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State Says Coordinated Health Care Paying Off in Oregon

Fewer Oregonians in hospital beds is one goal of the state's Health System Transformation campaign, and the latest Oregon Health Authority figures indicate it's working. Credit: Chad Hutchinson/iStockphoto.com.
Fewer Oregonians in hospital beds is one goal of the state's Health System Transformation campaign, and the latest Oregon Health Authority figures indicate it's working. Credit: Chad Hutchinson/iStockphoto.com.
June 26, 2015

SALEM, Ore. - Health-care quality is improving for more people in Oregon, according to new figures from the Oregon Health Authority.

Emergency-room visits are down 22 percent since 2011 among Oregon Health Plan members, according to the agency. The goal has been to get people to use Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) for primary care, to treat problems before they end up as hospital emergencies.

The state report said primary-care costs for 2014 were up, but Erin Fair Taylor, director of CCO partnership and development for CareOregon, said that's because the system is working and more people are using it.

"We would rather have our dollars go there," she said, "because it's going to result in cost savings over the long term - because we're not spending them on ED visits or in-patient stays."

The Health System Transformation Report showed that almost 30 percent fewer hospital admissions for diabetes-related complications since baseline numbers in 2011, and 60 percent fewer for asthma and COPD. It said more people have enrolled in CCOs and more have initiated drug and alcohol treatment.

Taylor said Oregon's CCOs had been set up for slightly more than a year when the Affordable Care Act became law, flooding the system with people newly eligible for health coverage. Last year alone, more than 434,000 were added to the Oregon Health Plan. She said that makes the progress in the state's 2014 report all the more impressive.

"It really speaks to Oregonians pulling together. Even when it's really hard, and even when there are lots of external pressures, we're still able to figure out how to perform at a really high level," she said. "So, we should all be very proud of this."

State and federal dollars fund the Oregon Health Plan, which is Oregon's Medicaid system, she said, so CCOs have a responsibility to run their businesses as efficiently as possible and aim for the best health outcomes.

The report is online at oregon.gov/oha/metrics.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR