OHSU President Robertson on today’s Supreme Court decision

Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., OHSU president

Oregon Health & Science University President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., sent this message to OHSU employees on Thursday, June 27, 2012.

Today the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision on the Affordable Care Act, largely upholding the law. The ruling will require additional analysis but the most vital outcome is that there is now a mechanism in place for achieving universal coverage.

Coverage for all Americans not only improves outcomes for individuals and communities, it’s absolutely vital to address the growing cost of health care. The first and most important of OHSU’s eight essential principles for reform, adopted in early 2009, is universal access to a defined set of health care benefits. Today is an important victory but, of course, the hard work lies ahead, and OHSU and other academic health centers have a vital role to play.

With more than 30 million newly insured Americans about to enter the health care system, addressing the nation’s provider workforce shortages takes on greater significance than ever. The Collaborative Life Sciences Building will help increase class sizes, as well as foster inter-professional education, but we will have to continue to work with the state and other partners to find innovative ways to expand the workforce pipeline.

OHSU is also deeply involved in Governor Kitzhaber’s innovative plan for health care reform in Oregon, known as Transformation. The $1.9 billion agreement with the Obama Administration, an investment in the Governor’s plan, is still on track and a reminder that Oregon is well ahead of other states in implementing reform. Transformation, built around the establishment of new Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), is being implemented at this moment. The Tri-County Medicaid Collaborative (TCMC), of which OHSU is a partner, is expected to serve as the CCO for the Portland metropolitan area. The TCMC received provisional certification from the state and expects to begin enrolling patients Sept. 1.

Oregon is asking each CCO to provide integrated care for its members, focused on prevention, and managed within a global budget. This will be an evolutionary process, with mistakes and ample opportunity to learn. But the commitment to change is unwavering, as is the expectation that innovations modeled through the CCO process will eventually be adopted by the commercial market, further bending down the cost curve. I see this as a true partnership between Oregon and the federal government, with both sides deeply committed to seeing Transformation succeed.

With universal coverage upheld, I believe the eyes of the nation will be on Oregon to see if Transformation can take the next step in health reform – improve community health and quality of care while reducing costs. There is hard work ahead, but I believe Oregon and OHSU are up to the job.

4 responses to “OHSU President Robertson on today’s Supreme Court decision

  1. Great perspective Dr. Robertson. America spends more money (as a percent of GDP) than any other country in the world while ranking 37 out of 191 in overall health care quality. This is a step in the right direction to reduce costs and improve community health. Big thumbs up to OHSU!

  2. I am overjoyed that the Affordable Care Act was upheld. I am extremely proud to work for such compassionate, progressive, and well respected organization such as OHSU. Thank you for your leadership, Dr. Robertson!

  3. Exactly what is reform? To me it is apparently turning healthcare into a large corporate entity, another bureaucracy. I have been trying to get a resolution to my grievances at OHSU and I find that any one person can make a decision unilaterally with impunity. Dr. Robertson seems to be completely unreachable. This is the kind of arrogance that has infected corporate America and is becoming more and more prevalent in healthcare. Simply reducing costs is not reforming healthcare. It must be a transformation of the idea as well.

    1. Joseph: That’s certainly one perspective about health reform, though there are obviously many others. The proof will be in how it gets worked out, and early signs for that—for example, through entities like the Tri-County Medicaid Collaborative, the Portland metro-area’s coordinated care organization—seem to be moving in a positive direction.

      Regarding issues about care you’ve received at OHSU, concerns are typically handled by our Patient Relations staff members, who are highly trained and able to quickly engage the appropriate individuals anywhere at OHSU. Please do feel free to continue to be in dialogue with staff in that department, who can also direct you appropriately if they’re unable to assist. It looks like you’ve also raised some concerns on our Facebook page, and the email address provided for you there is a good one for sharing your concerns.


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