Christopher David Gray

State Committee Advises Against Basic Health Plan for Working Class

Despite a separate, $70,000 study commissioned to flesh out how a Basic Health Plan for the working poor might work, the Medicaid Advisory Committee recommended against the concept and reported its findings to the Oregon Health Policy Board.

An Oregon Health Authority committee has thrown cold water on the idea of a Basic Health Plan for residents who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level but don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Cover Oregon Consumers Face Tight Window as All Must Make Switch

The move from the state website to the federal one means all 97,000 consumers must re-enroll to stay insured. But an open enrollment window set up before the law took effect means they’ll have just one month to sign back up or face a lapse in coverage. One insurance agent suggests the state extend 2014 plans into February to ensure a smooth switch for consumers.

Update: The article has been appended with comments from Cover Oregon staff.

Moda Health May Help Boost Medical Residencies in Oregon

The Portland-based health insurance company has proposed funding the start-up costs for a nonprofit consortium that would work to recruit faculty and raise cash to fund new medical residencies in the state, the number of which have been largely frozen in place by a 1997 federal law that doesn’t give Oregon its fair share.

Oregon may move to increase the number of medical residencies in the state that have been all but frozen in place since 1997, with an assist from Moda Health.

Insurance Division Prevents Insurance Companies from Making Big Cutbacks

Oregon’s Health Co-Op asked for a 21 percent decrease to its rates, but was allowed to cut rates only about 10 percent. The Insurance Division looked to cull aggressive rate decreases with an eye toward ensuring the companies can maintain solvency. LifeWise Health Plan has the cheapest standard silver plan at $222 a month.

Insurance companies tried to lower their rates on the individual and small business market for 2015, but the Insurance Division set rates higher than the companies asked, arguing that their proposed low premium rates were unrealistic and could undermine the companies’ ability to remain solvent wh

Medicaid Expansion Shifts Mission of Oregon’s Free Clinics

Some clinics have chosen to continue a focus on the uninsured -- and now serve mostly immigrants, shut out of Obamacare. Others now accept Medicaid, continuing the focus on their existing low-income patients now lucky to have coverage.

Obamacare has meant that the Oregon Health Plan, which had been limited to a lottery for low-income adults last year is now open to 365,000 people.

Medicaid Enrollees Should Expect Smoother Renewal Process

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority continues to paint a misleadingly rosy picture of CCOs, giving them credit for improvements to childhood screening that are not the result of better care but better data collection.

Oregon Health Plan members should expect a smoother time renewing their Medicaid benefits this year, according to state officials who met in Salem Tuesday at the Oregon Health Authority’s OmbudsAdvisory Council meeting.

Wanda Davis Looks at Opening to Flip Dallas Seat Democratic

While normally a safe Republican seat, moderate Republicans say the seat is now the Democrats' to lose after a primary revolt threw out the incumbent Rep. Jim Thompson in favor of a hard-line conservative. The new dynamic could elevate Davis, who has worked in state healthcare programs for 15 years.

Wanda Davis has the kind of rags-to-middle-class story that used to define the role of government after President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Cover Oregon Plots Future with Mind Toward Avoiding Risky Goals

Tina Edlund explained that a hybrid process will continue for Medicaid enrollments so that the state can be better assured of not promising more than it can deliver. Meanwhile, insurance agents, who account for 50% of all sign-ups, continue to struggle to get paid.

Cover Oregon is still having problems getting insurance agents the money they’ve earned, and the exchange has yet to collect a dime from the insurance companies that owe it an assessment on every policy sold.

Bend Race Features Republican Surgeon Versus Democratic Veteran

The open seat in central Oregon has been rated a tossup by major media outlets. Two moderate politicians vie to replace outgoing Rep. Jason Conger -- former secretary of state candidate Knute Buehler and Army officer Craig Wilhelm.

The race to replace Rep. Jason Conger in Bend promises to be a close one, with the Republicans looking to add a medical doctor of their own to state politics and the Democrats turning to an Army officer who led helicopter troops in war zones across the globe.

Healthcare System Struggles to Catch Up with Growing Central Oregon Latino Community

Deschutes County’s Hispanic community is much newer than the one in the Willamette Valley, creating a greater learning curve for healthcare providers to serve this population. After the Medicaid expansion provided care to most low-income people, immigration status remains a barrier to seeking care.

Few places have seen as sharp of recent growth in the Latino population as central Oregon. In 1990, there were just 1,500 people of Hispanic origin in Deschutes County -- but by the 2010 census, the county recorded 11,700 people.

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