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Press Release: May 23, 2011

Governor Kitzhaber Signs Bills that Move His Health Care Agenda Forward

Streamlined administration of health plans and year-round health-insurance enrollment for children signed into law


(SALEM, Ore.) — As part of his efforts to transform Oregon's health care system, Governor John Kitzhaber signed two bills relating to how health insurance companies do business in our state: Senate Bill 514, which allows children to have health care without waiting periods to obtain insurance, and Senate Bill 94, which helps lower the cost of health care by reducing unnecessary administrative costs for health care providers.
 
"Giving all children access to health care and lowering costs for health care providers are important steps forward," Governor Kitzhaber said. "I urge the Legislature to move forward on the Health Insurance Exchange and Health Care Transformation bills to provide better care, improve health, and lower costs for all Oregonians."
 
Senate Bill 514 paves the way for all Oregon children to have access to health insurance year-round – not just during "open enrollment" periods in February and August. As federal law changed to require that all children – including those with pre-existing condition – have coverage, insurers worried that families would wait until children became sick to buy insurance, which would raise insurance costs for everyone. One way to minimize the additional risk was to limit enrollment to twice a year, but that left children without full access to coverage.
 
The Oregon Insurance Division, working with insurance companies and the state's high-risk pool, created a program under SB 514 that distributes the cost of children’s health care coverage evenly among insurers. This ensures no single insurance company will pay a disproportionate share of medical bills when covering children with significant pre-existing conditions.
 
Now, all children under 19 will have access to health care coverage year-round.
 
SB 94 addresses a key concern of health care providers: They are doing more and more insurance paperwork, which lessens the time they can spend with patients. One problem is that there can be as many different types of forms as there are health insurance plans, which contributes to the nearly 40 percent of waste that eats at the available dollars in the health care system. 
 
The legislation grants authority to the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to require uniform financial and administrative standards for all insurers and plan administrators, public and private, that pay for health care in Oregon. Under one standard, health care providers will no longer have to learn a myriad of codes and formats in order to file a health care claim.

Media Contacts:
Christine Miles, 503-559-8795
Amy Wojcicki, 503-689-5324

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