Oregon State University logo

OSU alum appointed senior healthcare policy advisor

Governor Kitzhaber recently named Mike Bonetto ‘01 MPH, ’06 PhD public health policy, as his senior healthcare policy advisor.

On April 8, 2011 Mike gave a presentation on health care reform to the Oregon State Department of Public Health. The presentation “Health Care Reform, Can it be Done?” is very thorough and informational.

Mike is vice president of business and community development at St. Charles Health System in Bend and is the president and co-founder of HealthMatters of Central Oregon. He also serves on the Oregon Health Policy Board, the Deschutes County Public Health Advisory Board and is a board member of Volunteers in Medicine/Clinic of the Cascades.

Synergies: What are the biggest healthcare challenges facing Oregon today?

MB: As we’re all aware, the cost of health care is becoming less affordable for more and more Oregonians. From a state budget perspective, health care costs are driving state finances over the cliff with medical inflation running at 10 – 12%.  Without a change, our health care system will become increasingly unaffordable for Oregonians and will significantly decrease their access, jeopardize their health status and dampen our state’s economic growth.

Synergies: What are the most critical health problems for Oregonians?

MB: The goal of an effective health care system is optimum health for its population. Unfortunately, the U.S. and Oregon fall short in maximizing the health of its citizens as resources are continually focused on acute care. One third of deaths in Oregon can be attributed to just three unhealthy behaviors: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and poor eating habits.  These behaviors often result in and exacerbate chronic disease. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and diabetes account for two of every three deaths.

Synergies: What do you hope is accomplished in this next legislative session?

MB: Given the state’s huge structural budget deficit we need bold action in the 2011 session to lay the ground work for a large and radical restructuring of our delivery model that positions Oregon to use health care resources in a more sustainable way. Ultimately, we need to maximize the value of public resources spent on health care by achieving better health and quality at lower cost.

Synergies: Any special OSU memories you would like to share?

MB:  Preparing for lectures and classes while drinking really bad coffee with my great Waldo Hall office colleagues, Wade Hill and Seth Wolpin!  Dr. Ray Tricker was instrumental in helping me stay focused during my time at OSU. “Thinking outside the box” was a cornerstone of Dr. Tricker’s teaching style. His methods helped me develop a comprehensive approach to problem solving and policy analysis which remain part of my thought processes today.