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Think Out Loud

Health Care Changes

Pete Springer/OPB

It’s been nearly a year since President Obama signed hard fought health care legislation into law. One of the key components of the federal legislation is a mandate for states to set up health insurance exchanges. That’s what Senate Bill 99 in the Oregon legislature would do. It’s one part of the overall plan that the newly created Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is pushing for, and the state recently won a $48 million grant to do it. 

Some of the bills working their way through the state capitol deal with keeping health insurance rates down. And there’s an  single payer bill that has garnered a lot of enthusiasm even though its sponsor, Mike Dembrow, says it’s going nowhere this session.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority has been convening a group that is taking on nothing less than the transformation of the health care system in the state. The idea is to bring the cost of care down while making sure all Oregonians have access to health care. OHA director Bruce Goldberg says in order to do that the state needs to make a major economic and cultural shift.

One pilot program that could be pointing the way is in Lebanon. Dr. Rick Wopat runs the Samaritan Lebanon Medical Home, where a team of providers cares for patients and the idea is to save money by keeping them healthy, rather than simply treating them when they are sick. Wopat says the project’s just getting started but he’s optimistic about its future.

Are you happy with your health care coverage? What do you need that you’re not getting? Is your health care affordable? Is it comprehensive? What changes to the health care system would you like to see in Oregon?


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