The New Year brings good news to more than 130,000 Oregonians who are now enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan. And so far an estimated 18,000 Oregonians have enrolled through Cover Oregon for private coverage beginning January 1. I think by the time we are finished we could have close to 150,000 total January enrollees, which is just about equal to the population of Salem.
I know getting all these people enrolled has meant hard work and long hours for hundreds of people. Many OHA and DHS employees worked nights and weekends to make it happen. I want to thank them and also their families and friends who may have seen a little less of our staff than they would like over the holidays. They, too, should get credit for what was accomplished in Oregon in 2013.
In every part of Oregon today people are more secure economically and have access to health care that they didn’t have before. This is a historic accomplishment.
And this accomplishment builds on the work we have done over the past few years to create the coordinated care model for better health, better care and lower costs.
Some of you may have seen a national study using 2008 information that was released earlier this week showing that when people gain Medicaid coverage there is increased emergency department use. The study was done using the Oregon Health Plan’s so-called “lottery” population.
The story in Oregon today is a different one than five years ago and it points the direction for other states that are expanding their Medicaid programs. With the coordinated care model we believe we can mitigate or even neutralize any upticks in unnecessary hospital use and increase primary care use. Look at what we’ve seen so far: Our most recent Health System Transformation Report shows that through the coordinated care organizations, emergency department visits decreased by 9 percent from 2011 levels. Hospitalizations for congestive heart failure have dropped by 29 percent. Meanwhile, primary care visits for Oregonians served by coordinated care organizations increased 18 percent.
Health care coverage isn’t enough. That’s why in Oregon we are taking the approach that if you provide the right care at the right time in the right place, you can create a more sustainable and successful health care system.
I know we will get there.
PS: If you know of anyone who is new to the Oregon Health Plan and would like more information on how to use it, here is a resources page for new members.