Oregon Health Insurance Legislation Updates from Salem

Health Exchange Bill Clears House With time running out, the Oregon House passed SB 99, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange legislation endorsed by Governor Kitzhaber and supported by the business community.   The legislation cleared the House on Tuesday by a vote of 48-12, including all 30 House Democrats and 18 Republicans. The Exchange will create a government sponsored (and subsidized) marketplace for health insurance plans which will provide coverage to virtually all Oregon residents.  Under federal law, each state must establish a health insurance exchange by 2014 or the federal government will establish one for them using its own standards.  The bill had previously cleared the Senate and now goes to the Governor for his signature. Committee Holds Informational Meeting on Health Insurance for Small Business The Senate General Government Committee held an informational hearing last Wednesday on health insurance issues for small business.  The hearing arose out of a conversation by Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland), Committee Chair, and members of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) regarding participation of small business in the health insurance rate review process.  During that conversation, small business advocates agreed that, while participation in rate review was important, there were other ways to help small business reduce health care costs. NFIB’s “Small Business Principles for Healthcare Reform”, was submitted to the Committee during testimony by Jan Meekcoms, Oregon State Director, NIFB.  The document stresses affordable, market-driven access to health care plans.  During testimony, Ms. Meekcoms stated that Oregon’s current health care system is “complex, unsustainable, somewhat broken and bears heavily upon the small business segment of our state and nation.”  The Committee took no action but indicated the subject would continue to be a priority in coming sessions.  Click here to listen to testimony presented at the informational hearing.  

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