John was born in Colfax, Washington, March 5, 1947; graduated from Dartmouth College, 1969; and the University of Oregon Medical School, 1973. He did his internship in Denver with four rotations in the emergency departments of Denver General Hospital, Denver Children’s Hospital and University Hospital. Following his internship, he practiced Emergency Medicine in Roseburg, Oregon from 1974-1989 with one year of general practice and surgery from 1976-1977.
He was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1978; the State Senate in 1980, 1984 and 1988, serving as Senate President from 1985-1993. John is Oregon’s longest-serving governor, holding that office from 1995-2003 and 2011-2015.
Between 1978 and 1989 John practiced emergency medicine while simultaneously serving in the legislature. This gave him a unique perspective on the implications of public policy at the point of delivery. He also saw many medical problems that started first as social problems in the home, which led to his lifelong commitment to at risk children and families.
As Senate President, he authored the groundbreaking Oregon Health Plan, which challenged federal policy around categorical eligibility and sought to prioritize health services based on social values and clinical effectiveness. Hundreds of thousands of low and moderate-income Oregon families and their children still have access to health care because of this work.
During his terms as governor John developed the Oregon Children’s Plan; led the transformation of Oregon’s early childhood delivery system; and the creation of the Early Learning Council and local Early Learning Hubs. During his third term he was the chief architect of Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), the first effort in the country created on a statewide basis to meet the Triple Aim—better health, better quality, lower cost—with a focus on community and population health.
Over the past five years Oregon's new CCO care model has reduced the Medicaid cost trend by two percentage points per member per month, realizing a new total funds savings of over $1billion. At the same time, benefits were maintained, enrollment was expanded by 385,000 people and all the CCOs met rigorous outcome and quality metrics. Today nearly a million people—one out of every four Oregonians and fifty percent of Oregon’s children—get quality care through a CCO.
In 2013 Modern Healthcare Magazine ranked John #2 on list of the “100 Most Influential People in Health Care;” and #1 on the list of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives. In 2013, Governing Magazine named John “Public Official of the Year.” John has served on the boards of the Oregon Environmental Council, the Pacific Rivers Council and the Wild Salmon Center; and is the recipient of the Richard L. Neuberger Award (Oregon Environmental Council); The Distinguished Service Award (Trout Unlimited); and The Guardian of the Future Award (Resource Renewal Institute).
John is currently a writer, speaker and private consultant on health policy and politics; early childhood development; and sustainable natural resource management. He lives in Portland and spends his free time fly fishing and white-water rafting on Oregon’s wild and scenic rivers.