5 Things Washington: Sen. Cantwell, Convening Panel, Peter Adler

We have quite a bit of original content for you this issue, with links to three videos and three podcasts. We also have the Cliff’s Notes version of yesterday’s US Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Quite a few moving parts as we scan health policy in Washington State for September, 2017.

DJ 5 Things Signature

1.  Sen. Cantwell at Senate Finance Comm.

On Monday, the US Senate Finance Committee, on which Sen. Maria Cantwell serves, held the only hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill comes to the Senate floor either Wednesday or Thursday with an uncertain vote count.

Sen. Cantwell highlighted conclusions from a preliminary CBO report released during the hearing.  “In fact it says, quote “in general states would not have substantially additional flexibility under the per capita cap…”  And then it goes on to say “however because funding under the program at the rate of CPIU, CBO anticipates that it would be attractive mainly to the few states that expect to decline in population and would have little effect on enrollment in Medicaid…”  Now they’re proposing something that is really about just being attractive if you really just think you’re going to have lower populations and not cover people.”

Later, she is speaking with some frustration to Sen. Cassidy: “You know, I think the issue for us in the Pacific Northwest is that we’re just a little tired of the tail wagging the dog when it comes to these issues. We deliver better care at lower cost, okay? We deliver better care, probably $2-3,000 less per Medicare beneficiary than Louisiana and we deliver better care, okay? So we know what innovation is, and we want to run towards it. Some people want to walk and we get that. We want to run towards it.”

Sen. Cassidy later responded saying Washington State’s experience is a reason to trim federal funding: “Senator Cantwell, who I’ve learned so much from, she talks about how her state gets less on a per beneficiary basis on Medicare, so they’ve had to innovate.  And as they innovate, paradoxically, they’ve improved outcomes. This is what we’re saying the potential is.  And, Senator Cantwell’s state is one of those states that has absolutely done it.”

2.  Thank you, Premera

We started this newsletter in April, 2011, following our first event in January of that year.  Premera was our first sponsor of State of Reform and remains one of our most important partners in this endeavor to bridge the gap between the world of health care and health policy.

During the last seven years, we’ve sometimes been critical of Premera or highlighted areas where they could improve.  When we had concerns about issues, we could bring those to the organization and they always listened with respect, allowing us a full dialog and conversation.

If you believe that we endeavor to write these emails with integrity, honesty and candor, believe me when I tell you that Premera has been a tremendous partner during this run of seven years.  So, I thought it was probably time to tell them thank you for their support in the most public way I can.

Thanks, Premera.  We appreciate your support very much.

3.  Podcast: Peter Adler, CEO of Molina

We recently recorded a podcast episode with Peter Adler, the President/CEO of Molina Healthcare of Washington.  Molina is now up to almost 800,000 beneficiaries in Washington State, making it the largest Medicaid plan in the state, but also the largest carrier on the exchange.  It’s an extensive conversation that covers a range of topics, but it focuses on the innovation happening in Washington State and among the ACH communities.

It also touches on some of the political consequences of Molina’s public advocacy in support of the ACA during the last year. “At the time that Molina was so strong and strident in speaking on record that repealing the ACA and repealing without a replacement was treachery, is in fact where the Congress has come…”

4. State of Reform from Spokane to SeaTac

Our 2017 Inland NW State of Reform event was an amazing conference again this year with hallway conversation, panel discussions, and audience dialog that was truly an honor to host and participate in. You can review the highlights from this year’s event here.

We begin planning for our 2018 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference with our Convening Panel meeting next week.  Like last year, we will limit the audience to 650 attendees in order to make the event as high quality as possible for those who join us. If you know you want to be with us, there is no better time than the present to sign up to be with us!  We’ll sell out again this year, but we have plenty of room today!

5.  Keynotes from Spokane; podcasts with legislators

We captured a lot of great content at our 2017 Inland NW State of Reform Health Policy Conference.  We have video footage of our Morning Keynote Address with Commissioner Mike Kreidler. We also have a Keynote Panel on the 2018 legislative session with senior legislators, and another on the status of Medicaid transformation in Eastern Washington.

This year, we also captured two good podcasts for you.  We recorded our panels with Democratic legislators and with Republican policy makers as well.  Both are great discussions on what’s coming in health policy in Olympia, and a good run down of what legislators are thinking.