Expert: Big savings in Oregon health overhaul

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A health management consultant says a proposal to overhaul the Oregon Health Plan has the potential to eventually reduce Medicaid costs by as much 50 percent. But in the short term, health care is likely to cost more than lawmakers have budgeted.

Doug Elwell told a health policy board on Tuesday that Oregon could save as much as $115 million from the General Fund in the first year by implementing proposed health care changes that focus on preventative medicine and coordinated care. The savings fall short of the $239 million in savings that the state budget relies on.

State officials say they're hopeful federal money might help make up for the difference. If it doesn't, the Legislature would probably have to reduce benefits or cut reimbursements to doctors and hospitals.