By Rory Noble
News & Features Editor
The May 13 hearing on HB 2922, the Health Care for All Oregon Act, did little to bring opposition and supporters closer together.
Citizens and health care professionals on either side of the issue offered testimonials for the legislators present to consider. The bill, according to Jim Kreider of HCAO, is not likely to move very far at this time.
Kreider said, “This is not a good time for this bill to come up. With the push for the CCOs by the governor, he doesn’t want to see this brought up now.”
The coordinated care organizations currently in Oregon offer a network of health care providers for physical, mental and addiction care. Some also offer dental care. These networks agreed to work with local communities to serve those who receive care through the Oregon Health Plan.
The CCOs are focused more on preventative care and helping OHP members with chronic conditions such as diabetes. HB 2922 presented similar ideas that help support people to be healthier and lower emergency room visits.
With the creation of these new care organizations, Kreider said that he understands it will take time to see how things develop. The main objective of a single-payer system, like HB 2922, is to reduce overall health cost by “taking a more holistic approach to health care.” The CCO has the same objective.
One obstacle for the HCAO group and HB 2922 is that legislators wanted to see data on costs within the system. Kreider said, “They want to know what it costs the taxpayer, and we do too. Our group, from looking at different states and data, say that it’s going to save a lot of money.”
“But each state is unique,” Kreider added, “and until you do an analysis for that state, we don’t know what the outcome is going to be.” Since CCOs treat patients currently covered by the OHP, data is already available as to some of the costs and potential savings.
House Bill 3260 would allow between $250,000 and $600,000 in private funds to study the best way to implement universal health care in Oregon. The bill passed unanimously earlier this year through the House Health Committee.
The study would focus on different options to provide health care, including a single-payer plan and a public option plan. A basic health care plan is also included in the study. This basic plan would cover people who could not qualify for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.
For more information on coordinated care organizations in Oregon, visit http://www.oregon.gov/oha/OHPB/pages/health-reform/ccos.aspx.
For more information on HCAO and its efforts, visit hcao.org.