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Jonathan Lockwood: Passage of Will’s Bill critical

Submitted photo##Speakers and Senate Bill 1054 advocates, including State Sen. Brian Boquist, left, take pictures with  family members of Will Naugle, an Afghanistan veteran who committed suicide, during an early June rally at the state capitol.
Submitted photo##Speakers and Senate Bill 1054 advocates, including State Sen. Brian Boquist, left, take pictures with family members of Will Naugle, an Afghanistan veteran who committed suicide, during an early June rally at the state capitol.
Submitted photo##State Sen. Brian Boquist and his wife Peggy talk to Green Beret veteran Greg Walker during a rally earlier this month to support legislation regarding access to mental health services for veterans.
Submitted photo##State Sen. Brian Boquist and his wife Peggy talk to Green Beret veteran Greg Walker during a rally earlier this month to support legislation regarding access to mental health services for veterans.

Earlier this month, Medal of Honor recipient retired Master Sgt. Leroy Petry spoke at the VETERANS FIRST rally to urge lawmakers to remove the barriers to expanding access to mental health care services. 

“I’m not a resident of Oregon state, I came here on my own accord to support something I believe in,” said Petry, who was informed of the crisis in Oregon and flew directly to speak in support of Oregon veterans. Gov. Kate Brown did not have time to meet Petry, but he encouraged her to find time in the future. Petry’s remarks can be viewed here. “Hopefully everyone will come through in the end and support this bill. Many of our veterans want to be pillars in their community, why not help them get back to that?”

Petry, who received the nation’s highest military honor for valor in Afghanistan, believes providing access to mental health care for veterans remains an important and critical issue.

The problem is particularly grave in Oregon as the state ranks 49th out of 50 in mental health services accessibility, according to a ranking released last fall by nonprofit Mental Health America. Advocates reminded the public June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month.

Oregon veterans advocates have been beseeching lawmakers to clear “Will’s Bill,” Senate Bill 1054. With little time left in what’s sadly become one of the most contentious legislative sessions, veterans advocates are alarmed Will’s Bill will die in committee.

Will’s Bill is a veterans-backed answer to end government monopolies and bureaucratic strong-arming directly responsible for placing restrictive obstacles that do nothing more than serve as a blockade between veterans in need and the behavioral health care providers looking to expand Oregon’s failed mental health care services.

It’s named after Specialist Will Naugle, an Afghanistan veteran, and one of many service members lost to suicide each day. 

Guest Writer

Guest writer Jonathan Lockwoodis the communications director for the Oregon Senate Republicans.

“We cannot allow veterans’ mental health services to become a casualty of this legislative session,” said Senate Minority Whip Dennis Linthicum, of Klamath Falls. “Oregon veterans can’t wait, we need to pass this bill. Even after multiple press conferences, outreach and grassroots fury over this issue, too many have turned their backs. The passage of Will’s Bill would create tremendous change, by eliminating bureaucratic obstacles, at no cost to taxpayers.”

In Oregon, providers trying to build new mental health care facilities specifically for veterans and their families face a hellacious bureaucratic process, with a name George Orwell couldn’t have better coined: “Certificate of Need.”

The Certificate of Need process is abominably forced by the diagnostically problem-plagued Oregon Health Authority (OHA), which is suffering a severe status of whirling credibility, among so many, but especially veterans advocates, for its actions some have called “bureaucratic terrorism.”

One provider, Willamette Valley Behavioral Health (Willamette Valley), has been seeking to build a much-needed veterans’ health facility in Wilsonville.

illamette Valley recently filed a complaint against OHA for operating outside its legal authority by unilaterally delaying a decision on the facility’s Certificate of Need. The pointless, horrific delays sparked huge surges in provider and patient costs. The provider’s complaint was filed in Marion County Circuit Court.
Oregon’s Certificate of Need program was instituted 1971 and arose from the legislature’s aspiration to provide reasonable access to quality health care, the complaint explains. The complaint continues to explain since that time, forty years of peer-reviewed academic research suggests Certificate of Need laws have not only failed to achieve their goals but have, in many cases, led to the opposite outcome of what was intended.

The providers’ allegations in their lawsuit focus on the Certificate of Need process. The approach that plagues many states has come under fire from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the American Medical Association.

Months ago, the U.S Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated:

“CON laws can restrict entry and expansion, limit consumer choice, and stifle innovation. Additionally, the CON process can be exploited by incumbent firms to thwart or delay entry by new competitors, as well as potentially obstruct efforts to restore competition lost to an anticompetitive merger, harming free markets and consumers.”

The American Medical Association jumped into the fight against dangerous Certificate of Need laws and found:

“CON regimes prevent new health care entrants from competing without a state-issued CON, which is often difficult to obtain. This process has the effect of shielding incumbent health care providers from new entrants. As a result, CON programs may actually increase health care costs, as supply is depressed below competitive levels.”

We see this constantly with government, where these so-called ‘intentions’ never manifest themselves in a positive manner; it’s like metaphysics distorted. We have to really question what is happening here and ask why the supposed purveyor of health care in Oregon is deliberately restricting urgent, critical care, the difference between life and death for some of our veterans. OHA is public enemy number one for Oregonians demanding veterans mental health services be expanded as they clearly need to be and as Oregonians have clearly demanded repeatedly. Oregon veterans can’t wait.

Comments

Seabiscuit

SB 1054 A
-6 (S) Introduction and first reading. Referred to President's desk.
4-6 (S) Referred to Veterans and Emergency Preparedness.
4-13 (S) Public Hearing held. 
4-18 (S) Work Session held.  


5-4 (S) Recommendation: Do Pass with amendments. (Printed A-Eng.)
5-4 (S) Referred to Rules by order of the President.
7-7 (S) IN COMMITTEE UPON ADJOURNMENT.

But that's O.K.. They passed SB 719 in an underhanded fashion which will save those who have suicidal tendencies. According to House Majority Leader Williamson it will also prevent Thurston High School, Clackamas Town Center and UCC type mass shootings.


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