Oregon Medicaid Waiver Includes Boost For Rural Health

Jul 10, 2012
Originally published on July 9, 2012 5:08 pm

A new federal waiver for Oregon includes a provision aimed at luring doctors to small towns. The state won final approval Monday from the Obama administration for plans to move ahead with big changes in health care.

The federal waiver is good for five years, and it was expected. It removes one of the last regulatory hurdles for Oregon to overhaul the way it delivers health care to low income people.

The new strategy gives local health care providers more flexibility in how they spend federal Medicaid dollars. The new agreement also funds a program to help physicians pay off their student loans if they agree to set up shop in rural or other underserved areas.

Scott Eckblad directs the Oregon Office of Rural Health. He says doctors are practically an economic development tool in remote communities.

Anyone who's operating a business, whether it's for their own family members or for their employees, they want to be able to assure them that there is good quality health care in the community."

The waiver comes with nearly $2 billion in federal cash. In return, the feds say Oregon needs to reduce its growth of Medicaid expenses by 2 percent over the next two years.

On the Web:

Oregon health care overhaul: http://health.oregon.gov/

Oregon Office of Rural Health:

http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/outreach/oregon-rural-health/index.cfm/

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