Working Collaboratively to Make Health Care Better in our Community
The Central Oregon Health Council (COHC) is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt public and private community governance entity. The COHC is dedicated to improving the health of the region and providing oversight of the Medicaid population and Coordinated Care Organization (CCO). COHC was officially created by Senate Bill 204 in 2011 to promote the health of the region’s residents and seeks to achieve the Triple Aim of improving health outcomes, increasing satisfaction with the health system, and reducing cost. The COHC’s mission is to serve as the governing Board for the CCO and to connect the CCO, patients, providers, Central Oregon, and resources.
The COHC and Central Oregon’s CCO, PacificSource Community Solutions (PSCS), works together to transform health care in the region and to use integrated and coordinated health care systems to improve health; increase quality, reliability, availability, and continuity of care; and reduce the cost of care.
The History of the Central Oregon Health Council
The Central Oregon healthcare community has a history of taking a comprehensive approach to solve problems. Each organization sees the bigger picture beyond their individual efforts. Central Oregon also looks for opportunities to experiment and create transformation, and have developed unique structures and legislation to allow these ideas to take place.
In 2007, Governor Kitzhaber traveled throughout Oregon discussing various ideas for creating healthcare transformation. Central Oregon was selected as a test site for Medicaid payment reform.
Late in 2009 Mike Bonetto from Clear One Health Plans asked Dr. Robin Henderson from St. Charles Health System and Megan Haase from Mosaic Medical to organize a meeting inviting key healthcare community leaders. Dr. Henderson asked the group how they would better organize the community, instigate teamwork, and integrate across silos. Following this initial breakfast meeting, 60 people came together for a half-day to discuss that very idea as a cohort. Reducing Emergency Department Utilization was selected as a regional project and became the focus of healthcare organizations across all fields.
In 2009 the earliest version of the Central Oregon Health Council (COHC) was called the Health Integration Project Transitional Board. The intention of the group was to create the first Regional Health Alliance that would allow Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties to work together. Dr. Bruce Goldberg from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) shared that there was clear consensus that a regional organization should oversee health, public health, behavioral health and chemical dependency. The board renamed itself “Links for Health” shortly after to honor James Link, a patient suffering from multiple comorbidities who was not empowered to thrive in the existing healthcare system and passed away early in life as a result. This Transitional Board submitted an intergovernmental agreement from the three counties, and it was accepted by the State. This same group later wrote the legislation for what would become the Central Oregon Health Council.
In 2011, Deschutes County Public Health Director Scott Johnson and Dr. Henderson designed the COHC model and submitted Senate Bill 204. The plan at that time included the Regional Health Assessment and Regional Health Improvement Plan, a global budget and transparency.
When the Board of Directors was being established, everyone involved understood the importance of having the head decision-makers of each organization represented. This requirement allows for the greatest possible changes. Central Oregon believed everyone, community members and clinics alike, would be impacted by changes to the health system. As a reflection of that belief, community representatives were asked to join the Board of Directors from the beginning.
With legislation in place, the Transitional Board became the governing entity of the region’s Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) in 2012 and was renamed the Central Oregon Health Council in 2013.
Today, the COHC continues to catalyze healthcare transformation through innovation, integration, and cross-sector collaboration to create a healthier Central Oregon, not only for individuals on Medicaid, but for all residents. The COHC continues it’s work in the following areas:
- Acting as an effective governing body for the region’s CCO.
- Overseeing a collaborative Regional Health Assessment (RHA) and Regional Health Improvement Plan (RHIP) process.
- Creating a sustainable financing mechanism for investments toward community health improvement.
Serve as the community governing board for the CCO and connect the CCO, patients, providers, Central Oregon, and resources.