Policy Associate with The Cameron Institute
In Jeff Heatherington, the osteopathic physicians and surgeons in the U.S. have had a strong advocate who has been very instrumental in creating the professional climate that today’s Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) enjoy. In 1978 the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of Oregon hired Jeff to become the first non-DO executive director. He hit the deck running and with all his energy and experience he began to tackle some of the issues that had plagued DOs in the State of Oregon.
In the 1979 Legislative Session with the support of his Board, Jeff introduced a bill that would require the Oregon Health Science University to become accredited as an Osteopathic training site for DO interns. Fierce opposition by OHSU and the OMA prevented the Bill from becoming law, but it put DO’s and osteopathic medicine squarely in the public eye and the Legislature’s awareness. In 1981, Jeff introduced a bill requiring insurance companies involved in workman’s compensation coverage to accept and reimburse Osteopathic care in the office setting. This one passed and Oregon became the first State to require payment of OMT along with an office visit. In the early 1990s hospitals began to discriminate against Osteopathic Physicians in new ways. This time if the doctor was not trained in an AMA approved residency program they could not be given staff appointments. This sort of discrimination persisted for several years until the 1995 Legislature passed an OPSO sponsored Bill requiring that any health care organization credentialing physicians must give privileges to any qualified applicant accredited by either the AM or the AOA. Again, the fight was led by Jeff Heatherington.
He was also instrumental in forming “FamilyCare” a nonprofit HMO dedicated to the care of Medicaid patients in the State of Oregon. Under his leadership it became a highly successful enterprise serving over 60,000 clients. From humble beginnings in April 1, 1985 it is very close now to becoming the second largest Medicaid HMO in the State of Oregon. In the formative years, Jeff took no salary. Jeff very ably wore two hats Executive Director of OPSO and CEO of Family Care. Family care has contributed over $3,000,000 to OPSO and other Osteopathic causes!
At the dedication of the new Osteopathic college in Lebanon, Oregon, Jeff spoke for the first time about his involvement in the creation of the school. Upon his retirement, Jeff received an honorary degree from Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Distinguished Service Certificate from the AOA, an honor only given to 15 laymen in the history of the profession.