The Lund Report

Oregon's HealthCare CO-OP Receives $57 Million in Federal Startup Funds

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The nonprofit is the second Oregon-based insurer to receive federal startup assistance – making Oregon the only state so far with two approved co-ops

April 3, 2012 – With support from the federal government, a second consumer owned and operated health plan is on its way to becoming a reality in Oregon and could begin enrolling members by January 2014.

Known as Community Care of Oregon, it received $57 million in grant and loan funding last week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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Starting April 18, readers will have to become subscribers to The Lund Report before having their comments published

April 2, 2012 – Since The Lund Report was launched in 2009, we’ve received a tremendous number of comments about our news articles, and have published the majority of them – often times anonymously.

That’s about to change. Starting April 18, people who want to submit comments to The Lund Report will have to become subscribers and tell us their names and email addresses. They can share other information about themselves as well, but that’s strictly optional.

Portland’s Transgender Benefits Have Gone Unused

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Last June the Portland City Council unanimously approved the new benefit joining Multnomah County and San Francisco

April 2, 2012 – None of Portland’s city employees or family members have used the city’s transgender benefits that were approved by the city council. But that isn’t unusual, said Yvonne Deckard, director of human resources, and doesn’t mean providing those benefits are without value.

“We didn’t anticipate that there would be a large volume of claims, necessarily,” she said. “Part of it is just the uniqueness and the small population group that will access that benefit.”

Health Insurance Exchange Seeks Public Input on Specifics

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Exchange staff expect that getting specific feedback about particular areas of the exchange will help them craft the exchange

April 2, 2012 -- People have until April 13 to submit responses to Oregon’s health insurance exchange about the top three things they consider most important when choosing a health plan. The exchange launched this survey to get constructive feedback from the public as it begins developing the website that people will use to purchase coverage in 2014.

The exchange staff hopes the answers will guide them to understand how people search for insurance plans, distinguish plans from one another, and their priorities in choosing a plan. Thus far, 65 people have submitted comments.

Miltitary Families May Lose Access to the Regence BlueCross BlueShield Provider Networks

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Recently the Department of Defense awarded that administrative services contract to UnitedHealth, and the decision is under appeal

April 2, 2012 -- The Regence BlueCross BlueShield plans, which have been responsible for the provider network in their four-state region for 418,000 active duty and retired military members and their families, could lose that contract next April after the Department of Defense awarded the TRICARE west region contract to UnitedHealthcare.

Insurance Division Approves 2.2 Percent Rate Increase for Providence

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That rate hike will impact small employers starting August 1 who have about 30,000 employees

April 2, 2012 -- Small employers who have coverage through Providence Health Plans will see their rates climb, on average, by 2.2 percent starting August 1. The rate hike will impact about 30,000 people over nine months, and range between 1.88 and 5.4 percent.

“We're doing all we possibly can to get our rate increases to as low a figure as possible,” said Jack Friedman, CEO of Providence Health Plans.

Committee Creating Community Health Worker Standards Plans to Continue Meeting

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Committee members want to be involved in educating CCOs about community health workers, and continue creating education and training requirements

March 30, 2012—The Non-Traditional Healthcare Workforce Committee, which has been designing standards for community health workers in Oregon, believes it’s important to continue its work to oversee the development of that work force. It intends to ask the Oregon Health Policy Board for permission to become a formal advisory body.

“There’s a lot more work to do,” said Carol Cheney, the committee’s facilitator and equity manager in the Oregon Health Authority’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Commissioner Nick Fish Fosters Community Garden Initiative

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Health outcomes will improve if people have the opportunity to grow their own fruits and vegetables

March 28, 2012 – City Commissioner Nick Fish’s initiative to make another 1,000 garden plots available to Portland residents is going strong. People who participate in this community garden project tend to have healthier diets and no longer have to rely on farm produce for fresh vegetables and fruits.

Currently there are 1,500 gardens in the Portland Community Gardens System, according to Laura Niemi, who coordinates the program for Portland Parks & Recreation. In the past year, five new community gardens were built in Portland.

Guidelines Set for Community Health Workers to Participate in CCOs

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But more work needs to be done to develop the training and education programs

March 26, 2012—Community health workers who will work with coordinated care organizations (CCOs) will be expected to need 80 hours of training and education, but not be licensed, according to recommendations that a subcommittee of the Oregon Healthcare Workforce Committee expects to approve Wednesday.

The committee, called the Non-Traditional HealthCare Workforce Subcommittee, was created by the Oregon Health Policy Board to create standards and guidelines for a state-wide workforce of community health workers.

Germans May Complain But Still Have Better Care Than The U.S.

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Frequently German hospitals have three or four beds per room, but don’t have long waits for surgery

March 26, 2012 – BERLIN -- German healthcare experts, responding to comments made to an initial article in Tthe Lund Report, rejected some of the complaints, but acknowledged that their system isn’t perfect.

Long waits and crowded hospital rooms are not the norm, they say.


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