“What's surfaced is that we're getting more nuanced about thinking about this population and why they are where they are," said Ron Stock, a director at the Oregon Health Authority Transformation Center. "We need to think more about the individual patient and what their health needs, social needs, psychiatric needs, family needs are."
by Lillian Thomas
PORTLAND, Ore. — Better — and cheaper — health care for the poor could lie in the answer to this question:
Can an air conditioner be considered medicine?
Janet Meyer, CEO of Health Share Oregon, says it can.
"There is the case of a guy with a heart problem," said Ms. Meyer, adding that the man keeps going to the emergency department, where doctors stabilize him and send him home, only to find him back again.
"Come to find out, he's in a walk-up with no AC — he has trouble managing his fluids," Ms. Meyer said. "We say, 'Maybe what he needs is an air conditioner.' Instead of going back and back to the ER, we buy him an air conditioner and help him manage his fluids."
The end result: Less money spent and the patient's health improved.
Health Share is part of an aggressive effort by Oregon to lower costs and improve medical care in its Medicaid system, a high-stakes undertaking that uses an unorthodox approach and is funded by a $1.9 billion waiver from the federal government.