Oregon health overhaul makes financial promises



SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed a bill to implement his plan to redesign health care in his state. The former ER doctor says the plan will greatly improve care for low-income patients, and it promises to reduce costs so significantly that it could help fix the federal budget.

The new law would assign the costliest Medicaid patients a caseworker to manage all aspects of a client’s care, from medical to mental, with the goal of eliminating redundant tests and procedures and reducing expensive hospital stays.

Proponents say if all 50 states adopt the approach, it would save the federal budget more than $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years — $300 billion more than Congress’ failed “super committee” was trying to save over the same span.

Skeptics say the plan is bound to overpromise and under deliver.