Weekly Review
Broken Promises

On Tuesday of this week, the House Chamber passed the K-12 education budget of $7.255 billion via party-line vote. As I stated on the House Floor, I am very uncomfortable with the passage of HB 5017. This is not enough for our schools, especially considering the passage of SB 248 during the 2011 Legislative Session which allowed school districts to offer full day kindergarten in the fall of 2015. Although this is not currently mandated, all school districts are heading in this direction and feel the need to offer full day kindergarten in order to be competitive, but this costs dollars.

 

As reported by Superintendent Maria Delapoer, HB 5017 does not have enough funding to allow school districts to mentor new teachers, offer classroom management training for staff, or expand the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to both high school and middle schools that creates a "college going culture" and teaches students how to be successful in school. School districts are just now getting close to the class sizes they had in 2008 and offering a full school year after five years of reduced school days. I do not want to see the quality of education jeopardized again, which is why I pushed for an increase in the K-12 educational budget.

 

The legislature has a short memory. We cannot afford to break promises, which is why I voted NO on this bill. If you're interested, you can click the below video to watch my floor speech. 

Rep. Andy Olson On K-12 Budget: I Feel Very Uncomfortable With This Proposal
Oregon Trail Card

In 2013, the Secretary of State (SOS) released an audit regarding public assistance programs which revealed $2.8 million of inaccurate payments. Among a variety of several other inaccuracies, the audit determined 251 Oregon Lottery winners with winnings of more than $5,000 received food stamps, including one person who won more than $900,000.

 

Because of this, former Rep. Carolyn Tomei from Milwaukie and I formed the Public Assistance Program Integrity Workgroup. Not only did we discover there was an issue with the lottery sharing and notification piece, but cardholders selling their card for 50 cents on the dollar.

 

The SOS audit revealed within a three year time period, 37,300 cards were reported to have been replaced by the same cardholder five or more times. Generally, the continued multiple card replacement requests from the same cardholder is a good indication of the amount of cards being sold for cash.

 

Since the SOS audit, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has been working hard to reduce fraud, abuse, and lower the dollar amount of inaccurate payments. For example, in 2013 DHS began piloting a centralized process for replacing lost or stolen cards. Instead of allowing card replacement at a local DHS office, the new process  involves customers requesting a replacement card by calling a toll-free number and receiving the replacement card by mail within five days. This reduces the workload for DHS employees, decreases the number of replacement cards issued and reduces the risk of fraud. The total cards replaced in the month of June of 2012 compared to the month of June of 2013 shows a decrease of over 4,000 replacement cards.

 

After the workgroup report was released last year, I introduced a bill in the 2014 Short Legislative Session requiring the Department of Human Services (DHS) to place the cardholders picture on the card. The bill did not move forward. This year, I introduced three different bills addressing the fraudulent issue, while also ensuring those in need are not hindered. 

 

HB 2394 - Lottery Winnings Data Notification

Currently, the Oregon Lottery does not allow for a data match of their winners with DHS clients. This measure would require Lottery to notify DHS of prize winnings of $1,250 or more within seven days of payout, identifying name and other available information regarding the winner of the prize and amount of prize. 

 

HB 2393 - Recovery from Lottery Winnings

In creating an avenue for Lottery to share winnings with DHS, this concept would establish a data match process identifying lottery winners who are delinquent in paying benefit overpayments, giving the State an opportunity to recover an estimated $209,952 per biennium.

 

HB 2392 - Printed Names of Cardholders

This concept would require DHS to print the cardholder's name on the respective Oregon Trail card only after the cardholder replaces their card.

 

These bills received a work session this week in the House Judiciary Committee and will be moving to the House Floor for a vote. I am hopeful all three concepts continue moving forward.  

 Health Opportunities in Albany

In serving on the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services,  the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Public Health Division requested permission to apply for the Organized Approaches to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening grant for federal funds up to $800,000 a year for five years.

 

The intent of the grant is to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among persons 50-75 years of age. Research reveals that only three of five adults over 50 are receiving screening to recommended guidelines. The result is that more than half of colorectal cancers are diagnosed in the later stages, making it more difficult and costly to treat.

 

Dr. Larry Mullins, President of Samaritan Health Services, recognized this problem and pursued the relationship from OHA to seek the grants. The screening is a pilot project within three counties (Linn, Benton, and Lincoln) covered by Samaritan Health Care.

 

Until next week,

 

 

Andy Olson

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900 Court St. NE, H-478
Salem, OR 97301
503-986-1415

 
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"A promise made is a debt unpaid."
-Robert Service
 
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-Sir William Osler
  
 
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