Lane County Opening New Health Center

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EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County is teaming up with a local health care group to tackle the problem of too many new patients and not enough doctors.

Around 76,000 people in Lane County are now on the Oregon Health Plan, after getting insurance through the Affordable Care Act. For local health care providers, the influx in patients is causing a shortage of doctors.

Once the Affordable Care Act rolled out, thousands of people flocked to the Oregon Health Plan for medical coverage, which community providers weren’t ready for.

“We were expecting a much slower ramp up. What we saw in the first two months of 2014 we had 20,000 lives go onto the plan in that short period of time,” said Terry Coplin, Trillium Community Health Plan CEO.

So now, 9,000 of those adults don’t have a primary care provider, prompting Trillium to partner with Lane County to open a new medical clinic.

“This is an opportunity for us to create a fifth site, particularly in response to really the crisis around access to care. So it’s an opportunity for us to provide a new location for people and also access to providers that doesn’t exist right now,” said Karen Gaffney, Acting Director for Lane County Public Health.

“We’ve reviewed the proposal, and we’re going to provide a grant for almost $900,000 to the county to build start this new clinic,” Coplin said.

The clinic is expected to provide medical coverage for 6,000 people, but it’s just part of Trillium’s plan to provide access to the newly insured. The provider is also working to create incentives for doctors to take on more patients, like handing out grants to doctor offices to cover the expenses of adding onto their clientele so that in the coming months as more and more people enroll in the OHP, they’ll be able to provide coverage for patients.

“We’re anticipating that there could be as much as 5,000 more beneficiaries that come onto the plan before the end of the year,” Coplin said.

Trillium says any patient without a primary care provider can still go to an urgent care or emergency room. People with ongoing medical issues, like cancer, can still continue treatments with their specialists.

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