It’s a new year and a new legislative session has begun in Oregon! As usual, PANOW will be tracking a number of bills that may have material impacts on the communities we serve and the work we do to increase access to health care and health-related resources in our state. Oregon’s legislature trades off what are referred to as “long sessions” and “short sessions” every year: short sessions are in even years, and long sessions are in odd years. 2024 is a short session, beginning on February 5th and ending on March 10th. Some of the legislation we’ll be tracking this session includes:
HB 4130: Safeguarding Patient Interests and Physician Independence
Introduced by Representative Ben Bowman (D-Tigard), this bill seeks to tighten restrictions on corporate influence in medicine in Oregon. Currently, medical practices in Oregon (and most states in the country) must be owned and operated by licensed physicians. However, there is a loophole that allows corporations to own and operate medical practices if they form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This bill would close that loophole and require that most “directors, officers, and shareholders” of medical practices be licensed physicians, even in LLC or LLP scenarios, as well as require that physicians maintain control over patient care in their practices, even if they use a management services organization for administrative work like billing. “We do not want a health care system where corporate profit motives are deciding what patient care looks like,” said Rep Bowman in a Lund Report interview.
HB 4091: Health Insurance Mandate Review Advisory Committee
This legislation (introduced by Representative Hai Pham, D-Hillsboro) would establish a committee to review proposed legislative measures that would require a health plan to cover and pay for a specific health service. The legislature has been asked to review this type of bill more than 20 times since 2021 and have often complained they don’t have the adequate data to make an informed decision on these requests. The committee, which would be made up of a variety of stakeholders including health insurance interests, health equity advocates, and rural health experts, would report its findings to the legislature. The committee would meet between sessions of the Legislative Assembly and would be required to produce a report by January 15th of the year the bill would be introduced in the legislature.
This legislation would impose a number of regulations on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) with the intention of protecting retail pharmacies, which are closing at alarming rates. PBMs would be required to get a state license to operate in Oregon, and would be restricted from using retaliatory practices against pharmacies who complain to the state about them. It would mandate reporting requirements for PBMs, and change the way that PBMs can audit pharmacies.
HB4010: Ban Contract Pharmacy Restrictions for 340B Program
The 340B Program (Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act) requires drug manufacturers who participate in Medicaid to provide discounted prices to health care entities, including Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), who provide services to uninsured and low-income patients. These “covered entities” are allowed to contract with pharmacies to provide their prescription services, as many clinics and organizations don’t have the capacity themselves to do so. Starting in 2020, many drug manufacturers began severely restricting which pharmacies covered entities could contract with, which creates access issues for patients, especially those in rural areas who may not have an abundance of nearby pharmacies. One of the provisions of HB 4010 would ban these restrictions on contracted pharmacies for “covered entities” like FQHCs under the 340B program.
Funding for Universal Health Care Governance Board
PANOW is also tracking a number of topics that have not been provided a bill number yet. We are especially interested in efforts to provide additional funding for the Universal Health Care Governance Board. Legislation was passed during the 2023 long session to establish this board, but there are concerns that the Board will need more funding to be successful. This Board is a critical next step towards universal coverage in Oregon and needs to be properly funded to ensure its success.
In addition to these top priorities, we’ll also be tracking some other legislation that may be of interest: