Recommendations To Overhaul Oregon Health Care System
The Oregon Health Fund Board on Monday unanimously adopted recommendations to overhaul the state's health care system and provide coverage to all state residents by 2019, the Oregonian reports. The plan recommends taxing hospitals and health insurers and using the money to extend coverage to the 100,000 uninsured children and about 100,000 low-income uninsured adults by 2013 (Colburn, Oregonian, 11/18).
The taxes would generate an estimated $700 million over the next two years, which would be used to draw down more than $1 billion in federal matching funds.
The plan also would regulate hospital prices and insurance company administrative costs and would increase taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to fund mental health services and public education programs about chronic disease prevention. State and local governments and eventually private insurers would consolidate to create purchasing to negotiate better prices for prescription drugs, insurance and other services. The state also would help doctors and hospitals convert paper records to electronic systems to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Eventually, all state residents would be required to have health insurance and insurers would be required to cover individuals regardless of pre-existing health conditions.
The plan calls for the creation of a nine-member Oregon Health Authority Board, appointed by the governor, that would encourage health care professionals to establish "integrated health homes" and develop new pay structures and reward programs. The state also would establish measures and standards for health care and provide consumers with information about the cost and quality of care.
Barney Speight, executive director of the Oregon Health Fund Board, said most of the recommendations by the board would cost about $5 million to $7 million and generate up to $10 billion in savings over the next 10 years. The board is expected to deliver the plan to Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and legislative leaders on Nov. 25 (Rainey, Oregonian, 11/15).
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