Eugene, October 12
Last night in Astoria, in a beautiful room overlooking the Columbia River, we met with members of the local community to discuss plans to transform how care is delivered in the Oregon Health Plan. It was our eighth such gathering over the past three weeks.
As we have been on the road, from Roseburg to Medford, from Eugene to Florence, from Pendleton to Bend and to Portland, we have met with and heard from about 1,000 people. In these discussions, we have taken away several key lessons:
Bend, October 6
- Oregonians are eager for a new way to get health care that focuses on patients, not protecting the current system. Prevention, coordinated care, chronic disease management, local control for a global budget, and measurable outcomes are all the elements of HB 3650 that people in communities told us frankly were long overdue.
- Oregonians are ready for a change to get costs under control. It's clear that Oregonians know the current system brings great risk. If we allow our current health care system to go on as at is, it will eat up an increasing share of our state's public and private resources. We have to act now to stem the out-of-control inflation that comes from an inefficient system. As an example of how out of synch health care costs are with the rest of our economy, if food prices had increased at the same pace as health care has since the 1930s, a dozen eggs would cost more than $80. A bag of oranges would be more than $105. Everywhere we go, people know that's not sustainable.
- There will be challenges. Making the transition from current models while aligning access to care and the community infrastructure will not be easy. Health care providers will have to operate in ways they never have before.
- And yet, local health care providers and plans have already started working on how they will change the way they do business to create Coordinated Care Organizations. While our timelines are short, in several communities people told us they have begun working together in new ways and will be ready to take the next steps if the Legislature approves the final proposal in February.
- Finally, we heard that two key ingredients to make this work will be to allow local communities flexibility (because no two areas of the state are exactly alike) and for us to quickly remove bureaucratic barriers that inhibit the ability of communities to innovate and move quickly to create positive change.
Portland, October 10
Using this input, over the next months the final business plan for the CCOs will be put together and submitted to the Oregon Health Policy Board for comment. The plan will be sent to the Legislature by the end of the year.
This public process of working together toward better health and lower costs has been truly inspiring, whether in the local meetings or through the monthly work groups.
When we are done, we can truly say this is Oregon's plan – Oregon's way to health.