5 Things Oregon: “Low value” care report, Behavioral health policy, Key meetings

Our Convening Panel met yesterday ahead of our 2020 Oregon State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference. This year’s event will offer some unique tools customized to the State of Reform experience, where we hope to continue to foster the kind of content, networking, and conversations that play a central part of our value proposition in health care.

We’ll open our registration in the weeks ahead, but if you have ideas about speakers or content, now is a great time to drop me a note. We’ll add your thinking to the mix.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. 40% of services found to be “low value”

The Oregon Health Leadership Council and the Oregon Health Authority on Monday released a report evaluating opportunities to reduce low value care in Oregon’s health system. The report examined 47 common treatments, tests, or procedures known to be overused within the medical community over a three-year period (2016 – 2018) for commercial, Medicaid, and Medicare lines of business.

Of the over 9.56 million services evaluated, 40% were found to be “low value” and nearly $530 million (32% of spending) was spent on “low value” care. The report also identifies the top 15 “low value” procedures, tests, or treatments based on utilization. At the top of the list is opioids prescribed for low back pain during the first four weeks. These measures, reads the report, are good places to start when it comes to selecting targeted interventions to reduce this type of care.


2. GBHAC discusses policy option package

The Governor’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council (GBHAC) held a meeting on Monday to review and provide feedback on the council’s policy option package. The $200 million investment ($100 million in general funds) proposal focuses on three policy areas – housing, workforce, and programs & services – and adds a fourth section on youth and young adults.

The recommendations include developing a behavioral health workforce incentive fund to serve marginalized and/or rural communities, establishing a State Certified Community Behavioral Clinic Program, and increasing tenant-based rental assistance for low barrier housing. Due to COVID, the council was unable to finalize the recommendations in time to prepare them for the OHA’s request budget, but they note OHA included pieces and placeholders in their request related to GBHAC’s work. The group says the package of recommendations can still be refined and amended in the Governor’s budget request.

3. $62 million to support Black relief and resiliency

The Legislative Emergency Board approved over $200 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars yesterday to support Oregonians impacted by the pandemic. The funding is slated to assist small businessessupport music and community venues, and fund $500 Emergency Relief Checks for Oregonians will waiting for unemployment benefits.

The largest portion of the funding ($62 million) will go to the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency to support Black Oregonians who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus from a health and economic perspective. “This pandemic has distilled the reality that we are only as resilient as the most vulnerable communities in our society. It is far past time to call out the needs of and provide a lifeline to Black Oregonians,” said Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence in a press release from the BIPOC Caucus.

4. Video: Ted Quinn, Activate Care

Ted Quinn is the CEO and Co-founder of Activate Care (formerly ACT.md). Activate Care is a nationally recognized provider of community care coordination and referral management technology. Quinn joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss focused treatment of social determinants.

“If everything’s a priority, nothing’s a priority. And so you’ve got to focus and say, what is the needle we can move on first? So, a lot of these programs will focus on homelessness or employment or food insecurity, believing that if they tackle that one issue, all the other issues are related and they’ll be able to address many of them over time. But it starts by setting meaningful goals with the individual and then trying to work that issue to a different outcome.”


5. Noteworthy meetings today, this week

We have our eye on several health-related meetings on the agenda in the coming days. This morning at 10am, the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) Institutional Bias Subcommittee will hold a meeting. Then at 2pm the SHIP Behavioral Health Subcommittee will meet.

Also this afternoon, at 12:30 pm OHA will hold a Facebook Live Q&A on COVID-19 data. And following a series of cancelled meetings, the Legislature’s Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care is scheduled to hold a meeting a week from today at 1pm.