SALEM — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber will watch President Barack Obama's State of the Union address from first lady Michelle Obama's box.
Kitzhaber spokesman Tim Raphael says the White House extended the invitation on Monday, presumably to highlight Kitzhaber's health care and education initiatives.
The Obama administration has given Oregon $1.9 billion to help put Kitzhaber's health reforms into practice. The governor says Oregon can improve health and lower costs by managing chronic diseases and preventing avoidable hospitalizations.
If Oregon's effort is successful, Kitzhaber says it would be a model for others states to manage the federal health care overhaul.
Raphael says the governor is honored by the invitation and "it's gratifying for our efforts in Oregon to be recognized."
I her list of official guests, Michelle Obama provides the following reason for including Kitzhaber:
Governor John Kitzhaber has built on his experience as a former emergency room doctor to transform health care delivery in Oregon. Now in his third term, Governor Kitzhaber is working with the Obama administration to scale up innovative models that show how government can do more with less. These performance partnerships, which emphasize federal flexibility and local accountability, are key to achieving improved health care outcomes and efficiencies, better results for our students and building the infrastructure we'll need to unleash the 21st century economy.
The State of the Union address will be broadcast on KGW TV starting at 6 p.m.