“The humanity of a society can be measured by the care it provides for the elderly, the poor, and the prisoners,” says Dr. William C. “Bud” Pierce, MD.  “Cruel societies care only for the economically valuable, and allow those who cannot produce to suffer from lack of shelter, lack of food and inadequate health care.”

The topic will be explored with sensitivity and depth at the fourth program in this season’s Salem City Club series on Health Care for Oregonians on February 7th.

Discussing Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO’s) and how they can improve the delivery of Medicaid and Oregon Health Plan services to uninsured and under-insured people in Oregon, will be a panel of three, including Dr. Pierce, who is Immediate Past President of the Oregon Medical Society, Cheryl Nester Wolfe, Chief Operating Officer of Salem Health and Ruth A. Rogers Bauman, CEO of ATRIO Health Plan.

All three have been involved in the ongoing local implementation of our local CCO, which currently has 75,000 enrollees, and Pierce will describe how the organization they are creating will improve the lives of the poor by coordinating “high quality, non duplicative services with very low administrative overhead.”

There are several reasons the matter should interest Salem people who already have insurance, Bauman says.

First, because the uninsured are not able to fully pay, (or pay at all,) providers charge insured people more, boosting the cost of premiums for all of us.  Second, since insured people suffer from the same lack of coordination that the uninsured do, “any improvements we can make through the CCOs will also help the insured population” as well.”

The event also boasts “poster sessions” for innovative local health programs prior to, and after the program.  The sessions will give attendees the chance to learn about programs that educate patients on living with chronic disease, that mentor at-risk, pregnant mothers to deliver healthy babies, and more.

“Everyone has a story to share about the difficulties of navigating from one provider to another, as they… seek better health,” Bauman says.  “CCOs are developing better ways to get all oars pulling at the same time, in the same direction without losing any one on the way.”  She says that today, in early 2014, “we might look like a life boat.  But, hopefully, some day we will build a health care system that will glide through both calm and chopping seas.”