Gov. Kitzhaber signs Oregon Senate health care legislation into law

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law a new health care plan, Senate Bill 1580,@@ last Friday — a bill that will establish provider groups that serve Oregon Health Plan clients.

The goal of this new bill is to establish coordinated-care organizations that would be designed to emphasize prevention and integrate medical, dental and mental health care. They hope to streamline the system and cut unnecessary administrative costs so they can provide better healthcare.

According to Oregon Health Authority spokesperson Karynn Fish,@@ the new bill will not have a major effect on students since most students are not members of the Oregon Health Plan, which is Oregon’s Medicaid program.

Under the current health care system, students can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26.

“You can actually have a job,” said Laura Etherton,@@[email protected]@ Oregon State Public Interest Research Group health care advocate, “and if the coverage in that job isn’t as affordable, you can stay on your parents’ coverage. You don’t want the key thing driving your decision about post-college jobs to be the health benefits.”

Health care after college is a major concern for many@@many? only one is quoted. perhaps ‘some’ would be [email protected]@ University students.

“Right now, I’m lucky because I’m triple covered with two insurances on my dad’s side and one on my mom’s,” University senior journalism major Maya Lazaro said.@@[email protected]@ “I do worry about what will happen when it runs out.”

She supports the state restructuring the health care system to try to help a wider range of Oregon citizens.

“When people are healthier, I think they do better. They’re more productive at work, they’re better family members, they’re better friends,” she said. “I think to have a great functioning society, people need to be healthy.”

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 4164,@@ passed the Senate yesterday morning and was signed into law by Kitzhaber. The law will create a health insurance exchange for individuals and small businesses. The reforms that were passed through were two of Kitzhaber’s main goals for the legislative session.

“We look to the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange, which will come online in 2014, and should make it much easier for individuals and small businesses to be able to afford health care,” Fish said. This program will be a public corporation at the state level @@[email protected]@but will not be run by the state, similar to OHP.

Etherton stressed the importance of public input in the health care debate.

“Government agencies are making many decisions, and they want to hear from the public — including students and other young people — so they know from the public for what works best for everyone,” she said.

Student and citizen input continues to be of great importance, she said, and she encourages students to get involved in the ongoing debate.

“Students can help shape public policy by becoming engaged in the key decisions that Oregon will be making, such as what kind of standards insurance companies will be required to meet when it comes to the coverage,” Etherton said.

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