Yesterday state economists released an updated forecast of General Fund and Lottery revenue for the remaining months of the 2009-2011 budget and projected revenue for the 2011-2013 budget.
The forecast for the current budget shows the effects of the Great Recession still linger: there is $40 million less than earlier projected for the rest of this biennium.
Looking forward, however, economists say they see signs that Oregon's economy is slowly improving, so they have bumped up the projected revenue for the 2011-2013 budget by about $129 million. This is the figure lawmakers will use to finalize the state budget by the end of the legislative session.
This is good news. It's a positive sign for economic recovery and may point the way to a better future for the people served by the Oregon Health Authority.
At the same time, the uptick in revenue does not cover the difference between the cost of services and available funds for 2011-2013. The Oregon Health Plan has a $615 million gap between demand and revenue.s
To make up for that revenue shortfall, lawmakers are discussing reduction of services to Oregon Health Plan clients and steep cuts to payments for providers who serve Medicaid clients. These reductions will be very difficult. They also come at a time when it is imperative that we make transformational changes to improve value and health outcomes and reduce waste and inefficiency in our health care system. The challenge before all of us in Oregon, and one I believe we are up to, will be to make these changes as quickly as we can during the coming two years.
One thing this forecast calls into sharp focus is how markedly different the next two years may be from the years we have just come through. We have had month after month of increasing demand for services and declining revenue, and there may be more shortfalls in the future as the economy slowly comes back. I know that it has been difficult and I thank each and every one of you who has worked so hard during this time.
Together we rose to that challenge. Now we are working toward the next one: reorienting our entire agency -- from DMAP to PEBB and OEBB to Public Health to AMH and to all other programs -- to support transforming the health care delivery system. This will mean working closely with our partners in local communities to better coordinate the care people receive while bringing prevention and population health into the mix in a more tangible way. It will also mean continuous improvement -- bringing creativity, foresight and good stewardship to the way we do our work. After coming through the last several years, I know this is a challenge we can meet.