Oregon Health Forum Closes Doors

The announcement makes The Lund Report the sole provider of dedicated Oregon healthcare news

December 3, 2009 -- After two decades as a leading healthcare watchdog group in the state, the Oregon Health Forum has closed its doors.

The non-profit announced the news in an email to subscribers of its longstanding newsletter Oregon Health News and frequent attendees to the organization’s monthly breakfast forums.

“Oregon Health Forum and Oregon Health News regret to inform you that the business has closed. The economic recession resulted in a decline in event sponsorships and subscriptions, a loss which the organization was unable to overcome,” the email stated. “We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and thank you for your support of Oregon Health Forum over the last 19 years.”
Oregon Health Forum was founded by Diane Lund-Muzikant, the creator of The Lund Report, who directed OHF until October 2006. Her departure after hiring successor Carol Robinson led to a lawsuit with the OHF board of directors. This reporter also worked for OHF from 2005-2007.
Robinson left the organization in December 2008 to become an interim director of the Oregon Health Fund Board. She’s now the director of the Health Information Technology Oversight Council. 
Beginning in 2008, Oregon Health Forum started running a deficit from which it couldn't recover, said Jeff Heatherington, president of FamilyCare and OHF treasurer until resigning from the board a month ago. For the past year Jennifer Smith served as interim executive director for the four-person staff.
“I think it’s a real shame to lose an organization that was giving us information on healthcare that we could get nowhere else,” Heatherington said.
OHF Board President Wayne Schumacher could not be reached for comment. Neither could former board president Dick Stenson.
For nearly two decades, the Oregon Health Forum was known as the leading investigative healthcare news source in the state. Lawmakers at all levels of government, journalists, industry leaders, union reps and consumer advocates all looked to the pages of Oregon Health News for inside information. Often that was information the healthcare industry didn’t want you to know.
In the years under Robinson, the organization clearly took a more industry friendly tone.
As an industry insider himself, Heatherington recognizes the value of critical reporting. “It helps keep the industry honest,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. If you don’t want to be under the microscope than don’t do anything that gets you there.”
The organization will be missed, said Rocky King, who was an original board member and led the Office of Private Health Partnerships for the past 20 years.
"It's sad that during hard economic times we lose these businesses," King said. "It's relevant to what we do in healthcare because it always provided another osurce of discussion and debate about healthcare."

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