One truth about Oregon is that when we think boldly and take action together, real change happens. That has certainly been the case as we work to transform the health care system in our state, and that work continues.
Next week more than 130 people will come together in four work groups to help take the next steps in putting together plans for Coordinated Care Organizations. These are Oregonians from across the state - advocates, clients, county officials, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, mental health providers, academics and more. Donating their time, best thinking and vision, they will meet monthly through November to develop some of the key foundations that will help make better care through the Oregon Health Plan a reality.
Upon legislative approval in February 2012, the first CCO could begin providing coordinated services in 2012.
Here are the four groups:
Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) Criteria, which will be developing qualification criteria and standards for the proposed Coordinated Care Organizations
Global Budget Methodology, which will work on the global budget methodology for CCOs.
Outcomes, Quality and Efficiency Metrics, which will be developing performance standards and benchmarks in order to assess that care is being improved while costs are being reduced.
Medicare-Medicaid Integration of Care and Services, which will develop strategies for improving integration of health and long-term care and services for individuals enrolled in both the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Also expected in the next few weeks is an announcement about the membership of the new Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Board of Directors. Additionally, the Governor's office and Oregon Health Authority are working with Oregon's nine federally recognized tribes to ensure they are involved as our state moves forward for better health.
You can learn more at health.oregon.gov.
This work is happening because we must change the way we deliver and pay for health care in our state, a need that is made more obvious as we all struggle to meet rising demand and higher costs. Health care providers are feeling that reality first hand as the rate reductions in the Oregon Health Plan are beginning this fall. While these reductions are a result of state budget realities, they are not a long-term solution. Until we fundamentally change the way care is delivered - especially for people with chronic conditions - we will futilely continue to manage budgets and costs through payment rate manipulation. A better path is to focus on improving health and making our system more efficient and responsive to the needs of those receiving and providing care within it.
As I talk with people around the state, and as evidenced in the dozens who are stepping up to guide the work, it's clear that Oregon is ready for this next step and, in fact, many are already moving in that direction.
While there is much to be done in the months ahead, I am confident that we have the best thinking in our state working to make coordinated care a reality. Many thanks to all the citizen volunteers and OHA employees who are working so hard to make it happen.