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Kitzhaber Says Health Reforms Could Be A Model For Others

OPB | Feb. 22, 2013 midnight | Updated: June 7, 2013 10:19 a.m.

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Gov. John Kitzhaber is getting a lot of national attention for Oregon’s health care reforms.

He says changes like Oregon’s were implemented across the nation, enough money could be saved to cover the threatened across-the-board budget cuts. 

Back in 2011, Oregon faced a $2 billion dollar shortfall in the Medicaid budget. 

Rather than cut services further, Kitzhaber went to the White House. 

He came back with a deal. Oregon will get $1.9 billion dollars over five years if the state reduces its rate of medical inflation by two percent. Speaking on the radio show “Here and Now,” Kitzhaber said the state is on track to reach that goal by the end of next year — saving the feds about $5 billion dollars. 

He explained, “That’s real money. If we were to apply the same care model to Medicaid and Medicare over the next ten years, the savings would be $1-point-8 trillion dollars. So if you look at the angst over the sequestration, which is sort of a meat-axe to get $1.2 trillion dollars. We could get $1.5 trillion dollars by actually making the population healthier. “

Critics have said Oregon’s reforms just shuffle money around, and don’t cut costs.

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