Here’s the big picture: a six-month legislative session marked by intense partisanship, an ambitious Democratic agenda, two walkouts by Republican senators and over 3,000 bills introduced ended June 30. The second walkout was a successful effort to prevent a floor vote on a carbon reduction bill and came in June as the session approached its constitutionally mandated close.
Democratic super majorities in both chambers led to the passage of a business tax increase to fund K-12 education, paid family and medical leave and statewide rent control.
So what about health care?
We know how much you care about access to high quality, affordable health care. We applaud the state lawmakers who also support this. Our Health Oregon worked to rally support for some key bills to make sure Oregon remains a state with one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents in the country. We also worked to rally our citizen advocates to let their representatives know about important health care issues like mental health.
You really stepped up, sending over 9,000 letters to legislators over the course of the session.
Here are some of the legislative successes for health care in 2019:
Overwhelming, bi-partisan early passage of HB 2010, the long-term plan to fully fund Oregon's Medicaid program
Passage of the tobacco tax referral (HB 2270) on the dramatic final day of session
Passage of an OAHHS priority bill, SB 823. The bill codified hospital workplace violence prevention policies and validated the WPV toolkit for statewide use.
Our Health Oregon also advocated strongly for two important behavioral health bills, SB 140 (ED Boarding) and SB 141 (Caring Contacts). While these did not make it through the legislative bottleneck during the final days, both bills garnered substantial bipartisan and bicameral support. We aim to try again as legislators focus on behavioral health in future sessions.
Thank you for being engaged citizens and for fighting for health care in Oregon!