Trumpression, Knute Buehler, Jim Capretta

“Grow confident making decisions amidst the chaos.” This from the boardroom wall of an insurance company I know – and a good reminder that just when we thought things might settle down, even more upheaval appears on the horizon.

It’s part of what we’re watching in Oregon health care in the month of May.

1.  Lessons from Zoom Health Plan

Last month, Zoom Health Plan was taken over by DCBS. A lawsuit was filed to move the company into receivership and ensure that beneficiaries and providers were taken care of during the transition.

Reading the lawsuit by the state makes Zoom’s death appear to be more a function of financial mismanagement rather than any problems with risk pools or provider challenges.  AG Ellen Rosenblum cites “Unjust enrichment” by the investor, Zoom Management.

Perhaps instead of this story fitting within the context of difficulty in the individual market, maybe this story is simply that it’s hard to launch, develop, and sustain a health plan in Oregon – a reminder of how challenging the insurance business can be.



2.  Watching Knute Buehler and gov’s race

Rep. Knute Buehler, a physician from Bend, is looking at running for Governor in 2018 – and getting quite a bit of attention from folks in health care. That may be context for a recent ethics complaint, or his prominent statement yesterday against Trump.

Related to the 2018 race is how openly health care stakeholders are in their collective head shaking about Gov. Brown. Practically every stakeholder I ask about Gov. Brown tells me that they like her, enjoyed working with her previously, and consequently are disappointed in her perceived lack of leadership now.

I know we’re not out of the 2017 session yet, but if Buehler runs, and if early money from health care stakeholders moves his way, will that complicate an already anxious state procurement for Medicaid in 2018?

3.  Podcasts:  Jim Capretta and John Kitzhaber

We have a couple of interesting podcasts out for your review.  This week, we interviewed Jim Capretta from the American Enterprise Institute.  He’s one of the smartest thinkers on the right when it comes to federal health policy and the budget, and has been a constructively critical voice on the AHCA.

We also released comments from former Governor John Kitzhaber.  He spoke at our recent Northern California event in Sacramento.  For all of our podcasts, you can subscribe to us on iTunes.


4. “Drunk donkey on roller skates”

It’s not often that health policy mixes easily with pop culture, but there have been two moments recently that are probably both “must see TV” and are commentary on health policy.

First, Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue about his newborn son’s heart surgery – and the way he connected the experience to the need to maintain the coverage under the ACA – was tear-jerking. As of this morning, the video has 23m views on Facebook, and 10m on YouTube.  Here is a breakdown of the reach via social media and search.

This week, John Oliver takes on dialysis at DaVita on his show on HBO. He points out that while 2% of the federal budget goes to the Dept of Education, 1% of the budget goes to kidney dialysis. Interestingly, our story on DaVita from March has shot back up to be the most read on our site this week.

5. Trumpression, and our role as citizens

There is a new mental health diagnosis out, one not yet in the DSM:  Trumpression. I know we are all trying to soldier on, in both policy and the market, but it’s also appropriate to call our afflictions by name in order to move past them – because it’s a little hard to take our eyes off of what’s happening in DC.

An axiom I tend to believe is that “Americans always get the government we deserve.” If that’s true, I’m not sure what this federal mess says about us as citizens right now. I’m not sure what state and federal health policy says about us as stakeholders in the health care industry.

But, it’s probably worth reflecting on how I can be a better citizen of the country, and a better stakeholder in our health care system.

If you have any reflections on your role in America or Oregon health care today, and how we can improve ourselves to improve our politics, I’d love to have you share them with our community.  Drop me a note and we’ll post a collection of them in due time.  Tell me if you’re sharing them with attribution or anonymously – I can respect either.