Oregon Health Forum – finally dead

We just noticed – the Oregon Health Forum died back in December 2009. Likely cause? Boredom and a bad board.

When the four-page newsletter first came to our attention in the early 1990s it was a fascinating read, a true dope-sheet with the inside stuff, the real close-the-door-I-gotta-tell-you gossip we all want to read. Who got fired and who got rehired. Who’s suing who. The payrolls of insurance and HMO presidents. On-the-record interviews with the middle-managers who wrote and broke policies.

If you were a health-politic-geek it was a necessary read. Remember way back when, in the olden days, when you would pick up Willamette Week to make sure you weren’t in it, and stay to laugh at the mug shots of your friends and enemies? It was like that. But about healthcare.

The newsletter grew under the auspices of Diane Lund-Muzikant who chose, for reasons we could never quite understand, a nonprofit model. Finding friends and industry-insiders who knew to keep their enemies close, her board also grew. Lund-Muzikant, a hard-headed former Oregonian reporter, knew all the sore spots and kept poking, seeking accountability, transparency, and good government.

The board veered away from independent advocacy and toward industrial-sympathies and in October 2006 Lund-Muzikant was out.

The Oregon Health Forum limped along for a couple of years, and under new publisher Carol Robinson content dissipated, good healthcare writers came and went, and the spirit to write – and bite – was lost. The nonprofit board, now filled with PR flacks from a dozen different agencies suitable for criticism, had won.

In 2009 Lund-Muzikant launched The Lund Report, and wrote the obits for the OHF, see below.

Health, next to government and education, is one of the biggest industries in Oregon. The public spends billions on it each year – and most of us haven’t a clue about the value of our exchange. It takes independent and impartial reporter to bring us this information – so the crack-up of the OHF in 2006 was a great loss. That it finally stopped printing in 2009 was hardly a blip.

Oregon Health Forum Closes Doors – The announcement makes The Lund Report the sole provider of dedicated Oregon healthcare news, December 2009

My Take on Why Oregon Health Forum Went Under – Diane Lund-Muzikant offers her thoughts on the demise of the organization she founded, December 2009