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Lincoln City Health Care Roundtable

Lincoln City Health Care Roundtable
November 14, 2011

We first set out to establish a more effective and equitable way to allocate limited health care resources through the Oregon Health Plan nearly 20 years ago. It was an effort that involved many people across the state – including Lincoln County.

But even with the changes we made, the cost of medical care has continued to grow faster than wages – and this is simply not sustainable. It hurts businesses and families, and it is eroding our ability to invest in education and other social priorities.

Unlike other states that are trying to save health-care dollars by dropping people from coverage, Oregon has chosen another path: We are embarking on a bold journey to change the way health care is organized and delivered so that we can improve Oregonians’ health by providing better care at a lower cost for the long term.

Our health transformation legislation will create Coordinated Care Organizations to integrate the delivery of mental, physical, and oral health services to ensure that Oregonians are getting preventive care and appropriate management of chronic conditions so that they don’t wind up in the emergency room needing far more expensive acute care. By cutting emergency room visits and other avoidable, costly procedures for acute care, we will drastically reduce waste and inefficiency while providing a higher quality of care with better health outcomes at a lower cost.

There are many people – some that are here today – who have helped us get to where we are today, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them all: we would not be here without you, your guidance, your patience, your belief, your long hours, and your commitment to be heard in Salem. But this is not the end – it is just the beginning of some more very, very hard work. And before I leave here today, I’m going to ask for your help one more time.

In order to succeed, it will take the best thinking in our state. To that end, we have held community meetings in 8 cities around the state, hearing from 1,200 people in person and online. We’ve also had small group like meetings like this one, and will be holding more in the weeks to come.

Also, as you may know, I launched four work groups to provide the input necessary for key elements of the Coordinated Care Organizations, including criteria for developing the Global Budget, for developing outcome measures, for developing metrics for quality and efficiency, and for how we integrate and coordinate care. They will have their final meetings this week and their input will inform the business plan that we are submitting to the legislature in January month for approval in the February session. These dates are approaching quickly.

And my friends, that’s when the real work begins. Once the final plan is approved, it’s going to require an unprecedented level of cooperation, collaboration, and trust – between providers and consumers and payers and insurers. As we build the plans for these Coordinated Care Organizations, we’ll be pulling together the best practices from around the state.

You know what we all know – the current health care system doesn’t work to keep people healthy. It’s divisive and expensive and uncoordinated. But here in Lincoln County and in other communities you are pointing the way. If we are to be successful, we need to build in the local work underway and leverage that to full-fledged coordinated care.

We have the opportunity to do something that no other state has done, something that has eluded our nation for decades: producing a health care system that actually improves the health of our population at a cost we can afford. This is not going to be easy, we all know that, but I know that we can do it because we’ve done it before. Oregonians are counting on us, and we are not going to let them down. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were, and ask why not.” Why not us? Why not now? Why not here in Oregon?


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