Following his annual State of the State address, Governor Kulongoski has been touring the state presenting different aspects of his program to various areas. He was in White City at the Community Health Center on Mar. 24 learning how people are dealing with their medical needs.
Holly Ruddock, the mother of four teenagers whose husband is self
employed, said it gets to the point with many where "health care is
something you don’t even shoot for." A sports physical for 13-year-old
Jesse was the beginning of a new journey for the family. Jesse was
diagnosed with arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat). But, in reality,
they could be considered one of the fortunate families. They reached
out to Illa Reimer, the District 9 school outreach worker, who
recommended a visit to the Community Health Center. That in turn gave
them help in filling out the extensive paperwork required by the Oregon
Health Plan; a plan that often stymies people before they even know if
they qualify. And not only was Jesse seen by specialists, so was his
mother as it was discovered she had lumps in her breasts.
But, there are some 115,999 other boys and girls in Oregon who have no insurance.
Crowley, CEO of the three Community Health Centers (Ashland, Medford
and White City) told the governor one of the biggest issues is the six
month cycle for Oregon Health Plan recipients. She said it created
quite a burden, that cycling on and off the plan is difficult for all
concerned. She said the staff can get a child’s health care needs under
control only to have the child off the plan and then when he or she
cycles back it, the process needs to begin again.
Gov. Kulongoski said that change was going to be made administratively to a 12 month cycle.
Crowley also expressed the need for access to health care as well as the need for a workforce.
governor said the legislature has been working to get several of the
higher education institutions to collaborate with OHSU in order to
graduate more physicians. Right now there are 120 graduating when the
need is for 200.
The governor talked about incentives for
doctors to locate in rural areas. The state could pick up the cost of
education for a doctor spending 20 years in a rural area. In addition,
the state could include a 401K, said Kulongoski. Senator Bates, M.D.
said six years ago Kulongoski set up a program that help doctors with
mal practice insurance. That has now been extended to nurse
The governor said his primary focus , the one
he is 100 percent committee to is to see health care provided for the
116,000 uninsured children. "The legislature will do it this time,"
said Kulongoski. He added they also need to see how to provide for the
Mental health also was an issue of concern for
the governor. He said they are finding there are often mental health
issues associated with drug and alcohol abuse. It was also noted that
mental health issues are much more prevalent in the lower
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent