December 11, 2018: Oregon Legislators Detail Their Health Agenda for Upcoming Session

Five Oregon lawmakers, Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson and Reps. Mitch Greenlick, Cedric Hayden, Rob Nosse and Alissa Keny-Guyer, discussed bills addressing everything from mental health to drug costs to oral health education that they plan to submit in the session which starts in January.

By Jessica Floum

A six-month legislative session kicks off in January, and policymakers plan to introduce robust health care legislation. Their agenda includes bills to help pay for the $950 million hole in the state’s Medicaid budget, improve mental health care and oral health care integration, and bring down drug prices.

Five Oregon legislators detailed their health agenda for the 2019 legislative session at a breakfast forum on Tuesday sponsored by the Oregon Health Forum, which is affiliated with The Lund Report. Questions from the audience on fluoridation and vaccination also prompted firm responses from legislators on two of the state’s most controversial issues.

The first to speak, Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, highlighted the need to support Gov. Kate Brown’s sustainable funding package for the Oregon Health Plan that provides health coverage to one in four Oregonians. Brown’s proposed 2019 budget raises taxes on hospitals from 5.3 percent to 6 percent to raise $98 million. It reinstates the 2 percent tax on insurance and managed care to raise $410 million. It taxes employers who don’t meet the threshold care contributions to raise $119.5 million.

Brown also proposed a $2 per pack cigarette tax to raise $95 million in the first year.

Monnes Anderson called on health officials at the forum to support the cigarette tax, which she said will likely get sent to voters for approval.

“I want all of you to get behind this,” Monnes Anderson said. “If we have to have a campaign, get involved.”