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State Seeks Feedback on New Health Care Law 

Central Oregonians have an opportunity to weigh in on the future of the state's health care safety net this week in Bend. The forum, which is presented by the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Health Policy Board, is one of several community input meetings that are taking place across the state as public health care managers attempt to reinvent how the state delivers health service to its poorest residents. Policy makers want to hear from the public about the centerpiece of that initiative, a new state law that requires communities around Oregon to develop an integrated health care delivery system that will help low-income patients more effectively and efficiently navigate the labyrinth of modern health care. The law, which was passed with bi-partisan support, will create locally based "coordinated care organizations" that could result in significant savings for the Oregon Health Plan which provides health care to more than 640,000 low-income Oregonians.

The brainchild of Gov. Kitzhaber, a former emergency room physician, the coordinated care organization model is intended to both streamline health care delivery by putting a continuum of health-care related services, including physical, mental and dental care, under one organizational tent. Supporters say the approach will eliminate duplication of services and help steer more dollars into prevention, reducing the need for costly medical interventions, including emergency room visits.

However, the state has yet to spell out exactly how the new coordinated care organizations would function within the existing system and how they would interact with patients. The community meetings are designed to provide policy makers with some of those ideas, which will be drawn from input gathered from patients, businesses and community members. Previous meetings around the state have drawn hundreds of people to the forums that include representatives from the local health care community already working to integrate the changes into their practices.

The forum is free and open to the public.

Community Health Care Meeting

Thurs. Oct. 6, 6-8 p.m. Riverhouse Convention Center, 2850 NW Rippling River Ct.

information, www.oregon.gov/oha

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