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Governor Kitzhaber in D.C. to Stress the Role States Play in Driving National Health Care Reform

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Governor Kitzhaber today called on Congress to reframe the debate over Medicaid, Medicare and the national debt and look to states for new models to improve health care while reducing cost in a keynote address to the 2011 Medicaid Managed Care Conference in Washington D.C.

"My point is that Congress is debating the wrong thing," said Governor Kitzhaber. "This is not a financing problem. It is a deep, systemic problem. And successfully addressing it requires no less transformational change -- change that cannot be accomplished by limiting ourselves to incremental tinkering within the context and constraints of the deeply flawed structure of the current system."

The Governor emphasized the need to focus on the "triple aim" of improving the health of the population; reducing per capita cost; and improving the patient experience -- in terms of outcomes, safety and satisfaction.

"Doing things differently - transforming the system - involves reorganizing the delivery system to get at the root causes of medical inflation: overutilization; the lack of true prevention; and poor service integration and care coordination between the acute and post-acute system," Governor Kitzhaber said. "There is clear waste and inefficiency in the system and as a state - and a nation - we cannot afford to pay for it anymore."

The Governor used Oregon examples to describe the success that can be achieved in reducing costs and reducing reliance on the emergency department for non-emergency care by using a team-based approach that integrates physical and mental health care. He also pointed to bipartisan support for health care transformation legislation in Oregon as hope for a new approach at the federal level.

"This legislative session we stopped kicking the can down the road and instead created a budget and structural reforms in Medicaid that will do things differently. And that is exactly what we need to do with the Medicare program as well," said Governor Kitzhaber.

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