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Jackson Care Connect invests in behavioral health provider network

Jun 28, 2021, 07:00 AM

Local funding is part of CareOregon’s $7.5 million cash investment to
help stabilize the system and improve patient experience


Medford, Ore.— Today CareOregon announced a $7.5 million investment in behavioral health service providers, aiming for funds to be used as direct cash incentives to recruit and retain mental health providers serving some of our region’s most vulnerable patients. This funding is the first step of a multiyear plan to stabilize and strengthen Oregon’s behavioral health system.

That funding includes more than $1.2 million to behavioral health providers in Jackson County. As part of the CareOregon family, Jackson Care Connect is a nonprofit, community-governed coordinated care organization (CCO) providing Medicaid coverage for more than 50,000 members in Jackson County.

"The events of 2020 amplified existing health disparities and brought to light challenges some communities face in accessing health services," said Amit Shah, Chief Medical Officer at CareOregon. "This is especially true for folks experiencing mental health issues or substance misuse—and, importantly, for those that serve them. We’re seeing unprecedented levels of provider burnout, of folks leaving the profession entirely due to stress of high caseloads."

Known as the CareOregon Emergency Behavioral Health Workforce Stabilization Fund, this one-time $7.5 million cash infusion will provide funding to approximately 20 behavioral health provider agencies who serve CareOregon members.

The goal of this funding is to help address the current symptoms of provider burnout, which leads to highly trained professionals leaving the field, resulting in higher caseloads for those who remain, and ultimately in less access to community mental and substance use treatment for patients.

"Our community has endured many challenges over the past year, and Jackson Care Connect’s behavioral health network providers have provided critical support to our members and to the community as a whole," says Jennifer Lind, CEO of Jackson Care Connect. "We know high-quality behavioral health services are essential to our members’ overall health, and we’re making these investments to help strengthen the network and to help ensure our providers have the support and resources they need to keep serving the community."

Funding will be distributed to behavioral health provider agencies to support efforts such as retention bonuses, housing support, costs associated with supervising new providers working toward licensure, and or other financial incentives. The goal of the funding is to support these essential workers, many of whom make less working in community mental health settings than they could in other positions that require less training.

"Like many behavioral health providers, OnTrack Rogue Valley is experiencing a significant staffing shortage," says Sommer Wolcott, Executive Director of OnTrack Rogue Valley, one of the fund’s recipients. "Our community is experiencing an ever-greater need for our services, but until we can become fully staffed we are limited in how many clients we can serve. With the help of Jackson Care Connect’s workforce support funding, we will attract more applicants to our open positions and also reward our hard-working staff who have helped us keep our doors open throughout the pandemic."

In addition to this investment in behavioral health providers, Jackson Care Connect and CareOregon are working on upstream solutions to strengthen the behavioral health ecosystem over the long run, including:

  • Working with provider agencies to find opportunities to reduce administrative burdens, so they can focus on patient care
  • Helping convene regional conversations about how to support our neighbors experiencing behavioral health emergencies
  • Working to ensure provider and member voice is part of conversations about behavioral health systems improvement in the regions we serve
  • Advocating on behalf of providers in conversations with State and elected bodies
  • Supporting our providers’ efforts to increase capacity and exploring models that could improve payment parity across diverse providers.

Learn more about CareOregon’s approach to stabilize and strengthen the behavioral health system

For information about Jackson Care Connect, contact Sara King Cole, 503-416-7791, or Elise Burke, 503-416-3736,


About Jackson Care Connect

Jackson Care Connect serves the people of Jackson County as an Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) Coordinated Care Organization. We bring physical, behavioral and oral health care together, to make it easier for members to get the care they need. Our mission is to help members of our community prevent illness and respond effectively to health issues. We partner with other organizations to explore innovative projects that promote a healthy Jackson County, and to connect members with appropriate whole person care.