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Study: Oregon's Medicaid Experiment Is Working


Oregon’s efforts to overhaul health care have been largely successful, according to a new study.

In 2012, the federal government gave Oregon almost $2 billion to improve Medicaid. The state developed 16 coordinated care organizations to oversee the quality of care and reduce costs.

The chairman of the Oregon Health Policy Board, Zeke Smith, said a new independent study — required by the federal government — shows Oregon spent the money wisely.

“When we were being honest about what we could accomplish in the first five years, we figured we’ve got to get more people access to care and we’ve got to make sure that there’s a level of quality in that primary care that’s more consistent across the state,” Smith said. “The report tells us that we did all of those well.”

The study was commissioned by the Oregon Health Authority and conducted by researchers at OHSU’s Center for Health Systems Effectiveness.

“The transformation to the CCO model was associated with significant reductions in the growth of health care spending, an important but elusive goal for most health systems,” Center Director John McConnell said.

McConnell noted that more work remains in Oregon, including integrating behavioral, oral and physical health systems. He also said the state needs to work to reduce prescription drug costs.

“However, the Oregon Health Authority and CCOs have created the infrastructure that may be well suited to address these issues over the next five years,” McConnell said.

Several efforts to control drug costs are also currently underway in Salem, but prescription prices are controlled largely at the federal level.

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