Senate Finance Committee | Russell Benaroya | Outlook for 2016

With the holiday season in full swing, and our annual SeaTac conference right around the corner, it’s a great time to tell you how much we appreciate all of the support you’ve given to State of Reform over the years.

Thank you for that – and for all you do to improve the health and wellness of our community.  Happy holiday season to you and yours from us at State of Reform.


DJ 5 Things Signature

1. What health care pricing actually looks like

Thanks to United, Humana, and Aetna, a new study of data has been released which shows the actual commercial prices demanded by and paid to providers by these three national carriers.  It shows how far we still have to go before we get to a functioning market in health care. Without this kind of pricing transparency, consumers and purchasers cannot drive the inefficiencies from the system that are needed.

It’s perhaps ironic that, for as local as health care is, it’s the national plans with the chutzpah to lead on transparency here. Perhaps it takes a national perspective to hold local communities accountable on pricing.



2. The outlook for health care in 2016

Have you answered these 8 questions yet?

Like last year, this survey takes the pulse of our readers – now 24,000 of you in Washington State – to see what you think about the state of health care in Washington.  We ask a few questions about your outlook for the year ahead, and then feature them at our conference on January 7th.

But, it can’t reflect what you’re thinking unless you answer the questions!  It’s completely anonymous, so feel free to be honest. And, send it around to your colleagues for their input as well. We’ll share all of the details at our 2016 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference.




2016 washington executive survey

3. Inslee’s 2016 supplemental budget

The health care portion of Governor Inslee’s supplemental budget announced last Thursday seemed to be relatively untouched, though mental health was something of a priority.  Expect discussion on this at our “Olympia Insiders” panel of lobbyists on Jan. 7th.

There were, however, a few nuggets buried deep in the notes that also caught my eye.  For example, the Governor shot down the HCA’s request for extra FTEs to better provide oversight of DSHS related to behavioral health, though this “places Washington State at risk for reduction in Federal funding,” says the HCA.  The budget also adds in costs that were previously listed as savings. The HCA expected King and Pierce Counties to be early adopter regions, which allowed the legislature to book savings previously that have not otherwise materialized.



4. Changes to chronic care in Medicare?

The US Senate Finance Committee continues to be the central health policy body in Congress. Last week, Chair Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a paper outlining a series of policy options to better manage chronic care. It’s the kind of document that could have parts of it end up in a future omnibus appropriations bill, so it’s a worthy read.

Policy options include allowing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to tailor benefits specifically for chronically ill enrollees, adding additional tools for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), making permanent the Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration program, and giving greater flexibility to MA and ACOs to deliver non-health services.  Finance is taking comments through Jan. 26th.






5. Video: Russell Benaroya, EveryMove

State of Reform recently sat down with Russell Benaroya, Co-Founder and CEO at EveryMove. Benaroya tells us that wearable technology and the health care industry’s understanding of how to leverage it are just in their infancies. Meanwhile, the demand for better patient engagement and preventive care is growing exponentially.

Daniel Kraft will be tackling this very issue at our luncheon keynote on Jan. 7–mapping out not just the range of what health technology can offer but where care delivery is headed.  Reserve your spot now to make sure that you are part of this important conversation.