Legislative panel advances Ore. health overhaul

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A key legislative panel has advanced a proposal to significantly overhaul the state's health care system beginning with the Oregon Health Plan.

Approval in the Ways and Means Committee sends the measure to the full House and Senate. The Senate will vote first, probably next week.

The committee turned back a Republican attempt to limit liability for medical malpractice. Instead, the measure creates a task force to study the issue and submit recommendations to the Legislature next year.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has proposed a broad overhaul of the Oregon Health Plan, the state's Medicaid program for low-income patients. Proponents hope to improve coordination of care and reduce hospital stays. They say the plan could eventually expand to cover state and school district employees.