Chair of Oregon House Health Care Committee urges governor to call special session
Gov. Kate Brown said she wants to wait and see what federal aid looks like by the time it gets to Oregon before she calls a special session of the Legislature to deal with the coronavirus.
But State Rep. Andrea Salinas, whose district includes Lake Oswego and portions of Southwest Portland, wants to act right now.
"We're ready to go. Eager for that call from the governor saying 'Let's bring 'em in.' I think there are some small things we can do and I think they are meaningful," she said.
Salinas served on the short-lived Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response, which met four times this spring to develop policy proposals.
Gov. Brown said Thursday, April 2, that she wouldn't call a special session until she has "sufficient clarity about the federal stimulus."
But Salinas thinks there's a need to take action now on issues other than economic ones. "There are some policy pieces where I think we can have a real impact," she said.
She gave the example of making sure that anyone who has to get medical care outside of their network because of the pandemic doesn't get hit with out-of-network charges.
"Nobody wants to be strapped with a surprise bill because they were sent to an out-of-network hospital due to care triaging," she wrote in an email.
Another reason for a special session would be to change regulations so qualified physician assistants could assume more medical responsibilities.
Salinas chairs the House Interim Committee on Health Care.
She admitted that the financial elements of the $2.2 trillion federal relief package, called the CARES Act, need to be known. "I understand that we need to be cautious about spending money we don't have, but I do think there are some things we could enact quickly if the governor chooses to call us in.
"I've just been talking to members of the Democratic Caucus and we all agree that because we're all such 'doers' it's a hard thing to be in a place where we can't offer a lot."
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