Oregon lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have highlighted areas of health care they intend to focus on, including behavioral health and workforce shortages, during Oregon State Reform Health Policy Conference 2022.

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Senator Kate Lieber, Representatives Rachel Brusack and Maxine Dexter represented the Democratic Party at the convention, while Representatives Raquel Moore-Green and Kristen Goodwin represented the Republican Party.

Moore Greene said the most important piece of legislation she worked on during the last session was Senate Bill 1529Which Individual and group health insurance plans require that you reimburse providers for at least 3 annual primary care visits, and 1 annual preventive initial visit. Appointments can be with your primary care provider or behavioral health care provider.

The bill also removes multiple engagements for same-day or same-facility behavioral health services as primary care services, along with pre-licensing requirements for specialized behavioral health services.

“Part of removing the stigma about mental health is becoming like going to the dentist [or] “The eye doctor,” Moore Green said. “Our brain is an organ. We don’t treat it the same way we treat our heart. If someone has a heart condition, we want to go in and fix it. People are very resistant to talking about the brain and what’s on our mind sometimes. And I think removing that is important. Really because I don’t think there’s a single person here who hasn’t experienced at least one day of depression in their life.”

Moore Greene said she is working on a bill calling for the creation of the Senate Behavioral Health Committee.

Prusak discuss traffic Bill House 4003 during the last session. The bill supports Nurses It aims to fill an ongoing shortage of nursing staff in the state. Expanded programs that support the mental health of nurses.

“We know a lot of people have left the workforce,” Prusak said. “What can we do to support the workforce? One of the big answers that came out of the bill was that we don’t support our nurses with accessible behavioral health. We have the Wellness Program in Oregon It is offered to nurse practitioners and doctors, but not nurses. So we were able to tell the Board of Nursing to free up funds to set up a program so that all nurses could urgently access telehealth within 72 hours for behavioral health support. This is being circulated in all hospitals.”

Lieber noted that the Oregon healthcare sector scored a big win with CMS’ recent approval of Renewed Medicaid 1115 Demonstration Waiver for State Over the next five years, the effort was led by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The exemption expanded health coverage for young children and extended eligibility for young adults and adults. It will also provide $1.1 billion in federal funds to address food and housing shortages and other root issues that lead to ill health.

“People are falling out of loopholes in the health care system,” Lieber said. “How can you support where people fall? One of the things we don’t have through conceding is keeping people alive [insurance] When they get out of prison or from a government hospital.”

Dexter said continuity of care is not available in the state.

“When a person interferes in a situation related to justice [or] Coming out of the foster care system, when we have people in the state hospital, those are big gaps and these are the most vulnerable members of our community,” Dexter said. “So what we have now is this opportunity to bridge that gap. People who get out of these situations will get housing for up to six months, paid for by the government. I don’t know if any healthcare organization has billed Medicaid for housing before. I certainly don’t think any housing provider has billed Medicaid for housing.”

Goodwin said she’s concerned about putting more responsibilities on the OHA board, though.

“I worry about moving more decisions in the direction of [OHA]Goodwin said. “They are really, to me, like this huge cargo ship just loaded with cargo. And they can barely move. And we keep adding to them. And I wonder at what point it is sinking. This is a system that obviously has to be evaluated, and I really want to help OHA. We want these to be served.” services effectively to our citizens. So I look at that carefully.”

Goodwin said it will be important for Democrats and Republicans to work together to address health sector challenges.

“Our Republican vision, we really see the need for balance in government,” Goodwin said. The last time there was real equilibrium in the legislature was 10 years ago. The parties should come together and take the best ideas from both parties. Oftentimes, we have a common goal.”

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