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Happy anniversary wishes for Oregon’s CCOs

May 2, 2018, 07:00 AM

September marks the fifth anniversary of a major milestone in health care.

Five years ago, Oregon implemented a major change in how it serves Medicaid recipients.

Oregon made great changes when it created the Oregon Health Plan and wanted to expand on that innovation. Oregon brought Medicaid’s physical, mental and oral health care services under the umbrella of 16 regional Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), many of which launched September 2012.

CareOregon is proud of the role that we played in the establishment of Primary Health of Josephine County and Yamhill Community Care Organization, and our continued partnership with Jackson Care Connect, Columbia Pacific CCO, and metro Portland’s Health Share of Oregon.

To gain support from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the CCO experiment, Oregon promised we’d provide better, more effective care to our members, make real progress toward health equity, and keep costs lower than national trends. That promise has been kept.

Between 2013 and 2015, CCOs achieved:

  • One-third fewer hospital readmissions
  • A 50 percent decrease in avoidable emergency room visits
  • A 50 percent increase in members with primary care medical homes, and
  • Savings of $240 million within one two-year period for ER visits by patients with primary care medical homes
  • All while holding annual budget growth to 3.4 percent, compared to 6.5 percent nationally

What do CCOs mean to the people—the friends and neighbors we serve?

Consider the Oregonians gaining relief from chronic pain without the risk of opioid medications, as CCOs offer alternative models of treatment.

Consider the families that now see improvement in the loved ones whose physical and mental health care is better coordinated as their whole health is considered. Or those whose children avoid the pain and negative health impacts of poor oral health because their pediatricians and dentists now are more closely connected. Or the communities that CCOs have brought together— businesses, governments, nonprofits, schools and citizens—to make them healthier places to live and work.

Last year, our work was rewarded when CMS authorized the continuance of the CCO program for another five years. In five years, we’ll be celebrating the 10-year anniversary. We look forward to looking back at the innovations and improvements that we are just beginning.

At CareOregon, our work directly with four CCOs and their communities across the state serves approximately one quarter of Oregon Health Plan members. It has been an exciting and innovative five years. We expect the next five years also will be, and we are happy to be a vital part of health care transformation in Oregon.

Eric C. Hunter

President and CEO, CareOregon