red tape and unnecessary costs. This legislation allows the Department of Consumer and Business Services to create one standard for insurance forms. Today up to 10 percent of hospital revenue and up to 15 percent of physician revenue goes to the administrative costs associated with the use of multiple insurance forms. With SB 94, we will reduce the wasted time and wasted resources that could be going to patient care.

Senate Bill 514 ensures year-round access to health care coverage for all of Oregon's children by eliminating the "open enrollment" periods for kids. Once the bill goes into effect in August, no child's health care will be delayed because it's the wrong month on the calendar to apply.

Senate Bill 879 creates a student passport. Today as health care students move through the clinical training that give them real-life skills, they often are subjected to background checks for each placement. That can be a half-dozen or so per year, which is expensive and cumbersome. This bill convenes a work group to develop standards for a single administrative requirement that can act as a "passport" for these placements to ease the burden.

House Bill 2104 improves both public safety and public health. Research shows 91 percent of DUII offenders who complete treatment stay arrest-free up to five years later. But until HB 2104, funds were not available for treatment and for safety devices such as ignition interlocks. This bill restores funding for such services for low-income people by increasing the fees other DUII offenders pay. This reduces repeat offenses and keeps everyone safer.

In the years to come I believe we will look back on the 2011 legislative session as one that made a real difference in the lives of Oregonians. Thank you to each and every one of you who helped move this legislation forward.

OHA on the web