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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Ex-Agency Officials Skip Hearing On Oregon Health Authority Controversy

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An Oregon legislative panel came up empty Monday in its efforts to grill three former Oregon Health Authority employees. The committee wanted to ask about their role in a plan to discredit an Oregon health care nonprofit.

The hearing was scheduled after news reports surfaced that the Oregon Health Authority had drawn up plans to plant negative stories about FamilyCare in the press. FamilyCare has been engaged in a long-running dispute with the agency over the rates the state pays it to provide health care to low-income Oregonians.

While the plan was never implemented, three OHA employees, including director Lynne Saxton, left the agency this year. None of the three showed up to testify.

Republican Sen. Kim Thatcher said she’s not convinced that getting rid of three employees was enough for the agency to change its ways.

“I think it’s going to take a lot more than that,” Thatcher said. “In fact, I think there are people still there who were involved. We just don’t know who they are.”

Thatcher wants the panel to use its subpoena powers to compel testimony from the ex-employees. But other members didn’t think that was necessary.