Updated February 7, 2024

Policy and Regulatory Update Call Invite

OPCA’s Policy Team is inviting you to join them as they kick off OPCA’s Policy and Advocacy Update Call where they will provide monthly updates on important policy and regulatory issues that matter to health centers.

Attendees will have direct access to federal and state level policy and regulatory updates from OPCA staff and national experts.

When: Every second Wednesday of the month at 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email (check spam/junk) containing information about adding the calendar invite and joining the meeting

State Update

Lawmakers return to Salem: The state’s 2024 legislative session kicked off this week on Monday with a flurry of activity. 280 bills were introduced with a few higher profile issues floating to the top. Both legislative leadership and the Governor’s office have signaled that there are three main priorities for the 35-day session: Measure 110 reform, housing, and behavioral health.

Of course, these three topics are just the tip of the iceberg of what we will hear about during the five-week legislative session. We will start our bi-weekly Legislative Updates in the coming week, so stay tuned!

Measure 110 reform: There seems to be broad bipartisan consensus that Measure 110 needs work during this session, although differences arise as soon as you dig into the details. The Joint Committee on Addiction & Community Safety Response (JCACSR) was tasked with putting together a framework of policy decisions which were unveiled and covered by OPB last week in House Bill 4002.

Housing: Governor Kotek has made it clear that her top priority this session is housing. She teed up a $600 million housing package to increase housing production and shelter capacity as well as implement strategies to prevent houselessness. In addition, the state housing agency has requested over $24 million for homeless shelter operations, just to break even for 2025.

Behavioral health: The House Committee on Behavioral Health & Health Care is ground zero for all things mental and behavioral health in 2024. In addition to a strong focus on Measure 110 the Committee is considering how to reduce administrative burden on behavioral health providers and increase system efficiencies, increase the state’s behavioral workforce, and evaluate funding for county mental health programs.

Walkout politics: In a unanimous ruling on February 1, the Oregon Supreme Court barred the cohort of state senators who participated in a weeks-long walkout last year from seeking office. At the core of the case was whether the senators can run for reelection this year, or if the ban on reelection in Measure 113 (which passed in 2022) would go into effect the year after their term ended, effectively allowing them to run one more time.

Of the ten affected senators, six are up for reelection this year. Two have already stated they intend not to run again: Sens. Lynn Findley (R-Vale) and Bill Hansell (R-Athena). Now, the other four are blocked from the 2024 ballots, including Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend), Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls), Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), and Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook).

In a press release from the Senate Republican caucus, Sen. Knopp stated, “We obviously disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling. But more importantly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent.”

However, in speaking with the media, Sen. Knopp spoke in somewhat hopeful terms about the legislative session and the ability to work with legislators across the aisle, stating, “We believe that the session will be different than previous sessions and that we’ll have more impact regardless of the decision. […] Obviously we still have the opportunity to pause the session if we need to for any reason.”

Post-Session House Speaker nominations: “House Democrats Choose Julie Fahey as Speaker Nominee, Elect David Gomberg as New Assistant Majority Leader” House Democrat Caucus. More here: OPB

Capitol Hill

Congress Continues its Work: The House and the Senate continued to chip away at their to-do list last week, with the House passing a bipartisan tax reform bill. Unfortunately, a bipartisan deal between senators and the White House looks like it is dead on arrival in the House. Negotiations continue on the annual appropriation bills for Fiscal Year 2024 and the health care bill that includes mandatory funding for health centers. Health Center advocates must continue to ask Congress to prioritize final passage of the maximal possible mandatory and discretionary funding for health centers and primary care workforce programs before the March 8th deadline. 

Senate Bipartisan 340B Workgroup Releases 340B Draft Legislation and RFI: Senators Thune, Capito, Stabenow, Baldwin, Moran and Cardin, also known as the “Gang of 6” released a discussion draft of the Supporting Underserved and Strengthening Transparency, Accountability, and Integrity Now and for the Future of 340B Act or “SUSTAIN 340B Act.” Additionally, the Senators released an  explanatory document, which includes a request for information to support the development of legislation. The working group requested feedback by Wednesday, April 1st, 2024, to Bipartisan340BRFI@email.senate.gov. OPCA is encouraged by Congress’ progress to address the existing challenges in the 340B Program. For questions, please reach out to Marty Carty, mcarty@orpca.org