Christopher David Gray

Health Providers Await New Drugs as Costly Cure for Hep C Hits Market

The new marquee drug Sovaldi has been a boon for its manufacturer, provoking big concerns among coordinated care organizations. But competition should soon eliminate its monopoly and help the healthcare system pay for this promising new cure for a deadly disease.

Near the start of the year, a new drug came on the market, one that could cure Hepatitis C, halve the length of treatment time and for some types of Hep C, be taken without injections of Interferon.

Nonprofit Groups That Led Community Health Worker Training Feel Left Out by State

The deputy commissioner of the state’s community colleges explains that the state money was to ensure that Oregon would have a statewide supply of community health workers, and the money was only approved to flow through the local colleges.

A lynchpin to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s transformation talk has been the community health worker, who can work at the ground level with high-need Medicaid patients and help them access and maintain their proper level of care.

The state budgeted $675,000 to train these essential workers, but the groups that have already been doing much of the work of getting people trained for these new positions, such as the Urban League, have not seen a dime of that money.

NW Health Foundation Study Shows Uninsured 8X as Likely to Use ERs for Dental Problems

Medicaid recipients were also four times as likely as the privately insured to go to the ER when they needed a dentist, but newly expanded coverage should help reduce these visits, which are not only expensive but often don’t provide the care patients need.

A new report from the Oral Health Funders Collaborative, including the Northwest Health Foundation, drilled down on a key driver of emergency department visits -- lack of access to a good dentist. The analysis found people without health insurance were eight times more likely than people with private insurance to head for the emergency room for a toothache or other dental ailment.

OSU’s Bend Campus Purchased from Bend Docs, Hospital for 22% Higher than Appraisal

A group of investors, including St. Charles Medical Center, were able to negotiate a deal that was $900,000 more than an independent assessor said the property was worth. OSU says the higher deal is more in line with current, rising property values.

A recent land deal for St. Charles Medical Center and a group of Bend physicians may have been sweeter than first reported.

Not only did their investment group, Cascade Property Holdings, sell the land for the new Oregon State University campus at a $3 million profit -- they sold the 10-acre parcel for 22 percent more than the appraised value.

State Officials Explain Process to Abort Cover Oregon to Legislators

Gov. John Kitzhaber holds firm in his opinion that Cover Oregon needs no legislative approval or special session to scrap its portal for the federal exchange, despite an opinion from legislative counsel that says otherwise.

State officials on Tuesday worked to downplay the drama in their decision to pull the plug on Cover Oregon as well as buck the public conception that the $248 million given to the failed state insurance exchange was wast

PEBB Sued Over Denied Treatment for Autistic Children

Unwilling to wait the seven months for the Public Employees Benefit Board to voluntarily cover applied behavior analysis, the mother of a 6-year-old with autism has sued the state’s health plan on behalf of state employees in Marion County Circuit Court to force PEBB to cover ABA immediately.

A group of autism advocates have sued the Public Employees Benefit Board, arguing that their self-insured health plan has no right to deny needed treatment for children simply because they have autism.

The class-action lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court comes despite PEBB’s agreement to begin covering applied behavior analysis in January 2015, a position it has voluntarily taken.

Premium Program Fills Gap in Cover Oregon Affordability

Project Access Now, in partnership with the Portland-area hospitals, is offering a premium assistance program to certain Metro residents who get referred by a clinic or hospital, paying premiums and coinsurance for low-income people who did not qualify for the Medicaid expansion.

For people with modest incomes who haven’t been fortunate enough to receive employer-supported insurance, the Affordable Care Act has been something of a godsend, allowing them to purchase health insurance for the first time without breaking the bank.

Nearly 300,000 people in Oregon are newly enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, and many more had the chance to buy subsidized health insurance on Cover Oregon for a fraction of the sticker price.

St. Charles and Bend Physicians Net $3 Million on Land for Oregon State Campus

The former chief administrator for St. Charles Health System, Kirk Schueler, served on the site selection committee and university board that approved the purchase, but says he recused himself from any decision regarding the sale of the property, which sits next to two abandoned industrial sites on the west side of Bend.

A group of investors including St. Charles Health System made $3 million profit selling a 10-acre property on the west side of Bend, to be used by the new Oregon State University -- Cascades Campus.

Community Group Hits Streets and Spanish Airwaves to Boost Cover Oregon

As the website faltered, Cover Oregon has been ever more reliant on the hard work of community organizations to sign people up. The Interface Network in Salem, which works heavily in the Latino community, has one more open house scheduled for April 19.

The Cover Oregon rollout has been notoriously plagued by a terrible website, but the state has consistently ranked in the middle of the pack compared to other states, and reported 63,000 private enrollments on April 10.

One key reason for this? Community partners, who have taken a more grassroots approach to getting people enrolled. These groups, along with insurance agents, can sit with a consumer face-to-face and guide them through the application process. Agents have been given the ability to enroll people immediately in a subsidized health plan, without waiting for Cover Oregon to take days to process the application.

Healthcare Takes Center Stage in House Race by Rob Nosse

The Oregon Nurses Association is going all out to support one of its own in a race for the Oregon House, but a six-way primary has the Democratic Party split on its support to succeed Rep. Jules Bailey in liberal southeast Portland.

Rob Nosse has witnessed first-hand the uplift in the healthcare system over the past decade, observing Oregon’s Medicaid healthcare transformation and now the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

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