Hundreds of nurse practitioners in Oregon have been forced to reduce or close their practices due to diminished reimbursement rates. In 2009, insurance companies in Oregon began sending emails declaring reduced reimbursement rates for services rendered by providers who were not physicians. These unofficial documents were contested by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) last year, when House Bill 3028 proposed a reversal of the 40% to 55% cut in reimbursement rates for psychiatric and primary care nurse practitioners. The legislation sought to require insurers to reimburse providers at equal rates for equal services. The bill stalled before coming to a vote, keeping the drastic reimbursement cuts intact.
"It's a significant problem that needs to be solved," said Susan King, executive director of the ONA.
"There's no current law that speaks to payment for services in the private insurance business, and so they can just set the numbers wherever they want," added King.
Teri Bunker, FNP, owner of a practice in Portland, shared her frustration with the reduced reimbursement rates. "All PCPs need to stand together," she said. "A cut for anyone is a cut for everyone. The biggest factor driving cost is the devaluation of primary care."
The ONA introduced House Bill 4010 in the 2012 legislation session, seeking parity once again.
Although one committee voted to recommend it for House consideration, another committee kicked it back for reconsideration, effectively killing the bill for this year.