The Oregon Health Authority director will be in Medford Tuesday to answer questions and attempt to allay any fears the public might have over health care changes coming to the state in August.

The Oregon Health Authority director will be in Medford Tuesday to answer questions and attempt to allay any fears the public might have over health care changes coming to the state in August.

Oregon lawmakers adopted a far-reaching plan last session and plan to begin implementing it by Aug. 1. The most significant aspect of the reform is the creation of Coordinated Care Organizations, or CCOs, which will group mental, physical and dental care providers together to serve low-income patients under the Oregon Health Plan.

Physical and mental health care providers are separate and barely communicate with each other, even when a patient is receiving care from each profession. The goal is to combine health care providers under one umbrella, so that when a person enters the health care system he or she is tracked through all types of care.

The Oregon Health Authority argues that by not having mental and physical health services interact and coordinate care, logjams are created in the system, which causes patients sometimes to see multiple doctors to get the same treatments.

The CCOs were developed after a statewide push by heath officials last year to seek public input on how the new system should be designed.

Some of Oregon's largest health care providers, including the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the Oregon Medical Association, CareOregon, PacificSource and others, will present an open forum Tuesday at the Red Lion Hotel in Medford.

"This is meant to be very interactive with the audience," said Doug Riggs, who is helping to organize the event. "They will take questions from the audience and will leave 45 minutes to an hour afterward to answer questions."

The forum, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will explain how the CCOs will work and give information on timelines on when the system will be implemented.

The event is open to the public, including local doctors who might have questions on how the system will affect the region's health care community.

"This is a wholesale change in the way the state will manage the Oregon Health Plan," Riggs said. "We know health care providers will have questions, as will patients under the plan."

As of Friday, 75 people had signed up for the forum. Medford is one of six stops across the state for the group.

"The forums have been very popular," Riggs said. "There have been around 1,000 people attend the previous forums."

The event carries a $50 cost that includes lunch. Those who can't afford the $50 fee can apply for a free seat by visiting the CCOs website at www.ccooregon.com.

To register for the event, see the website.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.