Over the next few months the Oregon Health Policy Board will be finalizing recommendations for Oregon's health reform agenda for the 2011 legislative session.
Lawmakers created the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Health Policy Board after a series of community meetings and legislative hearings on what Oregonians are looking for from their health and health care systems. Here were some of their top concerns:
- Reduce or contain costs of health care;
- Reduce administration and red tape;
- Address nurse and doctor shortages;
- Integrate mental health care and addiction services;
- Provide patient-centered care with improved outcomes;
- Create incentives for healthy behavior;
- Implement equity in health and health care;
- Build on community health and prevention efforts.
The cost of health care remains a top issue. It is a drag on our economy and on our state. Likewise, too many Oregonians are unable to get the care they need and our health care delivery system needs to transform to meet our future needs.
Citizens at OHPB public meeting
in Baker City Tuesday.
Over the past year the Health Policy Board has held monthly public hearings that address many of these issues and has heard reports from various committees that have also been meeting around the state.
In Oregon, we lead most other states in implementing federal health reform and we are working on ways to localize and improve on the opportunities presented in the national plan.
One of the key ways to ensure that more people have health insurance is through a health insurance exchange -- a central marketplace for individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage. How, when and for whom the exchange will be launched is a key element of the work of OHA and the board and it will affect the direction of health care reform for years to come in our state.
In keeping with the spirit that all health care is local, the board is on the road this month holding six public meetings. Three have already happened -- in Corvallis, Baker City and Florence. Three will happen next week in Portland, Medford and Bend. You can see the full schedule on the OHA website. People can also provide input on the board's interactive website.
So far the meetings have been well attended and the discussions have been helpful. Oregonians believe we have the power to effect real improvements in our health and health care system that will lower cost, improve quality, and fundamentally change the way we receive care.
"All these are pivotal questions," board member Eileen Brady said, "as we're at a critical juncture and trying to decide how to reduce costs and transform Oregon's health care delivery system so that it's world class."
The 2011 legislative session is coming up quickly, but based on the work done so far around the state, I am confident that we will have a plan that meets the needs of Oregonians and will improve the quality of life for us all.