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Oregon Faces $500M Hole For Health Reforms

Oregon has to find $500 million if it wants to maintain health reforms into the next biennium.

Back in 2012, Gov. John Kitzhaber squeezed almost $2 billion out of the Obama administration for health reforms.

The bargain was that Oregon would pay large fines if it couldn’t save that kind of money by reducing the growth of health care costs.

The good news is that Oregon has reduced some of that growth and probably won’t have to pay the fines. But now, federal funding is running out and the state has to find money to maintain the new system in the next biennium.

Oregon Health Authority director Lynne Saxton, said she’s looking at efficiencies, “I had a meeting with a legislator last week who asked me if I’d found the $500 million. I don’t quite have that done yet," she said.

"And of course as with everything at the Oregon Health Authority, it will be a team effort, but we will be bringing forward ideas and opportunities.”

The state has time to find the money. Oregon’s next biennium doesn’t start until 2017.

<p>Oregon Health Authority director, Lynne Saxton, answers questions at the 2015 State of Reform Conference.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

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Oregon Health Authority director, Lynne Saxton, answers questions at the 2015 State of Reform Conference.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.