On Monday the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave final approval to a waiver to establish Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) in Oregon and give them more flexibility for truly patient-centered care. The agreement also holds the state and CCOs accountable to lower the growth in health care spending and improve the quality of care. As Governor Kitzhaber has said, this is the final building block we need to truly transform services for better health and lower costs.
We've posted the waiver and some fact sheets about it here.
What you won’t read in those documents, however, is the story behind the scenes that made all this happen. That is a long story, but one I want to briefly tell this week.
It is a story about dedicated teams across the country who have a shared belief in our ability to really make a difference in the lives of the people we serve – both our clients and the public at large. A shared belief that we can create a new path that casts off the limitations that have held us back for so long.
Driven by that shared belief, these teams gave up nights, weekends, and time with their families to put the waiver in place and establish CCOs. There were teams of innovative health care leaders in communities across Oregon working around the clock to bring together the local health community to form our new CCOs.
Likewise, there were dedicated teams at OHA and CMS working on waiver and implementation issues. There were long meetings and discussions and ideas flying back and forth. I knew that we were on to something special when CMS staff started calling us after 7 p.m. our time because they had one more thing they wanted to cover. That’s late into the night in Washington, D.C. In some circles, these Oregon and Washington, D.C., teams would be labeled bureaucrats. To me, they are superstars.
The work being done in both the public and private sectors over the past several months has set our state on a new direction that will have repercussions on the lives of many people for years to come.
I want to thank each and every person who worked to get us where we are today. And I look forward to sharing with them along the way how their vision is becoming reality.