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How to Participate

Policies on Written Testimony, Verbal Testimony and Guidelines for Commenters and Presenters 
Having you involved with us is an important part of health coverage decisions for the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) and its subcommittees, advisory panels, task forces and work groups. 

These are the steps of how you can participate with us. At each meeting, HERC and its committees read written comments and listen to verbal comments as described below. This page contains information to help you understand our process so you can participate effectively.

For up-to-date information about all our meetings and topics under consideration, visit our Meetings and Materials page and our What We’re Working on page.

​One way HERC learns about a need for change to the Prioritized List–which outlines covered services for the Oregon Health Plan–begins with a question from someone who wants a change to the Prioritized List or thinks a new medical service should be considered.

People email HERC.Info@OHA.Oregon.gov to propose changes
Staff does a review of the medical evidence and presents an issue summary to the Value-based Benefits Subcommittee (VbBS).

Issue summaries usually include:
  • A review of medical studies/evidence,
  • An overview of other insurance companies' policies, and
  • A staff proposal for what VbBS should do next.
Based on the staff proposal, VbBS may:
  • Recommend changes to the Prioritized List,
  • Ask for more research, or
  • Decide not to change coverage.
HERC reviews and considers approval of the changes VbBS recommends. Usually, VbBS and HERC meetings occur on the same day, and VbBS's work is reviewed by the HERC later the same day. While most topics are decided by VbBS and HERC, some topics follow a more in-depth evidence-based report process. These reports are called a coverage guidance or multisector intervention report and are reviewed by the Evidence-based Guidelines Subcommittee (EbGS).

Evidence-based reports and coverage guidances


For topics using the evidence-based report process, we prefer to receive written comments during the formal comment period (see below). Once EbGS completes its draft report, the report goes to VbBS and HERC for approval and may result in changes to the Prioritized List.​

Please note: All meetings are currently held online due to COVID-19. When it is safe to do so, HERC will resume meeting in person. This section describes how to offer verbal testimony at those future in-person sessions. Information on how to give verbal testimony in an online meeting is in the next section.

At a meeting, public comment is usually taken:

  • During time indicated for that topic on the agenda and
  • After the group's discussion but
  • Before a vote happens

Most often, the chair allows up to three minutes per speaker; speakers are invited to testify in the order they signed up. Sometimes, when time is limited, the chair may limit testimony (see “When time is limited" below).

Registration and providing testimony in-person

For in-person meetings, we encourage you to:

  • Register online or call 503-580-9792 by noon Pacific Time, two business days prior to the meeting. 
  • Whether or not you pre-register, please sign in when you arrive so that we can allocate time for testimony.

To ensure commissioners can receive your full testimony, we encourage you to submit written testimony in addition to signing up to provide verbal testimony. (All written testimony will be posted publicly.)

Written testimony must be received by noon Pacific time two business days prior to a scheduled meeting. See the Written Testimony policy below for full details.

Here are some other things you may wish to think about:

  • Slides, presentations or other materials you want presented with your testimony must be provided to staff 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting by emailing herc.info@oha.oregon.gov.

  • After your testimony ends, please remain available to the Commission for questions or responses from members. Time spent answering member questions does not count against your testimony time.

  • If you wish, you may wish to bring 15 paper copies of your written testimony for members and staff to review along with your verbal testimony. 
    • ​HERC staff reserve the right to not present or distribute materials that the HERC director deems inappropriate, or which do not relate to a matter within HERC's role.​

Verbal testimony for a topic that is not on the agenda:

You can testify for a limited time on topics not on the agenda. This testimony will usually take place during the last part of the meeting. Sometimes a meeting ends before the scheduled time, so we would encourage you to arrive 30 minutes before the end of the meeting. Based on your testimony, the Commission may decide to take up the topic for review at a future meeting.

When testimony time is limited:

For some topics, the chair will need to balance the need for staff's presentation of information and members' deliberation time with the need to hear public testimony. For instance, if many people sign up to testify for a topic, the chair may decide to limit testimony to as little as one minute per person, and/or limit total testimony to as little as five minutes per agenda topic (or five minutes combined for all topics which do not appear on the posted agenda). If the number of people who wish to testify on a given topic is greater than the available time for testimony, people who signed up will be invited to testify in the order in which they registered, until the available time expires.

In rare cases, the Commission or a subcommittee may announce a meeting which does not include public testimony time. For example, this may occur when a lot of public testimony has already been heard at a dedicated meeting on that topic or when there are pressing agenda items must be decided on at that meeting.​

At a meeting, public comment usually is taken during the topic presentation and after the group's discussion but before a vote happens. Most often, the chair allows up to three minutes per speaker; speakers are invited to testify in the order they signed up. Sometimes, when time is limited, the chair may limit testimony (see "When time is limited" below).

Testimony by phone or video:

In order to comment verbally on your topic of interest by phone or video, you must:

  • Complete the sign-up survey at  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/herc-public-comment by noon, two business days before the scheduled meeting (for example by 12:00PM Tuesday, if the meeting is on a Thursday).
    • ​If you wish to testify but did not register by the deadline, you may attend the meeting in person and sign up to provide verbal testimony with staff (see "Verbal Testimony - In Person" for details).

  • Be logged in or call in to the ZoomGov online meeting at least 30 minutes prior to the time indicated for that topic on the published agenda.
    • If commenting on a topic not on the agenda, be logged into the ZoomGov meeting at least one hour prior to the scheduled end of the meeting.

  • Use the name or phone number you provided when you registered when attending the ZoomGov meeting so that staff can identify you.

  • Remain logged in the meeting ready to testify until the time for testimony for that topic is complete (which may be later than shown on the agenda).

  • Unmute yourself promptly when requested by the meeting host (dial *6 from a standard telephone).

  • Remain available to the Commission for questions or responses members. Time spent answering member questions does not count against your testimony time.​

You​ may join the meeting by clicking the ZoomGov meeting link from a computer or smart phone or dial the number provided from any touchtone telephone. Please see our meetings and materials page for specific topics to be discussed each meeting.

Slides, presentations or other materials to be presented with your testimony must be provided to staff 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting by emailing herc.info@oha.oregon.gov. HERC staff reserve the right to not present or distribute materials that the HERC director deems inappropriate or which do not relate to a matter within the HERC's role.​​

Verbal testimony for a topic that is not on the agenda:

You can testify for a limited time on topics not on the agenda. This testimony will usually take place during the last part of the meeting. Sometimes a meeting ends before the scheduled time, so we would encourage you to arrive 60 minutes before the end of the meeting. Based on your testimony, the Commission may decide to take up the topic for review at a future meeting.

When testimony time is limited:

For some topics, the chair will need to balance the need for presentation of information and deliberation by members with the need to hear public testimony. For instance, if many people sign up to testify for a topic, the chair may elect to limit testimony to as little as one minute per person, and/or limit total testimony to as little as five minutes per agenda topic (or five minutes combined for all topics which do not appear on the posted agenda). If the number of people who wish to testify on a given topic exceeds the available time for testimony, members of the public will be invited to testify in the order in which they registered, until the available time expires.

In rare cases, the Commission or a subcommittee may announce a meeting which does not include public testimony time. For example, this may occur when extensive public testimony has already been heard at a dedicated meeting on that topic or when there are pressing agenda items that are time sensitive.

  • You can submit written comment (up to 1,000 words) per agenda topic per meeting by email to herc.info@oha.oregon.gov by noon Pacific Time, two business days before the scheduled meeting (for example: the Tuesday prior to a Thursday meeting).

  • Testimony will be given to the commissioners or committee members. Staff and members may or may not choose to discuss the comment at the public meeting.

  • Testimony sent to the Commission's physical office will not be accepted.

  • For items not on the agenda, written comment will be limited to a total of 1,000 words per meeting date (in addition to any comment provided on one or more agenda items).

  • Citations do not count towards the 1,000-word limit.

  • Any journal articles or other supporting materials must be attached in PDF (preferred) or Microsoft Word formats
    • These supporting materials will not be provided to commissioners but will be reviewed by staff.

  • Comments about an evidence-based report (coverage guidance or multisector interventions report) submitted during a formal comment period will be evaluated and addressed in a formal process described in the section below.

  • If comments exceed the 1,000-word limit they will be shortened to meet the word limit.

  • Comments that are sent as a link to an external document or as an email attachment not in PDF or Microsoft Word format cannot be accepted unless they are resubmitted in a correct format prior to the deadline. (For example, no .zip or Pages files.)

  • Comments submitted after the deadline (noon two business days prior to the meeting in question) will not be accepted, but you may resubmit them prior to the next meeting.

  • Comments submitted will be posted publicly and given to members according to this policy and are subject to Oregon public records law. We recommend careful consideration when disclosing health information about you or another person that would be identifiable. If you wish the information to remain more private, you can ask that it not be posted publicly, but it still might end up being released due to public records law.
    • If a public records request is made, your complete comment will be released including your name and any health information provided. Only contact information would be withheld.​

Comments during formal comment periods

When EbGS produces in-depth reports such as coverage guidances,  these reports are posted online for members of the public to review and comment on. New reports and the dates of their public comment periods are announced publicly on our e-Subscribe service. We strongly suggest that comments be submitted during the formal written public comment periods. Please submit comments to herc.info@oha.oregon.gov during the formal written public comment period to ensure that your comment, and any evidence, will be formally reviewed and receive a written response.

For more information, see our Open for Comment page and our overview of the Coverage Guidance development process. Late comments will not be included in the formal public comment disposition but will be accepted as written testimony (see the "Written Testimony" section above). Evidence submitted with these comments will be reviewed per the Consideration of Evidence Discovered After Formal Comment Period policy.

Comments outside formal comment periods

You can submit comments according to the “Written Testimony" or “Verbal Testimony" sections above. Decisions on whether and how to include evidence mentioned in these comments will be made based on the policy for Consideration of Evidence Discovered After Formal Comment Period​​.

Note: HERC's Evidence-based Guidelines Subcommittee (EbGS) does not accept unsolicited requests for topics.

If you have an idea for a topic for discussion at HERC and VbBS but are unsure how to present it, please let us know. according to the following guidelines. We would be glad to work with you to plan your request and provide limited feedback to help ensure a productive discussion.

  • A request to present information, including any scientific information or evidence to be presented, must be received by HERC staff at least six weeks in advance of the VbBS/HERC meeting at which it is to be presented. Information must be emailed to herc.info@oha.oregon.gov.
  • This timeframe allows staff to review the submitted material in with the Commission/Subcommittee Chair, to decide if it meets the standard for review and ensure the agenda item will be listed according to the Commission's 28-day advance public notice policy.

  • ​Any materials sent to the Commission's physical office will not be accepted. The Commission does not accept faxes.
  • If, in the HERC Medical Director's judgment, a topic does not meet the standard for a formal 10-minute presentation, you may offer written or verbal public comment (for up to three minutes), as described above in the section “Verbal testimony for a topic that is not on the agenda." The Commission could then decide to take up the topic for further discussion at a future meeting.

  • ​For approved topics, a maximum of 10 minutes of agenda time will be allowed for a presentation. The chair may allow additional time for members to discuss the presentation and speak with you.
​HERC strives to utilize the best available evidence in decision-making. We encourage you to include the strongest evidence related to the topic you present. Review the HERC's Quality of Evidence Statement to better understand the Commission's standards for evaluating evidence.

For people who speak a language other than English or people with disabilities we can provide free help.  Some examples are: spoken language interpreters, sign language interpreters, CART captioning, braille, large print, transcripts, virtual platform change. 

If you need help with these services or other related services please contact Daphne Peck, 503-580-9792 (voice), herc.info@oha.oregon.gov​ at least 48 business hours before the meeting. 

All relay calls are accepted. To best ensure our ability to provide an accommodation please contact us even if you are only considering attending the meeting. The earlier you make a request the more likely we can meet the need.