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Kitzhaber wants more preventive care in improved health care system

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Gov. John Kitzhaber explains his health care plan to a small crowd in the Beaverton High School Auditorium. The main problem with the United State’s $2.8 trillion health care system, says Gov. John Kitzhaber, is that so little of it pertains to keeping people healthy.

“A lot of money is being spent in the system that’s not being used for health,” the physician-turned-governor told an audience Tuesday evening in the Beaverton High School Auditorium. “We have a system in which all the incentives are based on acute care with very little money spent on prevention. Of that $2.8 trillion, most of it goes to take care of people getting sick. We need to invest those dollars to help people be healthy.”

The governor spoke to a moderate-sized but attentive audience who gathered for a Town Hall meeting hosted by state Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton.

Focused primarily on changes to the state and federal health care and insurance coverage systems, the state leaders also touched on issues from tax reform to education funding during the hour-long exchange as they responded to submitted questions.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - State Sen. Mark Hass and Gov. John Kitzhaber listen as Alice Bartelt from the League of Women Voters poses a question from the audience during a health care discussion Tuesday night at Beaverton High School. Throughout the engagement, Kitzhaber, a Democrat, promoted Oregon’s fledgling Coordinated Care Organization model, in which a network of various health care providers join forces to focus on the individual needs of the 600,000 patients in the Oregon Health Plan.

The system aims to streamline and eliminate fragmented treatment approaches for patients who require care involving different health care branches such as physical, mental and therapeutic.

With initial federal funding of $620 million and $1.9 billion during the next five years, the state’s first coordinated care organizations rolled out Aug. 1. Five more are being introduced this month with the goal of 13 organizations serving 33 counties and 500,000 adults and children in the Oregon Health Plan, according to literature from the Oregon Health Authority.

Kitzhaber said he sees the coordinated care approach providing a model for the rest of the country while ultimately saving dollars that could be channeled to other needs.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - A small crowd attended a Town Hall meeting with Gov. John Kitzhaber and state Sen. Mark Hass on Tuesday night.“I believe this can save literally billions of dollars,” he said. “The federal government gave us $1.9 billion, and they stand to save a total of about $10 billion. That’s a pretty good return on an investment. In Oregon, I hope that can be reinvested in things like education.”

The online health care forum ModernHealthcare.com recently named Kitzhaber No. 3 in its list of the 100 most influential people in health care for 2012, coming in behind Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini but ahead of President Obama.