Last week, legislative leaders announced a budget deal had been reached and session would be coming to a close. Legislation, that had been stalled, has begun to move. SB 501, the Insurance Industry Accountability Act, is one such fortunate bill. On Tuesday, the House passed SB 501B with a vote of 57 to 1. The Senate concurred with the amendments and re-passed the bill Thursday with a vote of 17 to 10.
In addition to increased public information about health insurance companies, the amended version of SB 501 includes a requirement that periodic colorectal examinations be covered under health insurance policies. The next step for this bill is Governor Kulongoski's desk.
Another bill to move is SB 782 which passed the House unanimously, it eliminates the $6 monthly premium for Oregon Health Plan clients with incomes below 10% of the federal poverty line -- $77 a month for individuals and $112 for couples. SB 782 also relaxes the rules for premium payments for recipients with incomes up to the federal level.
The bill means it will take longer for DHS to reach its target for reducing membership in the OHP-Standard plan. The agency says it can afford to sustain 23,900 people on the plan. Currently about 25,700 people are enrolled. Eliminating premiums will lower revenues. As a result, the plan can afford to insure fewer people. But at the same time, the bill will allow more people to stay enrolled.
SB 1, the Mental Health Parity Act, passed from committee unanimously last week and will be on the House floor this week. The bill, requiring health insurers to cover mental health in the same way they treat physical conditions, is also supported by the governor.
The budget agreement announced by leadership continues to leave many behind. It proposes elimination of vision coverage for adults on the Oregon Health Plan-Plus and does not open enrollment for OHP-Standard. HB 2048 to restore the tobacco tax would help.
SB 1040 to increase health care cost transparency and SB 329 to expand the Prescription Drug Purchasing Pool, which have both passed the Senate, remain stalled in the House. Send a message of support for SB 1040 at: