Guest column: Health care leadership needed for a healthier Oregon

By Knute Buehler

The Bulletin

As a doctor, when someone comes to me for care, I do not ask if they are Republican, Democrat or Independent, I listen to their concerns and then go to work trying to solve their problem.

It is the same approach I have taken as a lawmaker and will continue as governor.

Oregon was once a leader in health care innovation and delivery of Medicaid services. Today we are known for scandals, lawsuits, mismanagement and waste.

As governor, I will restore Oregon’s leadership and innovation in health care and protect Oregonians from the uncertainties of federal health care politics.

I will be a voice and advocate for Oregon Medicaid families, for those struggling with mental illness, for people fighting drug addiction, and for women concerned about their reproductive health care.

We released six big important goals to recapture a sense of shared purpose, innovation and collaboration for a healthier Oregon.

1. Reclaim Oregon’s national Medicaid leadership.

I will defend Medicaid from federal cuts.

I will lead to put the state’s largest program on stable financial footing, so that the Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO) who administer it can make long-term investments in social determinants of health, so our fellow citizens who need Medicaid can count on it and the taxpayers who fund it, can have confidence in it.

2. Every Oregonian who needs mental health care will get it.

Mental health is perhaps our greatest health care challenge, and yet for too long it has been in the shadows.

I will make integrating mental health with physical health a top priority and reorganize administration of State mental health programs to make that happen.

3. Cut opioid-related deaths in half.

The opioid crisis touches people from every walk of life. It has become a public health and a public safety crisis.

By bolstering addiction treatment and focusing public-health prevention that is carefully designed to reach and teach kids before they use dangerous drugs will help us turn the tide.

4. Support women’s health care and reproductive rights.

I will ensure that Oregon remains a pro-choice State and the landmark law that I wrote, providing over-the-counter access to prescription birth control, is fully implemented.

And decrease the unintended pregnancy rate by another 25 percent over the next five years.

5. Ensure that children in Oregon arrive at school healthy and ready to learn.

Too many kids have trouble learning because they aren’t well enough.

Nearly half of Oregon children are enrolled in Medicaid.

I will work with our CCO community and providers to lead Oregon to be among the top five States in wellness and dental checkups for school-age children — critical measures on which today we rank near the bottom.

6. Drive down the cost of care, starting with prescription drugs.

I will empower the attorney general to prosecute price gougers and lead adoption of a single formulary, so we can negotiate better drug prices for all State-funded health programs.

Health care is not a luxury — it’s a basic human need.

As governor, this principle will guide me in making decisions to ensure that every Oregonian, no matter your age, income or health, has access to quality and affordable care.

Read the original article via The Bulletin here.

Contribute Today

Together, we can build a brighter future for Oregon.