Governor Brown announces committee to address rising health care costs

Today, Governor Kate Brown announced the membership of a committee to control the cost of health care for Oregonians. The committee will set an annual target for health care spending growth and recommend enforcement tools to hold the health care system accountable for meeting the target.


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“All Oregonians should have access to the health care services they need to live healthy and productive lives,” said Governor Brown. “Oregon’s community-based approach to health care, which covers 94 percent of adults and 100 percent of Oregon children, is a model for the nation. But if we do not control the rising costs of health care, too many Oregon families, particularly those in historically underserved communities, will again find the care they need is beyond their reach.”

Research shows that Oregonians pay more for health care and have higher deductibles than residents in other states. Between 2010 and 2016, Oregon household income grew by 15 percent, while employer-sponsored health care premiums grew by 25 percent and deductibles for families grew by 77 percent. Oregon has the third-highest health insurance deductibles in the country and is in the top ten highest states for family budgets spent on out-of-pocket hospital costs.

Oregon has already established a 3.4 percent growth rate for public programs, but there isn’t a similar target for the private market, where almost half of Oregonians get their health insurance.

“Rising health care costs mean less money for wages, retirement, and other public investments like housing and education,” said Jeremy Vandehey, director of health policy at the Oregon Health Authority. “A critical step in containing health care costs is bringing everyone to the table to set a common cost growth target that all insurance companies, hospitals, and health care providers have to stay within.”

This citizen and stakeholder led implementation committee, selected by Governor Brown and under the supervision of the Oregon Health Policy Board, was established by Senate Bill 889 , passed during the 2019 legislative session. In addition to setting an annual target for costs, the committee will also provide recommendations for the Legislature to adopt in 2021 on how entities with unreasonable cost increases will be held accountable.

The Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target is modeled after a program in Massachusetts that has saved $5.5 billion for consumers between 2013 and 2016. Rhode Island and Delaware have also adopted similar programs.

Implementation Committee for Oregon’s Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target program:

• Patrick Allen, Director, Oregon Health Authority
• Kraig Anderson, Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary, Moda Health
• Kathryn Correia, President and CEO, Legacy Health
• Angela Dowling, President, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon
• Dr. Kevin Ewanchyna (Vice-Chair), Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Samaritan Health Services; President of the Oregon Medical Association
• Jack Friedman (Chair)
• Jessica Gomez, CEO, Rogue Valley Microdevices
• Felisa Hagins, Political Director, SEIU Local 49
• Ruby Haughton, State Director, AARP Oregon
• Dr. K. John McConnell, Director, OHSU Center for Health Systems Effectiveness
• Mark McMullen, Oregon State Economist, Office of Economic Analysis, DAS
• William Olson, Chief Operating Officer, Providence Health and Services
• Jordan Papé, CEO, Papé Group
• Ken Provencher, President and CEO, PacificSource Health Plans
• Shanon Saldivar, Chamness Saldivar Agency; Vice-Chair of Marketplace Advisory Committee
• Cameron Smith, Director, Department of Consumer and Business Services
• Jenny Smith, Chief Financial Officer, Kaiser Permanente Northwest
• Jenn Welander, Chief Financial Officer, St. Charles Health System