OSU to Study Oregon Health Plan Impact

cdc2While poor and low income residents of many states have been left to the vagaries of healthcare.gov, those in Oregon have been met with acceptance into the Oregon Health Plan.

In order to better understand the effect that this expansion will have on the overall healthiness of Oregonians, the CDC has awarded a 1.25 million dollar grant to the Oregon Health Authority and OSU to study its impact.

While the expansion is laudable, and brings Oregon in line with other Western developed nations, there exists a dearth of hard data to suggest that such an expansion will have an overall effect on the general healthiness of residents of the state.

To that end the study will create an integrated state level system to link anonymized Medicaid information with other health data from hospitals.

Such a database will enable future researchers, policy makers, and healthcare practitioners to draw conclusions about the effect of expanding the population eligible for the Oregon Health Plan in terms of how residents make use of services and their outcomes, specifically among women and children.

Given the extraordinary cost associated with not having access to primary care physicians and regular health care, via exacerbation of treatable conditions due to a lack of preventative care and thus usage of emergency rooms, this study will illuminate whether the up front costs of the expansion improve overall health outcomes and thus reduce usage of other more expensive services.

Endorsed by the Governor, the study will also help to determine the efficacy of Oregon’s coordinated care program. “Oregon is an ideal state to conduct this study because of its ongoing commitment to Medicaid health care delivery for all, and the commitment of state leaders to collaborate to ensure this program’s success,” said Harvey, associate dean for research in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and one of the grant’s principal investigators.

by William Tatum