Oregon Leaders Celebrate Federal Money For Medicaid Overhaul

May 3, 2012

The federal government has agreed to pump nearly two billion dollars into Oregon's experiment at changing the way it delivers health care to low income people. The news today came after Governor John Kitzhaber and three other state officials flew to Washington to personally lobby for the cash.

It was the news state officials had been waiting for.  "This is a very big deal for Oregon." Oregon Health Authority director Bruce Goldberg says the $1.9 billion over five years is a game-changer. "We're thrilled. This means we can really move forward with Oregon's health reform. It's a huge deal."

Still to be worked out is a federal waiver that would allow Oregon to actually spend the Medicaid money in the way it chooses. Goldberg says that waiver is on track to be signed by July 1st. The idea is that locally managed health care partnerships would have flexibility to spend health care dollars in creative ways aimed at preventing high-cost hospital care. Fourteen Oregon medical coalitions have applied so far to become what are known as Coordinated Care Organizations.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network