Health Equity Gains Traction in Coordinated Care Organization Work Group

The need to assure that people with diverse healthcare needs are dealt with effectively became a key point when the work group met last week
The Lund Report

September 29, 2011 – Eliminating health inequities among the state’s diverse population needs to become a keystone of the coordinated care organizations (CCOs) that expect to deliver healthcare to more than 600,000 people starting next July.

That consensus was apparent when a work group convened last week in Keizer.    

“Health inequities are not inevitable, they are avoidable,” Carol Cheney, equity manager of the Office of Multicultural Health and Services, told the group.  

When people face obstacles because of an underlying social or economic issue, there’s not necessarily a one size fits all solution, acknowledged Jill Sanders, dean of clinical operations at the National College of Natural Medicine. She suggested that each CCO tailor its business plan to meet the specific needs of its population. Local advisory boards can also play an important role.

“Health equity will look different in different parts of the state, depending on the demographic make-up of each area,” she said. “I think the public should know that health equity and consumer involvement in governance were discussed very seriously and members of the CCO workgroup believe these to be important elements of building the CCO structure.”

As ideas such as these get infused into the CCO blueprint, they need to be consistent with House Bill 3650. The bill set in motion healthcare transformation and a desire to incorporate the goals of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Constructed by Don Berwick, MD, the objectives of the “Triple Aim” are to increase overall population health and improve the experience of care that people receive while lowering healthcare costs. In 2008, the Oregon Health Fund Board published a report detailing how the state could incorporate the elements effectively at the state level.

Eric Parsons, who chairs the Health Policy Board, told group members that, “At the end of the day, care needs to be holistic.”  

Besides health equity, there’s a growing concern about the role of local county and municipal governments in these CCOs, and an underlying fear about how urban and rural communities will have their needs met.

This work group, which will hold monthly meetings through December, is one of four groups charged with assisting the Oregon Health Authority in development of an integrated and coordinated healthcare delivery system. The other three groups are looking at a global budget methodology, outcomes, quality and efficiency metrics, and integration of care for the dual eligible population.

For more information on the work group meeting including member rosters, agendas, and materials, visit Oregon’s CCO Criteria Work Group site.

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