While the Northwest Kidney Council was active on several bills in Washington this year, we also engaged on a handful of important issues in Oregon. The state’s Legislature is constitutionally mandated to adjourn by June 25, and it’s looking like legislators are right on track to get bills passed on time.
For more than six weeks, the outcome of the session was uncertain. Republican legislators had left Salem to protest Democratic priority bills around abortion access, gender-affirming care, and gun control. However, a compromise was reached, and Republicans returned to Salem to provide a quorum earlier this month.
Fortunately, the bills that we supported this year were bipartisan and did not have much trouble moving through the legislative process. Here’s where they stand as the Legislature wraps up its work for the year.
Addressing the Nursing Shortage
SB 227 passed both chambers without a hitch. This is a bipartisan bill that would allow limited licensure to nurses and nurse assistants from other jurisdictions during emergencies declared by the governor. By expanding the pool of qualified nurses who can provide care in Oregon, SB 227 will help improve the health outcomes of patients with kidney disease.
Read our testimony here.
Streamlining the Hemodialysis Technician Credentialing Process
The Northwest Kidney Council also led a coalition of organizations in support of SB 965, specifically the sections relating to hemodialysis technicians. These providers are critical parts of the dialysis care team, and SB 965 will improve the certification process which will in turn strengthen the workforce and improve patient outcomes throughout the state.
The provisions of SB 965 that we support are the product of collaborative work done with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). In 2022, OHA convened a Rule Advisory Committee in which members of the dialysis community participated and provided input on ways to strengthen the hemodialysis certification process. We are grateful to OHA for their work in this area.
Thank you to our partners at DaVita, Fresenius, and the National Kidney Foundation for joining us in support. You can read our testimony here.
Coverage for Continuous Glucose Monitoring
The Northwest Kidney Council joined our partners at the American Diabetes Association to support HB 3380, which directs the Oregon Health Authority to cover continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products for anyone who use insulin in the Oregon Health Plan. As diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease, it’s important that patients have the tools they need to manage their conditions.
Oregon should not continue to be one of only a handful of states that limit CGM coverage for Oregonians who use insulin. Importantly, this legislation also allows patients to access CGM through their pharmacy, which expands the accessibility of this tool and thus improves patient outcomes.
Unfortunately, as we write this blog, this bill is still in the Joint Ways & Means Committee. We will update this post if the bill passes. Read our testimony here.
Studying Hospital Discharge Challenges
The Northwest Kidney Council did not take an official position on HB 3396, however, it’s important to note that the Legislature voted to create a formal task force that will study challenges related to hospital discharges. Importantly, representatives from outpatient dialysis facilities will be included on the task force. This is critical to ensuring that the concerns of the dialysis community are heard and acted upon.
We’ll be monitoring the task force throughout the interim. You can read more about the bill here.
Thank you to all the sponsors and supporters of our priority issues in Salem this year. We look forward to continuing to partner with elected officials at all levels of government to make progress for the kidney community.