COHO Praises Oregon Senate for Passing Health Transformation

February 15, 2012 -- The Coalition for a Healthy Oregon praised the State Senate Tuesday for passing Senate Bill 1580, the health care transformation bill that will help strengthen the patient-provider relationship through better coordination of care.

“This is a monumental step in the right direction,” said Jeff Heatherington, President and CEO of FamilyCare, Inc. and COHO’s legislative director. “COHO strongly supports transparency and enhancing patient-provider relationships, which is the key to making health care transformation work.”

The Oregon Senate passed the measure 18-12, with the support of all 16 Democrats and two Republican senators, Jackie Winters (R-Salem) and Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro).  The bill was co-carried on the Senate floor by Senators Alan Bates, D.O. and Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, M.D. 

In his remarks on the floor, Dr. Bates spoke about the need for transformation to address the out of control health care costs and bad health care outcomes. “Right here in Marion County 457 physicians are working with county government, mental health, community and behavioral health leaders in conjunction with hospitals in the surrounding areas.  In Douglas County, the first step to forming a CCO has already occurred with the community coming together on its own,” Dr. Bates continued   “In Josephine and Jackson Counties, the local MCO has helped draw all the interests together in order to forge relationships critical to the creation of a CCO.  In Coos Bay physicians, hospital administrators, local community and health leaders have been meeting and are moving forward.” 

The sponsors highlighted the fact that existing Oregon Health Plan managed care organizations have created savings in the past and will give Oregon the opportunity to save money as CCOs develop.  “Managed care in Oregon has already saved the state $10 billion over the past 10 years,” Bates said.  “I’m confident that by giving communities the tools to coordinate care at the local level, the state will realize even more cost-savings.” 

Senator Bates also warned that by not passing the bill, Oregon would face a major budget gap and would likely lose Oregon’s opportunities to receive federal shared savings.

Speaking in support of the bill was Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson (D- Gresham) said allowing transformation to continue would result in more access and create a patient-first health care system.

Senator Steiner-Hayward reiterated the importance of transformation and how it can save both money and lives.  She pointed out that the two doctor-lawmakers in the Senate are supporters of tort reform and yet, still carried the transformation legislation.

SB 1580 now moves to the House and is expected to be heard on the floor later this week.

COHO is an association of Oregon's leading managed care organizations that serve the most vulnerable populations through the state’s Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan (OHP).

“The Managed Care Plans of COHO are already working to create Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO) in our service areas. We are looking forward to working with our providers to expand and improve the care to the people in our communities.”

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