Oregon Session Nears Halfway Point With Key Votes Looming

Feb 14, 2012

SALEM, Ore. – Halfway into a month-long legislative session in Salem, Governor John Kitzhaber’s key policy proposals face a major test as soon as Tuesday. As Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, there have been a few bumps along the road.

The governor has been pushing his so-called "health care transformation" effort for more than a year. It would give health care organizations more flexibility with federal Medicaid dollars. The idea is to save money in the long run.

The Oregon Senate could vote soon on whether to advance the proposal. But Republicans are threatening to block the measure unless it comes with limits on lawsuits against medical providers.

One sign of trouble for Kitzhaber came with a separate health insurance exchange bill. It suffered a setback when the House sent it back to committee.

Democrat Jefferson Smith wondered aloud if politics were behind the unexpected development. "I just hope as we're doing this vote and others going forward that we're making it on the merits of the bill in question and not in the hopes to take bills hostage and trade them for other things."

Meanwhile, the governor's slate of education bills is moving ahead with less resistance. And lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a rebalance of the current two-year spending plan.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network