By Betsy Earls
Associated Oregon Industries
Approval of the business plan for the Health Insurance Exchange, HB 4164, had its first hearing on Wednesday afternoon. Early on Wednesday, there were rumors that the bill was slated to move out of committee that day, but things didn’t go as planned.
In the hearing, Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) offered an amendment to remove a section that allows the Exchange to pilot the program with their own employees before it becomes available to the public. That suggestion triggered several questions, both about the amendment and about other aspects of the Exchange. The committee closed for the day without taking action. The bill has now been rescheduled for a work session on Friday.
Approval of the Exchange’s business plan is AOI’s number one health care priority this session. The Exchange offers several advantages to small employers, from the opportunity to make defined contributions for insurance premiums, to the availability of plan choices to their employees. The Exchange is a critical piece of health care reform in Oregon, was carefully vetted in 2011, and should now be moved through the 2012 Legislature toward full implementation.