A critical part of PANOW’s strategic plan is to enact long-term systemic change at the local, state, and federal level to materially improve the well-being of Oregonians, in addition to the direct service work we do every day to provide access to services to folks immediately in need.
As Oregon’s state legislature is currently in session, we’ve been focusing on the following bills recently:
SB 241: This legislation would require any state or local agency providing assistance or benefits to an individual in Oregon to “fully inform” and apply for any federal programs or services available before serving that individual. This would create an undue burden on agencies providing assistance and inevitably create delays in benefit issuance. PANOW does not support imposing additional barriers on individuals already navigating a challenging assistance landscape. Find our testimony in opposition to the Senate Human Services Committee here (submitted in conjunction with 21 other like-minded organizations). This bill is said to be dead in the Human Services Committee and will not move forward.
SB 606 (Non-profit Modernization Act): In addition to being an organization providing services to Oregonians in need, PANOW is also a nonprofit organization with a staff of over 30 incredible employees! SB 606 would establish a “Nonprofit Workforce Retention Fund” and would provide much-needed grants to nonprofits for the purpose of increasing compensation and reducing staff turnover. Find PANOW’s written testimony in support to the Senate Committee on Human Services regarding SB 606 here. This bill passed in the Human Services Committee and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
SB 704/SB 1089 (Universal Health Plan Governance Board): This bill would establish a Universal Health Plan Governance Board, which would create a comprehensive plan for implementing a Universal Health Plan in Oregon beginning in 2027. As a community organization attempting to fill the gaps in our current healthcare system, PANOW believes that establishing this Board represents the next critical step towards much-needed universal coverage in Oregon. Find PANOW’s written testimony in support to the Senate Committee on Health Care regarding this legislation here. This legislation passed the Health Care Committee and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
SB 972 (State-based Marketplace): Oregon currently operates on a “hybrid” insurance marketplace system that utilizes that federal HealthCare.gov site to allow residents to purchase insurance plans. This legislation would implement a transition from the federal platform to a fully state-based marketplace by 2026. This would create much-needed flexibility that would allow Oregon to make innovative changes in its health insurance landscape, such as create a Basic Health Plan or a Universal Health Plan, and will allow the state to improve affordability and streamline enrollment. Find PANOW’s written testimony in support to the Senate Committee on Health Care here. This bill passed the Health Care Committee and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
HB 3303 (Community Information Exchange Governance Board): As an organization that has built, maintained, and participated in small-scale community information exchanges, PANOW is very invested in a successful Community Information Exchange being implemented in Oregon. This legislation would establish a Community Information Exchange Governance Board that would guide the state in developing a platform to allow social service organizations, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders to efficiently, securely, and equitably share client information when needed and make referrals effectively to other organizations. Find PANOW’s testimony in support to the House Committee on Early Childhood and Human Services (given verbally on 3/13/23) here. This bill passed Early Childhood and Human Services Committee and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
HB 3422 (Joint Task Force on Affordable Coverage):Last year, the Bridge Plan Taskforce created a plan for a Basic Health Plan in Oregon that would be implemented as the federal Public Health Emergency ends and individuals that were eligible for OHP during the pandemic lose their eligibility. The Basic Health Plan allowed eligibility for individuals up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, but left individuals above 200% with nothing. HB 3422 would establish the Joint Task Force on Affordable Coverage and would charge the Task Force with creating an expanded bridge program that would provide affordable coverage to individuals with incomes above 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. As PANOW’s Premium Assistance Program would be one of the primary resources for individuals over 200% losing their coverage at the end of the PHE without an expanded bridge program, PANOW strongly supports this legislation. Find the one-pager for this legislation that PANOW signed on to with many other like-minded organizations here. This bill did not make it for the first session deadline and is therefore dead in the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care.
We will continue to provide updates on our advocacy work and encourage you to reach out with any questions or opportunities.