On March 27th the Senate Committee on Heath Care met and took SB 734 into a work session where they adopted our proposed amendment that clarifies language citing specific licensing statutes regarding referenced provider types and updated the language to unambiguously apply to all private insurance plans. The committee then took a vote to pass the bill unanimously with a "do pass" recommendation. Two committee members were excused but were also bill sponsors and 2 more votes in favor had they been present to cast them.
The bill moves next to the Joint Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Human Services co-chaired by the same Senator Beyer and Representative Nosse, a bill sponsor. This committee membership also has Representative Salinas and Schouten who are also bill sponsors. That leaves four committee members as of yet uncommitted, but likely to be favorable to our effort.
We are sent to Ways and Means because the state self-funds the Public Employees Benefit Board (PEBB) and Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB) health plans administered by Kaiser, Providence, Moda and something called "All Care Health Plan." The fiscal impact statement for these two agencies seems to be exaggerated to ~$8 million every 2 years to pay NDs the difference. This number does not fit with what we learned from our APAC query data and what is publicly reported from APAC data for PEBB and OEBB. About 4x too much. Senator Beyer's chief of staff is going to start the process of getting them to come up with real numbers for an accurate estimate.
Our next hearing before this committee is most likely in May. We have solid reasons to be hopeful. But best not underestimate the insurers apparent animus to us and this bill. The prediction is there will be at least one more trick coming out of their collective sleeve before this is done. Before the hearing we are making plans to meet with each of the committee members to discuss the need for our bill.