A lot of our recent work in health care has been fast-paced and behind-the-scenes. I wanted to take a moment to share what it is we’ve been working on.
The main topic of discussion in health care is new organizations called “Coordinated Care Organizations,” also known as CCOs. These CCOs are community-based organizations (sort of like CIO) that provide medical care to patients. This medical care is supposed to integrate or unite physical health (treating people when they’re sick or working with people to prevent illness), behavioral health (mental health services), and dental care. The problem right now is that our health care system is fragmented, and there’s not a lot of dialogue between different kinds of doctors. These new CCOs will change that by facilitating communication between providers, to better help patients.
At first, these CCOs will serve people on the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s health care system for low-income folks. The vision of the state, though, is that these CCOs will be a model for transforming ALL of Oregon’s health care system.
Why is CIO involved in advocacy around these CCOs? Well, we view this new model as an excellent way to promote health equity. In fact, organizations that want to become CCOs will have to have a plan to reduce health disparities and improve health equity. There are a few ways they do this:
- First, the CCOs are required to work with the state health department to develop standards for improving health equity, and to include community representatives as part of their governing boards of directors.
- Second, CCOs will have to collect and track data about patients’ race, ethnicity, and native language, which allows advocacy groups to better understand and eliminate health disparities suffered by our communities.
- Third, and maybe most importantly, CCOs are required to promote culturally and linguistically competent care, including working with community-based health workers to improve the health of all communities.
CCOs by themselves won’t solve all of the disparities our communities experience. That’s a challenge that ALL of us have to undertake: community groups like CIO, health care providers and CCOs, the state health department, and members of the community: you. By working together, sharing stories, understanding the issues, and continue to push our state to promote health equity, we can make sure that all of us have the chance to be happy & healthy.
We’ll keep updating you about the work we’re doing – and I’d like to invite you to get involved. We want our work to be rooted in the community, and for that, we need you. Please call me at 503-287-4117 ext. 106 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about engagement opportunities.