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Opportunities for Public Input

Policies on Written Testimony, Verbal Testimony and Guidelines for Commenters & Presenters 

Public engagement is a core part of making informed decisions about health coverage for the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) and its subcommittees, advisory panels, task forces and work groups. This page provides an overview of how members of the public can engage with these policy bodies. At each meeting, the HERC and its subcommittees consider written and verbal comments as described below.

Process Overview

HERC's typical process for considering changes to the Prioritized List begins with an inquiry by someone who believes a change to the Prioritized List is necessary or a new medical code requires consideration. Staff then conducts an internal review of the evidence around the health service or health condition in question and presents an issue summary to the Value-based Benefits Subcommittee (VbBS). Issue summaries include an evidence review, an overview of other payers' policies and a recommended decision. Based on the staff recommendation, VbBS may then recommend revisions to the Prioritized List, request further research, or decline to change coverage. HERC then reviews and considers approval of VbBS recommendations. Usually, VbBS and HERC meetings occur on the same day, and recommendations made by the VbBS are reviewed by the HERC later the same day.

While most topics are considered by VbBS and HERC, some topics follow a more in-depth evidence-based report process, resulting in a coverage guidance or multisector intervention report reviewed by the Evidence based Guidelines Subcommittee (EbGS). For topics using the evidence-based report process, written comments during the formal comment period (described separately below) are preferred. Once EbGS completes its draft report, it is referred to VbBS and HERC for consideration of changes to the Prioritized List.

 


Currently due to COVID-19, all meetings are virtual.​

Generally, public comment is taken after discussion by the subcommittee or Commission but before a vote occurs. Most often, the chair will allow up to three minutes per speaker, and speakers will be invited to testify in the order in which they registered. Occasionally, 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 are able to receive your full testimony, commenters are encouraged to submit written testimony in addition to signing up to provide verbal testimony. 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. If you choose to bring printed materials to the meeting, please bring 15 paper copies for distribution.

​After you have completed your testimony, you are encouraged to remain available to the Commission in the event there are questions or responses from HERC members. Time spent answering member questions does not count against the time allotted for your testimony.

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@dhsoha.state.or.us​. 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 purview. 

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

Members of the public can testify for a limited time on topics not on the agenda. This testimony will generally occur during the last portion of the meeting. Based on the testimony, the Commission may request staff to take up the topic for review at a future meeting once staff has prepared the necessary research and policy analysis.​

Coordinated group verbal testimony:

A person who is present to testify at a meeting may cede their testimony time to another person, but in no event will any one person be allowed to testify for more than 10 minutes. In order to coordinate group testimony, all members of the public must:

  • Be logged in or physically present at the meeting at the time of the topic's discussion, and
  • When beginning your testimony, state your name and announce your intention to cede your time to a named individual, and
  • Notify staff of your request to coordinate group testimony by emailing HERC.Info@dhsoha.state.or.us 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting in order that staff may coordinate testimony​

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.​

Generally, public comment is taken after discussion by the subcommittee or Commission but before a vote occurs. Most often, the chair will allow up to three minutes per speaker, and speakers will be invited to testify in the order in which they registered. Occasionally, when time is limited, the chair may limit testimony (see "When time is limited" below).

Providing testimony by phone/video conferencing:

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 two business days before the scheduled meeting by noon (e.g. by 12:00PM Tuesday if the meeting is on a Thursday). If you wish to testify but have not registered by the deadline, you may physically attend the meeting and sign up to provide verbal testimony with staff (see "Verbal Testimony - In Person" for further details).
  • ​Be logged in or call in to the ZoomGov virtual meeting 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 and/or phone number you provided when you registered when logging/calling in to the ZoomGov meeting so that staff can identify you. 
  • Remain logged in or on the line 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).

After you have completed your testimony, you are encouraged to remain available to the Commission in the event there are questions or responses from HERC members. Time spent answering member questions does not count against the time allotted for your testimony.

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 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@dhsoha.state.or.us​. 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 purview.​


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

Members of the public can testify for a limited time on topics not on the agenda. This testimony will generally occur during the last portion of the meeting. Based on the testimony, the Commission may request staff to take up the topic for review at a future meeting once staff has prepared the necessary research and policy analysis.

Coordinated group verbal testimony:

A person who registers to testify at a meeting may cede their testimony time to another person, but in no event will any one person be allowed to testify for more than 10 minutes. In order to coordinate group testimony, all members of the public must:

  • Be logged in to the meeting at the time of the topic's discussion, and
  • When beginning your testimony, state your name and announce your intention to cede your time to a named individual, and
  • Notify staff of your request to coordinate group testimony by emailing HERC.Info@dhsoha.state.or.us 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting in order that staff may coordinate testimony​
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.


Stakeholders can submit unsolicited written comment (up to 1,000 words) per agenda topic per meeting by email to herc.info@dhsoha.state.or.us by noon Pacific time two business days before the scheduled meeting (e.g. the Tuesday prior to a Thursday meeting). Testimony will be forwarded to the Commissioners or subcommittee members. Staff and subcommittee 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, unsolicited 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 related to 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 next section.

Comments exceeding the 1,000-word limit will be truncated. If comments are sent as link to an external document or an email attachment that is not in PDF or Microsoft Word format, staff cannot accept the comment unless it is resubmitted in a correct format prior to the deadline.

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

Comments submitted will be provided in accordance with this policy to Commission/subcommittee/advisory panel/task force members and are subject to disclosure under Oregon Public Records law. If disclosed because of a public records request, the complete comment will be released including your name and any health information provided. Only contact information would be redacted.​

Comments during formal comment periods

For these evidence-based reports, HERC strongly prefers that comments be submitted during the formal written public comment periods, which are announced publicly via our e-Subscribe service​. Submitting comments to herc.info@dhsoha.state.or.us during the formal written public comment period ensures that your comment, and any accompanying evidence, will be formally evaluated 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 be not be included in the formal public comment disposition but will be accepted as written testimony (see the "Written Testimony" policy above). Evidence​ submitted with these comments will be incorporated 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 incorporate 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.

Any member of the public can propose a topic for discussion at the HERC and VbBS, according to the following guidelines. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to collaborate with HERC staff to tailor presentations and requests to help ensure more effective and productive discussions.

  • 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@dhsoha.state.or.us. Any materials sent to the Commission's physical office will not be accepted. The Commission does not accept faxes. This timeframe allows staff to review the submitted material in consultation with the Commission/Subcommittee Chair, determine if it meets the criteria for review and ensure the agenda item will be listed according to the Commission's 28-day advance public notice policy.
  • If, in the HERC Medical Director's judgment, a topic does not meet criteria for a formal 10-minute presentation, individuals may offer written or verbal public comment (for up to three minutes), as described above in earlier policies. The Commission could then elect 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 allotted for a presentation. The chair may allow additional time for Commission members to discuss the presentation and engage in dialogue with the presenter.

HERC strives to utilize the best available evidence in decision-making. We encourage commenters to include the strongest evidence related to the topic they present.​ Review the HERC's Quality of Evidence Statement to better understand the Commission's standards for evaluating evidence.​

It is our policy to provide reasonable accommodations for those with a disability or who require the services of a language interpreter. To make an accommodations request, contact Daphne Peck at 503-580-9792, 711 TTY or herc.info@dhsoha.state.or.us at least 48 hours before the meeting.

Everyone has a right to know about and use Oregon Health Authority (OHA) programs and services. OHA provides free help. Some examples of the free help OHA can provide are:

  • Sign language and spoken language interpreters
  • Written materials in other languages
  • Braille
  • Large print
  • Audio and other formats

If you need help or have questions, please contact Daphne Peck at 503-580-9792, 711 TTY or herc.info@dhsoha.state.or.us at least 48 hours before the meeting.




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