Whoa, this is big. It seems that Governor John Kitzhaber is winging his way to DC to join the First Lady in her box during the State of the Union address.
Those that sit with the First Lady are often chosen to highlight particular initiatives or goals of the President. It's a practice known as being a "Skutnick", human in-person illustration of a point the president will make.
Two years ago, another Oregonian was the Skutnick: Hawthorne Auto Clinic's Jim Houser, for whom health reform made it possible for him to continue providing health care to his employees. (The term "Skutnick" refers to Lenny Skutnick, a government employee who jumped into the icy Potomac River to rescue a flight attendant from a crashed airplane. He was honored by President Reagan two weeks later during the State of the Union.)
In this case, it seems almost certain that the President will point to Oregon as a place that's undertaking the hard work of making health care reform a reality. Along the way, Kitzhaber is taking the opportunity to innovate further, rather than behaving impetuously or imperiously as some Republican governors have.
What sort of health care innovation is Oregon undertaking? Check out this BlueOregon post from a few weeks ago.. The punchline - as the Washington Post put it?
Kitzhaber estimates that, if every state cut its Medicaid costs as Oregon plans to, the federal government would save $1.5 trillion.
Yeah, I think that might be worth a seat next to the First Lady.