Legislative update: The bills that could change your practice

Portrait of Michael S. Becker

Michael S. Becker
Director, regional advocacy and government affairs

May 7, 2013

Oregon lawmakers are halfway through a legislative session thick with bills – more than 370 to date – affecting health care providers. Some of these bills may never make it to the governor’s desk, but others stand a good chance of passing.

The session’s top priority is to cover the state’s Medicaid budget shortfall. Legislators have worked with hospital leaders, including Providence’s Greg Van Pelt, to propose a package to bridge that gap. It includes extending the hospital provider tax for another two years and tapping other revenue sources. Details of that budget package are still being decided.

Below are some other health care bills making their way through the Legislature. Click on the link for a summary of each bill.

Grant more authority to advanced practice nurses
One bill would remove restrictions on the authority of a nurse practitioner or certified clinical nurse specialist to dispense prescription drugs. Another would permit certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to write prescriptions.

Create a single-source credentialing database
Heavily debated in session work groups, this bill directs the Oregon Health Authority to establish a single electronic provider database to be used by all credentialing organizations. If the bill passes, providers would submit credentialing information to this single entity rather than to multiple organizations. It would take effect in 2016. Another bill seeks to lessen the burden of credentialing and privileging for telemedicine providers.

Create a statewide stroke care committee
Under the direction of the Oregon Health Authority, the panel would collect and analyze stroke data to improve prevention, treatment and outcomes.

Require patient notification of breast density
Facilities performing mammograms would have to advise patients with high breast density of their increased risk for breast cancer. They also must encourage these patients to ask their providers about further testing. A related insurance mandate for additional screenings was removed from the bill.

Allow substitution of biosimilar products
Providers may prescribe biosimilar agents in place of biologic medicines if they’re FDA-approved and with certain other restrictions.

Fund innovative, nonmedical health services
Dubbed the “air conditioner bill,” this creates a method to pay coordinated care organizations for flexible services not covered by Medicaid.

Other proposed legislation includes:

A medical liability bill, which formalizes the mediation process for adverse events, already has passed. The new law is not the major liability reform some had hoped for, but it is a step in the right direction.

We will share more details on these bills as they make their way through the Legislature.