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Oregon's Health Care System Garners Praise And A Warning

The former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Don Berwick, praised Oregon's health care system at a conference in Portland today.

And he didn't hold back: "Bravo. You're doing something amazing. The more I learn, and I learn all the time about what you're doing, the more I truly believe there is a very bright light here and what you can do here in the state of Oregon can be an example for the whole nation. "

Berwick was speaking to hundreds of health care workers from Oregon's Coordinated Care Organizations, or CCOs. But after the praise, he warned that as pioneers, Oregonians will be the first to experience problems. He particularly told the heads of the CCOs, not to focus on the loss of old ways of making a profit.

"I know you're interested in the money," he said. I know you're interested in the form of the contract. It isn't enough. The leader of a CCO today is going to have to be a leader of the actual change of the delivery of care itself."

Many CCOs are concerned for example, that efforts to keep people out of the ER and hospital beds, will cut into their bottom lines.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting