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Medicaid Caseload Continues to Rise
Even before the state was hit with COVID-19, the Medicaid burden had become unsustainable

Historically, Medicaid was funded almost exclusively by the federal government. Now, with the Medicaid expansion and the extension of benefits to illegal aliens, Medicaid is on the verge of becoming unsustainable both in terms of costs and the demands that it puts on resources and personnel, and these costs are being increasingly borne by the state. Medicaid programs deliver health care services to over one million people in Oregon -- about a quarter of the population -- primarily through the Oregon Health Plan, which supports comprehensive health care coverage for low-income adults and children eligible for Medicaid, children eligible under the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and children who would be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP except for their immigration status.

Oregon's Medicaid programs have experienced significant changes in the last several years. In the 2011-13 biennium, Oregon transformed the way it provides and pays for medical assistance through a new Medicaid health care delivery system managed by coordinated care organizations (CCOs). A CCO is a network of all types of health care providers who agree to work together in local communities to serve OHP members. CCOs focus on prevention; chronic disease management; early intervention; integration of physical, behavioral, and oral health; and the reduction of waste and inefficiency in the health system.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of CCOs to meet this mission.

The chart at the right shows the considerable spike in caseload when Medicaid was expanded. It should be noted that the estimates that the chart was based on were made before the recent COVID-19 outbreak.


--Staff Reports, with Legislative Fiscal Office

Post Date: 2020-04-26 21:20:21Last Update: 2020-04-26 21:20:39



What is the Legal Authority for Gov. Brown's Order?
Critics say she may be on thin ice.

Upset with the lingering "don't go out unless ncecessary" order, people are beginning to question the legal authority that Governor Brown is relying on to justify her order. It's clear that she has some authority.

Governor Kate Brown has used a statutory process, ORS 401.165, to declare a state of emergency. When the Governor declares a state of emergency under ORS 401.165, the Governor has the following powers, among others: What's not clear is how she can justify intervening in the private economy when it doesn't concern the "management of resources". Since the courts are closed now, it's perhaps not possible for litigation, but as things return to normal, there may be opportunities for some to take action against the State of Oregon and Governor Brown.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-04-26 18:51:53Last Update: 2020-04-26 18:52:10



Evans Supports Higher Taxes
State Rep. Paul Evans voted for a carbon tax that won

Everyone -- well almost everyone -- still remembers the Republican walk out from the 2020 short session to quash the carbon tax and a host of other controversial legislation, but not many remember that the carbon tax passed the House in 2019, only to fail in the Senate. Many have forgotten that Paul Evans (D-Monmouth) is one that voted for this regressive tax.

Economic experts say that this legislation has grave economic consequences and that it may ultimately lead to a recession in Oregon. Early estimates of costs just to state agencies are estimated by legislative fiscal office to be upward of $22 million during the first year. These costs "are primarily associated with the initial implementation of the bill in the 2019-21 biennium. Subsequent biennia costs may be significantly higher due to the roll-up of position costs, standard inflation, or undefined factors such as information technology application implementation."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-04-26 18:43:43Last Update: 2020-04-26 18:43:52



Opinion: Where is the Legislative Oversight?
Lock down Oregon Day 35.

No matter what Oregon does with computer systems some how things get screwed up. Remember the deal with Oracle and Obama care? The next problem is going to be with Oregon implementing Real ID, seems DMV computer capability is going to have a very rough go of it. Have you ever wondered "where is the legislative oversight?"

The long hold times at the Oregon Employment Department are only an example of how Oregon's ruling party has proven incompetent in resolving most of the real issues that affect formerly working, taxpaying, private sector Oregonians. Instead, they have focused on expanding their power to control through excessive taxation, draconian legislation, and denial of the constitutional prerogative reserved for voters to decide on issues by declaring fake emergencies-to prevent dissension. Then, when an economic crisis does present itself, they accept no responsibility for their disastrous failures and misguided agenda. It seems the only disaster planning contingencies the Democrats know is how to cause them.

The questions I would like to ask candidates and elected officials are: So who is responsible for this mess? Why has no one been held accountable? What is your plan to fix this? Why should we vote for you? How are you going to be any different when it comes to tackling the real issues that affect formerly working Oregonians?

Why should I trust you to do any better at anything than they-the enlightened-who have promised nirvana and delivered a dung pile?

My objective is to encourage you to inform voters what you think and how you will address issues that are impacting them now and in the future.


--Northwest Observer Editorial Board

Post Date: 2020-04-26 17:44:44Last Update: 2020-04-26 17:46:12



Changes Proposed for DEQ Commission
A group of citizens is proposing that the commissioners meet some criteria for appointment.

The Department of Environmental Quality is a state agency and, like many larger state agencies, gets policy direction from a commission, appointed by the Governor. In the case of the DEQ, there is a five-member Environmental Quality Commission, appointed by the Governor, without any required qualifications or criteria.

A group of citizens has proposed an initiative that would require the Governor to consider the following criteria when making an appointment:

     (a) No two members shall reside in the same Congressional district.
     (b) At least one member shall be from the mining community
     (c) At least one member shall be from the agricultural community
     (d) At least one member shall be from the manufacturing community
     (e) At least one member shall be from the timber community

Registered Oregon voters who are interested in signing the petition can download the signature sheet here. It must be printed, signed and snail mailed to one of the addresses on the back. It cannot be electronically submitted.

The DEQ budget is comprised of five major program units: Air Quality, Water Quality, Land Quality, Agency Management, and Pollution Control Bonds.

• Air Quality – This program area is responsible for compliance with federal and state air quality standards. The program monitors air quality to protect public health through the development and implementation of pollution reduction strategies. The primary sources of air pollution in Oregon are motor vehicles, forest slash burning, woodstoves, industrial facilities, field burning, and area sources. The federally delegated air quality program includes statewide air quality monitoring and emissions inventory, strategic planning for pollution reduction, and a permit system.

• Water Quality – This program area’s primary functions are setting and monitoring water quality standards and assessments, controlling wastewater through permits and certifications, providing financial and technical assistance, implementing the Oregon Plan for the restoration of salmon populations and watersheds, and implementing portions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Water Quality program also operates the nonpoint source pollution program in Oregon. Nonpoint source pollution is not attributable to a specific source point. Examples of nonpoint source pollution include storm water and agricultural runoff.

• Land Quality – This program area focuses on preventing and reducing waste generation, assuring that waste generated is properly managed, responding to emergency spills, and cleaning up sites contaminated with hazardous substances and uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals. Land Quality operates the federally approved solid waste landfill compliance program and the federally delegated hazardous waste program.

• Agency Management – This program provides leadership, coordination, and support for DEQ and staff assistance for the Environmental Quality Commission.

• Pollution Control Bonds – The sale of pollution control bonds is used by the Department to finance the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Sewer Assessment Deferral Loan program, and the Orphan Site program. Bond proceeds are used to finance municipal waste water facility construction and other water pollution reduction projects.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-04-26 17:23:46Last Update: 2020-04-26 17:23:56



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--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-04-26 12:00:00Last Update: 2020-11-08 12:28:39



Ways & Means SubCommittees
How they differ from your average policy committee

There are (basically) two kinds of committees in the Legislature: Policy Committees and Ways & Means Committees. On Policy committees, it's Democrat vs. Republican and the Republicans always lose, unless it really doesn't matter, or unless someone sells their soul.

Ways & Means SubCommittees are different.

First of all, even though all budgets, as well as any bills that have a significant fiscal impact, go through them, they are not really budget committees. The budgets are made up by the Co-Chairs (or Tri-Chairs) of Ways & Means, and the SubCommittees don't really have that much input as to how much money goes to agencies and for what purpose.

This is why:

Let's say we have a family and we make $50,000 a year. I am the Car Committee for the family and I want to get a $72,000 Porsche. I can get a 5 year loan and the payments will be about $20,000 per year, including interest. What's the problem? The problem is that it only leaves $30,000 for all the other needs for the family (housing, food, utilities, etc). Why should I take that into account? It's a really nice car and it would be cool to have. That's why the Ways & Means SubCommittees don't get to fix budgets -- because every budget expenditure impacts the ability of every other budget expenditure and only those who have the really big picture can do the give and take necessary to craft a complete budget.

So, what do Ways & Means SubCommittees do, if they are not helping to craft the budget? The best use of Ways & Means SubCommittees and the scheduled committee meetings is as oversight for State Agencies. Each of the 120 or so State Agencies will have to appear before one of the SubCommittees and talk about what they are doing and justify their additional asks. It's a perfect time to hold them to account for performance, etc.

There are 6 Ways & Means SubCommittees (all of them are joint committees, consisting of both Senators and Representatives) Additionally, there is the Capitol Construction SubCommittee which does make important decisions about State owned infrastructure, but doesn't oversee any agencies. Further, there is a Joint Committee on Information Management and Technology, which oversees technology projects for the State.

If a Legislator is on policy committees, they will have all the drama and excitement of the debate over the latest restrictions on firearms, or housing, or the newest carve-out for illegal immigrants, or, well, sadly, there are no more debates about abortion anymore because they are all always available at any time and if you can pay for it the state will make your insurance pay for it, and if you don't have insurance, then the state will pay for it. So, if a Legislator wants to "participate" in those debates, they can, but they lost way back in November, when the citizens of Oregon elected a Democratic majority in both chambers, as well as the Governor. So, they're not really "participating" in any debate, because the Party in Power is going to run the table on them.

Or, they can get on a Ways & Means SubCommittee and face down the agency director of -- fill in the blank -- Oregon Health Authority, Energy Dept., DHS, Revenue, Employment, ODOT, whatever. The directors have to sit there and answer their questions, with the cameras rolling and the public watching and they can hold them accountable. It's the greatest power the minority party has in the Legislature.

One Legislator is fond of telling activists this:

While you were on the way to the Judiciary Committee hearing, where you were going to testify against the latest bill to infringe on your firearm rights, you walked past Hearing Room E. You were on your way to be the 318th person to testify about how this bill is unconstitutional and that it should not pass. You didn't really care that they don't have to listen to you and that they're going to pass the bill right through because they have an iron-clad majority in every branch of government, as you walked right past Hearing Room E. The hearing in Hearing Room E, was a budget hearing for the Department of Consumer and Business Services -- pretty boring stuff, especially compared to your gun rights being taken away -- and they were asking for 6 more people to help processing complaints against insurance companies, so that they could better serve the public, so they say.

That's what was going on in Hearing Room E, that you walked right by. And those 6 new employees, each will pay an average of $1,000 per year, or $2,000 per election cycle or $12,000 for the six of them in public employee union dues, which will go straight in the pocket of some Democrat, who, next November, will beat some incumbent Republican and further strengthen the iron-clad majority held by the Democratic Left, and they will be further emboldened to take more of your gun rights -- eventually just your gun.



Keep your eyes on what is important.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-01-01 21:44:18Last Update: 2020-05-23 21:45:07



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--Northwest Observer Advertising Department

Post Date: 0000-00-00 00:00:00Last Update: 2020-12-24 20:35:24



Rep Nosse Seeks to Criminalize Animal Entertainment
Is this an attack on rural Oregon?

When the Governor’s race was in full swing, Governor Brown posted pictures of her riding horses and pictures with dogs. Her team discovered that dogs and horses increased views significantly. Everyone loves their pets. Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland) should know the benefits that animals bring to therapy from working for the Oregon Nurses Association. But, his lack of that personal experience is apparent in his introduction of HB 3008.

HB 3008 prohibits a person from using domestic dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, cows, Ilama, sheep, reindeer, pigs, goats, and many exotic type animals in the Traveling Animal Act, which prohibits performance in which an animal is transported to perform. “Performance” is defined as a carnival, circus, display, exhibition, exposition, fair, parade, petting zoo, photographic opportunity, race, ride, trade show or similar undertaking during which an animal performs tricks, gives rides or otherwise entertains or amuses an audience, whether or not a fee is charged.

If your grandchild brings his pet over to show you new tricks, are you entertained or amused? No more photo ops for the Governor, no more petting animals for kids at the fair, no more horse clues, no more livestock shows for 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America. These organizations teach our youth how to be responsible owners and breeders by taking pride in showing their animals. This experience provides the basis to be good productive citizens. It begs the question of why Rep. Nosse wants to dash the dreams of animal lovers and future farmers.

As this bill is written, even the most common kind of therapy animal, a therapeutic visitation animal, would be in jeopardy. Violations in the bill allows forfeiture of the animal, which could be devastating to a patient. The bill seems to be aimed at abusive training of an animal. Oregon has several laws in place for abuse and neglect of animals. ORS 167.350 requires forfeiture of rights when an animal is mistreated. Every type of animal has an organization that studies the effects of training on an animal. Animals are empowered when presented choices, which helps eliminate stress. According to the Animal Behavior Center, training builds mental confidence and it even makes medical examinations less stressful for the animal.

What about those professional pet photos? Will Governor Brown remove her riding pictures from social media?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 0000-00-00 00:00:00Last Update: 2021-01-30 18:30:08



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