News from Salem

The OMA’s 2009 Legislative Session Update

March 16, 2009

  • The State’s Budget Is Balanced for Now
  • Stimulating Oregon Health Care with Federal Dollars
  • Spotlight Bill: SB 355 – Prescription Database
  • Follow the OMA’s Bill Tracking Efforts with Bill TrackOR

The State’s Budget Is Balanced for Now

The Oregon Legislature has passed a series of bills that balance the state budget for the current biennium. These three bills cut spending and divert revenues to the state’s General Fund to address the projected $855 million deficit for the remainder of the 2007-2009 budget cycle ending in June.

House Bill 5015, which cuts $4.3 million from the legislature’s operating budget passed both chambers unanimously. Senate Bills 581 and 5552 passed the Senate (21-8) and the House of Representatives (37-22), favored mostly by Democrats. SB 581 diverts funds to the General Fund from other areas such as education, public safety, human services and environmental programs. SB 5552 reduces funding from the General Fund to many government agencies and programs.

Health care in the state will not be hit as hard as some other sectors. Nonetheless, money will be diverted from public health programs, including $447,430 from the Community Mental Health Housing Fund and about $1.1 million from DHS funds dedicated to public health. OHSU and the OregonCenter for Nursing will also receive less General Fund money for the remainder of the biennium.

Lawmakers were forced to make some tough choices in deciding where to cut funding, and though some important programs will receive less money, legislators were able to avoid deeper across-the-board budget cuts that were proposed in November. All told, about $310 million was cut from state agencies’ budgets. The remaining shortfall was filled by approximately $405 million from the federal stimulus package and $140 million pooled together from various state agencies.

Now the Legislature faces an even bigger challenge: balancing the budget for the next two years. It is projected that the 2009-2011 budget will need at least an additional $3 billion to provide the current level of services.

Stimulating Oregon Health Care with Federal Dollars

A new report by Governor Kulongoski’s office takes a closer look at how much federal stimulus money will come to Oregon and how it will be spent. Over the next three years, Oregon will receive about $2.4 billion of the $787 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, approximately $1.4 billion of which will be available to General Fund-supported programs. A good deal of these funds is dedicated to health care and human services.

The Oregon Department of Human Services will receive about $807 million for increased Medicaid funding, retroactive from October 1, 2008 through the end of 2010. Oregon’s high unemployment rate has meant additional increases for the state. Of the $807 million, the Family Health Insurance Assistance Program will receive $4 million. This allows 3,000 additional Oregonians to remain in the program in the current budget cycle and preserves funding for 1,200 enrollees per month in the coming biennium. DHS will also receive $1.1 million for nutrition services over the next three years.

ARRA funding will also assist many unemployed Oregonians pay their health insurance premiums either through COBRA or the state health insurance continuation program. Employers that offer health insurance will receive tax credits in return for covering approximately 65% of former employees’ premiums for a six to nine month period.

For the full report of the federal stimulus package’s impact on Oregon, see

Spotlight Bill: SB 355 – Prescription Database

Senate Bill 355 would establish a statewide electronic prescription database to track the prescription of certain drugs. The intent of the program is to identify and inhibit recreational prescription drug use while promoting appropriate use for legitimate medical purposes. Upon dispensing controlled substances with a documented potential for abuse, pharmacies would be required to report the names of the patient and prescribing practitioner and identify the drug and quantity dispensed. An annual fee up to $25 may be imposed on practitioners authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled substances in order to fund the program.

The bill raises some concerns for the OMA, such as matters of privacy and funding, and we have been participating in a work group on SB 355 to address those issues. The OMA has also proposed amending the bill to ensure that the monitoring and regulation of physicians remains solely a function of the Oregon Medical Board and is not extended to any other regulatory board, including the State Board of Pharmacy, who is charged with establishing and maintaining the database. This amendment has been adopted by the work group and will be written into the bill. OMA will also be included in the Prescription Monitoring Program Advisory Commission if the bill passes.

Follow the OMA’s Bill Tracking Efforts with Bill TrackOR

Remember, you can sign on to Bill TrackOR any time to see all the bills that the OMA’s Government Affairs team is tracking this legislative session. These are all bills that will affect the practice of medicine in Oregon. We have a dedicated team in Salem working with lawmakers and policy experts on your behalf. Log in to to see:

Bill summaries

Complete bill texts

OMA positions and priority levels

Public hearing schedules

Up-to-date information about actions taken in the state House and Senate

Testimony or materials associated with a bill.

To log in to Bill TrackOR use the following:

Username: OMA

Password: legislature