May 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Legislators release Oregon Medical Group statements addressing Eugene health care crisis

3 min read
Rep. Nancy Nathanson: "We must ensure that Oregonians have no lapses in access to the care or life-saving medicines that they need. I am grateful to those constituents who contacted me so that I could convey the real impacts caused by this disruption of care."

from the Oregon Legislature and staff reports

Rep. Nancy Nathanson and Sen. Floyd Prozanski shared statements May 9 from the new corporate owner of Oregon Medical Group addressing what local officials called “a crisis in terms of health care in our community.

Councilor Greg Evans told the Eugene City Council April 8 that the area was losing health care providers, leaving insured patients either without providers, or with long waits for care.

Rep. Nathanson responded to a question April 15 from Whole Community News about press reports that 32 physicians have left Oregon Medical Group since March 2022.

“The numbers you cited from the Lane County Medical Society appear to be accurate, though the situation continues to evolve,” Rep. Nathanson wrote. “We have yet to receive reliable data on the number of patients affected or a clear picture on the proportion of OMG’s doctors who have left.”

“One thing is clear: people who live in Eugene, Springfield, and Lane County more broadly are at risk of losing access to their doctor and I am increasingly alarmed. The situation in Eugene appears to be developing into a crisis in access to primary health care and I am working to actively understand the community impact. I was part of a solution this year to cut ambulance delays in the wake of a hospital closing in the region, and I supported legislation that would keep healthcare corporations focused on patient care over profits in Oregon. As this situation continues to unfold, I am squarely focused on ensuring that access to healthcare – being able to see someone in a timely fashion – isn’t reduced, and that costs for receiving care are not increased,” Rep. Nathanson said.

On May 9, Sheela Tallman, External Affairs vice president for UnitedHealth, highlighted two key points from Optum/OMG in an email message to the Eugene-area legislators:.

  • NoncompetesOptum’s practices in Oregon will not be enforcing employment non-competes on any physician or Advanced Practice Clinician.
  • Pharmacy Refills: If you are an Oregon Medical Group patient in need of a prescription refill, contact your pharmacy directly. The pharmacy will contact Oregon Medical Group.

The non-compete clause was widely seen as contributing to the physician shortage by preventing the medical personnel who were leaving OMG from continuing to practice in the area.

“I am relieved that Optum is listening to our constituents and making the right choice,” Rep. Nathanson said May 9. “We must ensure that Oregonians have no lapses in access to the care or life-saving medicines that they need. I am grateful to those constituents who contacted me so that I could convey the real impacts caused by this disruption of care.”

Since learning about the high number of physicians leaving Oregon Medical Group leaving clinics following an Optum Inc. notice, Rep. Nathanson and Sen. Prozanski penned a letter to the medical group imploring them not to add to disruptions in care, and pressed Optum on the urgency for many constituents who still lack doctors and are in critical need of getting prescriptions refilled.

“This news is a win for patients, providers, and members of our wider community who are concerned about the impact of a disruption in health care services in our area,” said Sen. Prozanski. “We in the legislature need to continue to look out for our communities as health care companies change to make sure access and cost of care is not negatively impacted.”

This situation is still unfolding and legislators are committed to continued monitoring of the situation for the local area as the delivery of health care changes rapidly from access to urgent care and hospitals to pharmacies and specialists.

The Oregon Medical Group website is offering resources for patients who may have been impacted by departing adult primary care clinicians, directing them to an updated list of Primary Care clinicians on the Lane County Medical Society website.

Whole Community News

You are free to share and adapt these stories under the Creative Commons license Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Whole Community News