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REEDSPORT — With the holiday season upon us, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of what we already have in terms of health benefits from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and what is soon to come in 2014.

As part of the ACA, Oregon is expanding Medicaid (Oregon Health Plan) coverage to more low-income adults in 2014. The state has offered fast track applications to more than 250,000 people who are currently receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and it is anticipated that 100,000 will have signed up by year-end.

In Reedsport, more than 115 additional people will have OHP coverage starting in the New Year. In the entire Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization (which also includes Columbia, Tillamook and Clatsop counties), more than 1,950 individuals have enrolled to date. All will have their medical, mental health and (starting in July) dental health benefits coordinated into one seamless system of care.

The ACA also ensures that many of the preventive and wellness benefits Oregon Health Plan members enjoy also will be included in individual and group commercial plans. For example, the ACA requires health plans to provide coverage, without additional copayments or co-insurance, for services such as colorectal cancer screening, Pap tests and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for children and adults.

The health law increases funding to community health centers nationwide. In Oregon, 29 health centers operate 190 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to more than 289,000 people.

As a result of major new federal investments, the number of doctors and other health workers in the National Health Service Corps are at an all-time high. They provide care to more than 10.4 million people nationwide living in rural, urban and frontier communities. The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers and other primary care providers who practice in areas with too few health care professionals. In Oregon, the number of Corps providers jumped from 49 to 214 in four years.

And it is important to remember that Oregon jumped on the health reform band wagon early, by creating coordinated care organizations, or CCOs. CCOs are networks that include all types of health care providers (physical health care providers, addictions and mental health treatment programs, hospitals, county health departments, and starting in 2014, dental care providers), who have agreed to work together in their local communities to serve people who receive health care coverage under the Oregon Health Plan.

CCOs are focused on prevention and helping people manage chronic conditions like diabetes, congestive heart disease and asthma. This helps reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and gives people support to be healthy. Columbia Pacific CCO supports more than 15,000 OHP beneficiaries. For more information, please visit www.colpachealth.org.

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