5 Things Hawaii: Michael Gold, Hilton Raethel, Brian Schatz

I hope your week has been full of treats rather than tricks! Last night was full of too much candy at our house. We’ll be trying to siphon off sugar from our kids’ stockpile for the next few days without them knowing…  I wish us all luck.

We’re working with our Convening Panel to build our 2018 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up on January 10th!  It’s right around the corner. And, if you know you want to be with us already, you can save a few bucks by registering at the Early Bird rate.

Mahalo nui for reading our stuff, and for joining us on January 10th!

DJ 5 Things Signature


1.  Michael Gold, CEO of HMSA, retiring

Michael Gold, the CEO of the Hawaii Medical Service Association, has announced he will retire at the end of the year after being with the company for 43 years and serving as CEO since 2012. Gold has led the company through the rollout of the ACA, payment transformation, and the first telehealth system offered by a health insurer.

Gold will be replaced by Michael Stollar, HMSA’s President and Chief Operating Officer. You can check out our interview with Stollar from earlier this year on HMSA’s outlook, approach and culture.  Or, watch his keynote address at the 2017 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference.



2. Video:  Hilton Raethel, HAH

Hilton Raethel is the President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, a nonprofit healthcare trade organization that includes nearly all of Hawaii’s hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, hospices, and home care companies. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the care we receive at the end of life.

“One of the other trends, good trends that is happening is we’re starting to increase the awareness of what should happen at the end of life. We are increasing the use of palliative care, the use of hospice care, we’re reducing unwanted care and unnecessary care. And it’s terrible that when you talk about unwanted care that some people are getting care that they wouldn’t want if they really understood what they were getting.”




3.  Convening Panel reviewing agenda for 2018 State of Reform Health Policy Conference

We’re looking forward to hosting more than 300 attendees at our 2018 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up on January 10th!  We will be hosting the conference again this year at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Last month our Convening Panel met to sort through and speak to the various topics we should be teeing up for that agenda. It’s a great group of senior health care executives and health policy leaders, one we’re very proud to be associated with.

We’ll be releasing our Topical Agenda next week.  Expect about 20 panel topics across the full range of health care and health policy issues. If you have ideas about topics or even potential speakers, now is a great time to suggest those. Feel free to drop me a note. Also make sure to register before early bird registration ends on November 17th!


4.  Silver plans more expensive than gold

A few weeks ago, I speculated that President Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) might actually be beneficial for consumers. The increase in premiums for silver plans would result in increased subsidies for consumers. What I wasn’t expecting was that the actuarially richer gold plans would actually be cheaper than silver plans, which is the case for Hawaii and about a dozen other states.

For Hawaiians, the average monthly premium for gold plans is $14 cheaper than the average monthly premium for silver plans ($478 versus $492 before subsidies). Now, that might be a small monthly difference, but I wouldn’t choose to pay $168 more a year for higher out-of-pocket costs.

While the uncertainty surrounding the ACA may cause enrollment to drop this year, enrollees who do sign up on the Exchange might be able to see a reduction in their cost for coverage.


5.  Bryan Schatz “Medicaid for All” bill

US Senator Brian Schatz introduced the State Public Option Act last week, which would allow consumers to buy into their state’s Medicaid program regardless of income.  “Our bill will unlock each state’s Medicaid program to anyone who wants it, giving Americans a high-quality, low-cost public health insurance option on their state’s exchange,” said Senator Schatz. “Our ultimate goal here is to make sure that every American has health care coverage at a price they can afford.”

An estimated 30 million Americans remain uninsured nationally. Hawaii’s uninsured rate remains around 5 percent, a difficult cohort to cover absent some universal coverage model.  Only about 3 percent of Hawaii residents receive coverage through the exchange.

While Schatz’s bill has eighteen co-sponsors, including Bernie Sanders who has his own Medicare for All bill, it’s unlikely this bill moves in this session. Rather, watch to see if the idea gains traction in Democratic campaigns in 2018. That will point to a potential adoption by a candidate in the Democratic primaries for president which starts in 2019.