Christine Vestal of Stateline.org reports that coordinated care organizations would establish local health-care teams to combine medical and dental services with behavioral-health and substance-abuse services. Preventive care will be offered and those on Medicaid will get help navigating the system. Services provided will be varied and include everything from giving young pregnant women rides to receive prenatal care, translating for non-English speakers, and providing depression counseling.
All services will be provided to people under a fixed fee per customer. The groups will be licensed and monitored by the state, but governed by a local board containing health care providers, consumers and local government officials. Kitzhaber told Vestal that even though the program seems expensive, it will actually save the state "a considerable amount of money" because patients will be healthier and need less care and it will be more efficient.
The program will provide care to Medicaid beneficiaries first, then teachers and state employees. Universities and small businesses may join the program later. Vestal reports the plan's backers hope the program will eventually be able to provide care to anyone who wants it. To reach that point, the viability of the plan will be tested by measures of whether or not coordinated care organizations improve health outcomes, save money and please consumers. Right now, the plan has unanimous support in the Oregon legislature. The state is awaiting federal waivers needed to implement it. (Read more)