Legislative Update, week two

This past Wednesday, committees began public hearings on 2017 bills.  On opening day, the House Committee on Health Care discussed the rising profession of “Peer Support Specialist.”  Peer services are gaining traction in Oregon and around the country.  With early successes in the addictions field, health care reformers have recognized the value (in outcomes and cost) of deploying peer specialists who share a common lived experience with people managing chronic conditions.  A friendly, understanding and knowledgeable contact may mean fewer crises or flare ups that can result in expensive in-patient or emergency care.  As the profession develops, more subspecialties are being recongnized, which brings us to HB 2304.

The week in review

On Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority testified in support of HB 2304.  The testimony noted that the Traditional Health Worker Commission was established in 2013 to provide a registry of these workers who could be reimbursed by Medicaid.  At that time, Peer Wellness Specialists were considered the same as Peer Support Specialists. But specialties have developed in the profession, creating the need to name them in statute.  “Peer Support Specialist,” the testimony notes, is considered a payable service provider by Medicaid, the Joint Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

HB 2304 adds Peer Support Specialist to the list of Traditional Health Workers originally named in 2013 legislation.  It also identifies Family Support Specialist and Youth Support Specialist as worker specializations.  It has no effect upon Medicaid costs or OHA policies.

Although these services are reimbursable, some contend that CCOs have not been consistent in providing them.  This has prompted a proposed amendment to HB 2304 that would direct OHA to include in its contracts with CCOs a requirement that CCOs “offer and make available peer support services to every member of the CCO who is receiving behavioral health treatment.”  The amendment, originating from the Oregon Mental Health Consumer Association, embodies the desire to not only have a choice to receive this service but to also have more professional opportunities for peers. DRO testified in support of the bill and the amendment. The bill has not yet been set for a Work Session.

Sometimes legislative hearings take can take unexpected turns when legislators discuss matters that don’t seem to be directly in the bills before them. On Wednesday, four bills about child caring agencies were up in the Senate Committee on Human Services: SB 243, SB 244, SB 245 and SB 636. The bills seem to allow more regulatory flexibility for these agencies but some committee members appeared to question the need or extent of regulation.  The health and safety of children being served received little mention. Testimony from agency representatives did voice concern about over-regulation.  Three of the bills are set for a Work Session on Monday.

Some confusion also accompanied HB 2302, which will allow Oregon State Hospital to apply for public benefits for its residents who are incapable of applying themselves.  An attorney from the Legislative Counsel Office was summoned to the House Committee on Health Care to opine if the bill would override the authority of guardians.  The answer was no, and the bill was voted out of committee and on to the House floor.  DRO submitted testimony in support of this bill.



In the Senate Committee on Human Services, 1:00 pm, Hearing Room D:
Work Sessions
SB 243 Expands definition of “child in care” to include children receiving care and services from certified foster homes and developmental disabilities residential facilities.
SB 244 Establishes notification requirements of DHS regarding reported or suspected deficiencies, violations or failures of child-caring agency to comply with full compliance requirements and regarding reports of suspected child abuse of child in care.
SB 245 Modifies definitions of “child” and “child-caring agency.”
Public Hearings
SB 101 Authorizes child abuse investigation or interview of child who is subject of child abuse report on private as well as public school premises.
SB 105 Requires independent residence facilities for minors to be licensed, certified or authorized by DHS under laws regulating child-caring agencies.


In the Senate Committee on Judiciary, 8:00 am, Hearing Room 343:
SB 82   Sets forth state policy specifying that sanctions and punishment for violation of rules regulating conduct of youth offenders and other persons placed in physical custody of Oregon Youth Authority may not include placing youth offender or others in custody of youth authority alone in locked room.  DRO supports this bill and sat on a workgroup convened by OYA to study the use of isolation in OYA facilities.

In the Joint Ways and Means, Human Services Subcommittee, 8:30 am, Hearing Room F
HB 5026 The first hearing on the Oregon Health Authority budget

In the Senate Committee on Human Services, 1:00 pm, Hearing Room D:
SB 48 Directs OHA and certain professional regulatory boards to adopt rules requiring professionals to complete continuing education related to suicide risk assessment, treatment and management.
SB 239 Establishes a process to determine consent of resident of residential care facility or adult foster home to individually based limitation of certain rights. DRO sat on a workgroup to develop this bill and supports it with amendments.
SB 397 Directs DHS to convene work group to develop common client confidentiality release form to be used by public bodies and community organizations to enable and facilitate appropriate sharing of confidential information.

In the House Committee On Business and Labor, 1:00 pm, Hearing Room E.
HB 2609 A rather long bill that makes changes to the Nonprofit Corporation law. Worth a look by anyone managing or volunteering on the board of a nonprofit.


In the Senate Judiciary Committee, 8:00 am, Hearing Room 343:
Overview of Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB)
SB 63 Removes requirement that the PSRB or OHA notify a court or juvenile department of a hearing concerning the commitment of a person found guilty except for insanity or youth found responsible except for insanity.
SB 66 Requires courts to notify a person found guilty except for insanity of a sex crime of their obligation to report as a sex offender.

More information

HB – House Bill     SB – Senate Bill
Hearing Schedule
Streaming for hearings and events

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