More than three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, many healthcare institutions continue to have difficulty fully staffing all their facilities. In response, both the Oregon and Washington legislatures enacted new laws that will change how hospitals plan for and staff their facilities. While both states will send shockwaves throughout their hospitals, the approaches differ
On May 10, 2023, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) announced that, effective May 11, it is suspending the statewide rule requiring that health care workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have an approved medical or religious exception. The news coincides with the end of the federal public health emergency on May 11, along with the anticipated end of the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care facilities certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”).
The OHA stated that immediate suspension of the rule is necessary “to align with the end of the federal public health emergency and elimination of other COVID-19-related control measures, and because there is no longer a significant public health need for this rule.”
The OHA also stated:
The rationale for the rule when it was adopted was that COVID-19 was likely to be transmitted in these congregate settings, placing vulnerable persons at risk. [The Oregon mandate] is now being suspended, because immunity from the primary series is known to wane over time, such that 2 booster vaccinations have since been recommended for most persons. Moreover, the virus that causes COVID-19 has mutated such that the original series provides little longer-term protection against infection by currently circulating strains. Finally, at this point most people have been infected by the virus (94% by one estimate), giving survivors a degree of immunity at least equivalent to that provided by the original vaccination series for some period of time.Continue Reading Oregon Health Authority Suspends COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers
Stoel Rives recently continued its long-time sponsorship of the Portland Business Journal Health Care of the Future awards. A special publication for the awards includes a collaboration by Stoel Rives’ attorneys Todd Hanchett, Tim Hatfield, Kelly Knivila and Sarah Oyer on an article addressing four current trends in health care. Topics covered include behavioral health services, value-based purchasing, telehealth and employment-related issues. Read the full article here.Continue Reading Stoel Rives’ Health Care Attorneys Contribute to PBJ ‘Health Care of the Future’ Special Publication
In a previous Health Law Insider blog post, Stoel Rives’ health care team discussed the prohibition on elective procedures promulgated by Oregon and Washington in an effort to conserve the states’ supply of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) and manage provider treatment capacity to ensure adequate resources were available to combat COVID-19. Recently, Oregon and Washington issued guidance permitting providers to gradually restart the provision of elective and non-emergent procedures. As discussed below, Washington also released interpretive guidance to help providers determine how to assess “harm” to the patient that would help determine which procedures are urgent such that they are permitted under the “critical care phase” described in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-24.1.
Additionally, Minnesota recently eased its prohibitions on non-urgent and elective procedures. For information regarding Minnesota’s order, please refer to our earlier client alert.
Oregon’s requirements for resumption of elective and non-emergent procedures are onerous and differ based on the provider type. Prior to resuming elective and non-emergent procedures, hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers (“ASC”), must:
- Ensure that they have adequate bed and workforce capacity to “accommodate an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in addition to increased post-procedure hospitalizations.” Specifically, hospital bed (i.e., ICU, step-down, and medical/surgical beds) availability in the region must be maintained at or below 20% and providers must have sufficient capacity to treat all hospitalized patients “without resorting to crises standard of care”;
- Attest that they are maintaining a 30-day PPE supply on hand (two-week supply and an “open supply chain” is sufficient for “small facilities”);
- Be able to obtain “sustained PPE supply” without the triggering PPE-conserving measures;
- Hospitals must provide a daily PPE supplies report to the Oregon Health Authority’s hospital capacity web system;
- Have adequate access to COVID-19 testing capacity that provides results within two days (four days for smaller facilities) and consider testing patients before performing non-emergent or elective procedures;
- Have strict infection control and visitation policies in place; and
- Have sufficient resources for peri-operative care (e.g., pre- and post-operative provider visits; lab, radiology, and pathology services; and other ancillary services).
In an effort to conserve the state’s medical supplies and equipment, specifically personal protective equipment (PPE), Washington and Oregon (among other states) have banned non-urgent, elective procedures. A move that the states hope will help ensure adequate supply of PPE and other medical equipment (e.g., ventilators) to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is a comparative chart summarizing the prohibitions promulgated by Washington and Oregon:
Continue Reading Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: Elective Medical Procedures Banned, PPEs at Risk of Confiscation
Several updates have made by the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) and the Health Evidence Review Commission (“HERC”) since this alert was first posted. The following is updated as of March 31, 2020.
On March 16, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) issued a new temporary emergency rule revising OAR 410-130-0610 – OHA’s Medicaid telehealth reimbursement…
Angle v Board of Dentistry, No. A162472, decided by the Oregon Court of Appeals on October 17, 2018, is a statutory interpretation case that may inform how dentists respond to requests for information from the Oregon Board of Dentistry.
ORS 679.170(6) provides that no person shall “fail to respond” to a written request from the Board of Dentistry for information. Does a “nonresponsive” reply count as a failure to respond? In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals decides that just saying something is not sufficient to comply with ORS 679.170(6). Instead, responses must be responsive. According to the court, telling the board to go fly a kite or writing a letter about the history of Rome will not pass muster. However, a “curt and not overly helpful” response may work.
Continue Reading Was the Response Responsive Enough? The Oregon Court of Appeals Weighs In On “Failure to Respond” to the Board of Dentistry
The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (the “Division”) recently issued a bulletin clarifying Oregon law and guidance applicable to association health plans (“AHPs”), which are multiple employer welfare arrangements (“MEWAs”) under ERISA. In Bulletin No. DFR 2018-07 (the “Bulletin”), the Division declined to adopt the more flexible criteria established by the recent U.S. Department of…