Officials say Oregon’s health care system remains in flux with many needs


State legislators and other officials on the front lines of health care policy shared their views at CCO Oregon’s annual conference Thursday, urging system leaders — and the state’s next governor — to maintain a steady hand in addressing a range of complex needs.

The need to improve programs and funding has been a major focus as the legislature prepares to meet for its long session in 2023.

Nearly 300 people gathered for the conference in person for the first time since 2019. Membership of CCO Oregon includes health care providers and coordinated care organizations, which contract with the state to provide coverage to members of the Oregon Health Plan.

The meetings took place at a time of turmoil and change.

The state is preparing to resume federally imposed eligibility checks that will take an estimated 300,000 people off Oregon health plan rolls. Staff shortages are fueling hospitals’ capacity crisis.

Meanwhile, the federal government recently approved changes to the program including expanded coverage for children under six and new spending on health-related needs such as housing and food.

Meanwhile, the state’s behavioral health system has seen its share of problems, from A slow offering of 1 billion dollars From the new money to Oregon Hospital Admission Problemsa state-run residential psychiatric facility.

It featured two sessions of lawmakers who talked about health care and behavioral health. At the Behavioral Health Committee, when asked about the upcoming legislative session, Tawna Sanchez, D-North and Northeast Portland said the state needs to find ways to stay focused on the 2021 session, which has put more than $1 billion in workforce, new programs and facilities to grow the system. Another priority, Sanchez said: The state needs to increase reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers to support better wages.

Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem, agreed, saying it was critical for behavioral health providers to have pay parity with other providers.

Senator Kate Lieber, Democrat of Beaverton, said the state’s strained workforce also needs attention.

“We should reduce the burden of cases on people,” Lieber said. “We have to find out.”

Lieber said the state needs to reduce the administrative burden on behavioral health providers so they can spend more time with patients.

Dana Heatel, director of the interim Medicaid program at the Oregon Health Authority, agreed. “I don’t want behavioral health clinicians to spend 90% of the day” on paperwork, Hettle said.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Nan Waller said people need more places to go in times of crisis besides prison. Waller said it’s important that people don’t simply settle down and then be released back into the streets without follow-up support and care.

Waller said a complex issue does not offer a single solution.

“I’m not the witch at how to do it,” she said.

The speakers also discussed the state of the country Agree to waiver of an Oregon health care plan, announced on Wednesday. The plan includes $2 billion in new federal funding with a guarantee of continuous enrollment for children under 6, a two-year enrollment period for people over 6 and flexibility to spend $1.1 billion of that money on housing, food, and climate-related services.

“Going forward with the next iteration of Liaison Heads, our focus will really be to implement that flexibility that we have achieved through this waiver application,” Hettle said.

Post-pandemic forecast

Another panel of lawmakers considered the future of health care in Oregon.

Representative Rob Nosse, D-Portland and chair of the House Interim Health Care Committee, said the state will face challenges as it works through soon-to-be-resumed eligibility checks that guide who qualifies for the Oregon Health Plan. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal rule has prevented states from running tests, swelling the plan’s rolls to 1.4 million people.

News commended the work done through House Bill 4035which established guidelines for eligibility checks designed to protect the most vulnerable, and also laid the foundation for bridge planTo cover Oregon residents Putting in a lot of effort to qualify for Medicaid-funded OHP But they still struggle to afford care.

“Our state is trying to figure out how to keep people safe,” Nowose said, adding that it would be a “chaotic and difficult” process.

“This will just be a challenge we will face.”

Another tip from Noss: Don’t be afraid to experiment with complex IT deployments, despite the state’s lackluster record on this front.

Noss said the country should “wait a bit” to launch important reforms to the center manager model in light of the many challenges the country is currently facing. “I would say let’s not be in a rush to do it,” Noss said.

Committee members agreed that the challenges of the healthcare workforce have many dimensions. For example, even students who receive full scholarships often cannot attend university because housing is too expensive, said Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, De Woodburn.

Senator Dick Anderson, Republican of Lincoln City, agreed, saying that limited housing prevents people from accepting jobs in his coastal region.

The flip side of that is teacher recruitment. Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-NW Portland/Beaverton, a primary care physician who teaches at Oregon Health & Science University, said faculty salaries should be competitive.

“If we don’t pay our faculty well at every level, how can we expect to get the best and smartest in teaching?” Steiner Hayward said.

She said whoever takes over as Oregon’s governor in January should try “not to make changes too quickly” in the leadership of the Oregon Health Authority.

“Are they perfect? ​​No,” Steiner said Hayward. “Are they good? Yes.”

There’s no need to move quickly, she said: “Don’t fire people right away.”

Rep. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, said affordability must remain a focus.

“We must continue to have these conversations about how to provide affordable and accessible health care,” Campos said.

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or via Twitter Tweet embed.


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