Advocating for a healthier Oregon this legislative session and beyond

Perspective on Oregon Health Care

by Becky Hultberg
The 2024 legislative session has begun, bringing together Oregon’s 90 legislators to pass budget fixes and bills tackling some of the state’s most pressing challenges. As the collective voice for our state’s 61 hospitals, the Hospital Association of Oregon is hard at work advancing policies that address hospitals’ long-term needs to sustain a health care system generations of Oregonians can rely on. 
This session comes on the heels of a winter blast that brought snow and ice to much of the state and had a devastating impact on so many of our communities. The event provided yet another stark reminder that our hospitals must always remain ready and accessible despite the myriad challenges they face. To all the health care workers who put themselves at risk to keep our hospitals and clinics open–thank you.
Though the 2024 session is only 35 days long, we’re still striving toward our long-term goals of protecting access to care, building our health care workforce and stabilizing hospitals’ finances. Our advocacy efforts, which include tracking and engaging on more than 60 bills, are also laying the foundation for next year when we plan to advocate for increased Medicaid funding and insurer accountability. 
While some of the proposed bills this session are complicated, our message to legislators is simple: If we want to ensure dependable access to services in our communities—and have a robust and resilient workforce—we need to make investments and policy decisions that will help hospitals be financially and operationally viable. The stability of our hospitals must be a priority this session and beyond.  
Many hospitals continue to struggle with staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic. In partnership with labor and other groups, we’re championing solutions such as investments in training opportunities and increasing the number of nurse educators to help rebuild our pipeline of health care workers. Importantly, we’re also engaging on a workplace violence prevention bill that would support hospital staff by making an assault on a health care worker a felony and create a grant program to help fund increased security measures and training.
There’s more to be done than can be accomplished in 35 short days. But our commitment to advocacy continues beyond this legislative session. At the heart of our work is ensuring that every Oregonian can access high-quality care, and that starts with ensuring our hospitals have the support they need to withstand today’s challenges and prepare for the future.