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MailTribune.com
  • Oregon health care industry aims to further cost-cutting goals

    Federal government offers $1.9 billion to help care organizations reduce costs by 2 percent annually
  • Oregon health-care providers seeking to produce better outcomes for Medicaid patients at a lower cost are hoping to qualify for a hefty cash infusion from the federal government.
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  • Oregon health-care providers seeking to produce better outcomes for Medicaid patients at a lower cost are hoping to qualify for a hefty cash infusion from the federal government.
    In response to Affordable Care Act mandates, the state's coordinated care organizations are making progress toward reducing costs by an average of 2 percent annually over a five-year period, Providence Health and Services' Oregon government affairs director Michael Becker told a Chamber Forum audience Monday at Rogue Valley Country Club. (Correction: An error in the name of the type of organizations involved has been fixed.)
    "Oregon uniquely has a waiver with the federal government that makes available over five years $1.9 billion to fund this transformation," Becker said. "If we meet that reduction, it translates into over $10 billion in savings to the federal government. Those are big numbers, but nonetheless it is a huge savings if we meet this objective."
    Preliminary quarterly reports from CCOs to the state indicate movement in the right direction, he said. Emergency room trips have declined 13 percent from the baseline year of 2011, overall spending on emergency room visits has dropped by 18 percent, and hospitalization for chronic conditions for the Medicaid population has fallen as well.
    Whether the decreases are due to ACA mandates, or not, is yet to be seen.
    "The jury is still out," Becker said. "Nonetheless, this is promising and we are going to continue down this road because health care needs to transform. It is too costly, it is too confusing, it is too complex, and this gives us hope and a significant model to roll out and change how care is delivered."
    While transformation fatigue has already occurred in many quarters, Becker said there will be much more.
    "People are overwhelmed by the level of change that is going on in health care, and more is to come," he said. "We aren't done with transformation by any means. We aren't done with exchanges and changes in state and federal law as we roll out this transformation."
    He said the just-ended legislative session in Salem didn't alter much, but coming elections will give voters a chance to respond to Cover Oregon and the national ACA rollout.
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.
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