Nurse pay bill adds to health care costs

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By Associated Oregon Industries,

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants had their first hearing of the session in an ongoing effort to secure fees equal to MDs when performing the same services. Although the bill (HB 2902) was introduced in the last two legislative sessions, proponents were never able to gain enough support for passage.

This session, though, the bill has stronger support from Health Care Committee members in the House and Senate, as well as sponsorship of the Speaker, both committee chairs, and Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland), an osteopathic physician from Medford.

Several amendments have been drafted to limit the bill’s reach. Three of them would apply the pay equity requirement to only nurse practitioners (cutting out physician assistants); of those three, one limits the pay equity to only frontier areas (rural), one requires that pay for nurse practitioners be returned to 2008 levels, and one requires carriers to justify recent cuts to nurse practitioner reimbursement.

AOI opposes the bill on the basis that it would increase health care costs; health insurance carriers and the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of Oregon also testified in opposition.