Oregon and the nation need collaborative, community-based health care that’s more efficient and focused on overall community health, the health policy adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber told attendees at a public health conference in Corvallis on Monday.
The good news, said Mike Bonetto, is that the Legislature has given health care advocates a tool to help do that in the form of House Bill 3650. And, Bonetto said during an early session of the Oregon Public Health Association’s annual meeting and conference, public health professionals have a huge role to play in the future of the state’s health care system.
Each coordinated care organization will receive a budget to manage and deliver physical, dental and mental health care to patients with the goal of promoting
preventative care and improving community health. The overall goal is to enhance the patient’s experience, improve the health of Oregonians and reduce per capita costs.
A coordinated care organization criteria work group has been meeting since August and has hosted community meetings throughout the state. Coordinated care organizations are scheduled to begin operating next summer.
Such community-based health care models have proved to be beneficial, Bonetto said.
For example, the nonprofit Mosaic Medical in Bend conducted a one-year pilot program that worked to treat 100 of the costliest Medicaid patients of Central Oregon with team-based care. In six months, he said, the program has saved the state $621,000 by helping those patients avoid emergency rooms for nonemergency care.
However, Bonetto noted, “savings is in the eye of the beholder,” explaining that such a new model may elicit pushback from hospitals, who see the loss of state funds for Medicaid patients as a potential cut to their revenues.
But, he said, coordinated care organizations will likely save the state and its taxpayers money.
“You need a new system in place where everyone can win,” Bonetto said.
He also stressed that public health professionals are a vital part of this collaborative approach to health care, where improved community health is a goal.
“We need folks who are going to challenge the status quo,” Bonetto said.
He did acknowledge the challenges in revamping the Oregon Health Plan, but added that opportunity can be found in tumultuous times.
“You never want to waste a crisis,” Bonetto said.
The conference continues today at Oregon State University’s LaSells Stewart Center and is open to the public. See oregonpublichealth.org for today’s schedule and to register online.
More information on the coordinated care organization criteria work group and community meetings can be found at health.oregon.gov.
Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.