Kitzhaber: Live State of the Union 'remarkable'
By JONATHAN J. COOPER
Of the Associated Press
SALEM — Gov. John Kitzhaber said Wednesday it was “an interesting experience” to watch President Barack Obama's State of the Union address from one of the best seats in the House.
Kitzhaber was one of about two dozen guests invited by White House officials to watch Tuesday night's speech with first lady Michelle Obama.
“It was actually quite an interesting experience, sitting up in the gallery just to the left of the podium there, and being able to look down and see the entire United States House, the U.S. Senate mingling around down there,” Kitzhaber told The Associated Press by phone from Washington. “It's pretty remarkable.”
Kitzhaber didn't speak with the president, but he said the Obama administration is interested in Oregon's efforts to create a new model for delivering health care at a lower cost.
Kitzhaber says Oregon will save millions on Medicaid, the health care program for low-income Americans jointly funded by the state and federal government, by improving preventive care and finding new ways to pay doctors and hospitals.
Obama didn't specifically address Oregon or Kitzhaber in his speech, but he did echo Kitzhaber's health care goals, saying new payment models are needed to reduce the cost of Medicare.
“We'll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn't be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital,” Obama said Tuesday night. “They should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.”
Kitzhaber said he's hopeful other states will adopt Oregon's health care reforms, which he says could help reduce the federal deficit as Congress looks at reforming entitlement programs.
“Although nobody has looked me in the eye and said this, I think the fact that they invited me back there is a signal and an indication of the interest in this,” Kitzhaber said.