Win tickets to Evergreen State Fair concert
The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions

Fewer ER visits for Ore. Medicaid patients, report shows

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Jonathan J. Cooper
Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. ó People on the Oregon Health Plan are making fewer visits to the emergency room and more visits to primary care clinics, according to a new report on Oregonís year-old coordinated care organizations.
The Oregon Health Authority says the report shows Gov. John Kitzhaberís overhaul of the state Medicaid program is achieving its goals in reducing unnecessary use of the emergency room.
But the figures donít allow for a definitive conclusion about whether the coordinated care organizations are responsible for the shifts. The report looked only at Medicaid patients, so itís unclear if the results were substantially better than other segments of the health care market.
Oregon Health Plan members made 13 percent fewer ER visits in the first nine months of 2013 when compared with 2011. Every coordinated care organization saw a reduction, although the level varied widely. Hospitalizations for chronic conditions also dropped by 32 percent for heart failure, 46 percent for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 18 percent for adult asthma.
The number of primary-care visits jumped 16 percent in the year after coordinated care organizations launched.
Kitzhaber persuaded Oregon lawmakers to create coordinated care organizations to oversee physical health, mental health and dental care for patients in their area. The Obama administration gave Oregon nearly $2 billion over five years to keep the Medicaid system afloat while the coordinated care organizations ramp up their operations. In exchange, the state has promised to save at least as much money over the following five years.
The 16 coordinated care organizations have more flexibility to care for patients, but they must stick within strict funding limits. Proponents hope the combination of more flexibility and limited funding will encourage the coordinated care organizations to find new ways to reduce avoidable hospital visits. Some are hiring case workers to actively ensure patients are following treatment plans or to intervene with patients who frequently visit emergency rooms.
The report looked at the use of ERs by Medicaid patients before and after the coordinated care organizations were created.
A study published last month found that patients newly covered under Oregonís Medicaid program made 40 percent more emergency room visits in the first two years compared with others who didnít gain coverage. The study by researchers at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere looked at a period before Oregon created coordinated care organizations.

More Northwest Headlines


HeraldNet Headlines

Top stories and breaking news updates


Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus