Portland, OR -

Oregon health officials are considering whether to use the state's authority to approve or reject health insurance premiums as a tool to drive down health care costs.

The idea is one of several suggestions for improving the health care system that Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked the Oregon Health Policy Board to consider before state lawmakers return to Salem in February.

Kitzhaber wants to expand Oregon's health care reform efforts, which so-far have focused primarily on Medicaid.

Oregon already reviews insurance premiums for plans sold to individuals and small businesses. Advocates say the state should be required to show progress toward lowering their costs.