By editorial board • 

New experiment seeks to improve health care

This week is the beginning of an experiment to greatly improve how the public manages health care

This week is the beginning of an experiment that organizers hope will greatly improve how the public manages health care.

The Yamhill County Care Organization officially began services on Thursday, serving the roughly 16,000 Oregon Health Plan members in the county. The change comes on the heels of a state mandate for every county to create such an organization, which brings myriad local health care resources to the same table.

We optimistically believe the experiment will produce successes on some, if not many, levels. The three-pronged goal of the YCCO is to improve health in the community, offer better patient care and reduce health care costs. The initial step is to assign a primary care physician to every person on Medicaid. Most members already have a physician, thus won’t be seeing any immediate changes.

An overriding mission for the program is to change the culture of how health care is delivered, moving from one of competing interests to one of community cohesion. That may conjure images of single-payer health care, especially to critics. But it’s more an effort to make the most of the resources we have.

If the experiment works as planned, all local players in the health care community will retain their individual goals, missions and objectives while simultaneously contributing to the values and the newly forming culture of the YCCO. Ideally, the new culture will increase the efficiency of each individual provider while serving the greater good of the YCCO.

That’s a big “if.” But we believe we have the local health care professionals needed to produce positive results: the managers of the county Health and Human Services, the forward-thinking leaders of Willamette Valley Medical Center, staff at the Virginia Garcia Clinic and the many representatives of local nonprofits working at the ground level. As Dan Ordyna, chief executive officer of WVMC, put it, the people working on this in Yamhill County want solutions to the problem, not to be part of the problem.

These changes won’t happen without challenges, but change is needed. Emergency room bills continue to raise public health care costs because OHP members don’t have a structured health care regimen.

With local organizations working together in the new program, we hope they can improve health care for individuals and the community.

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