5 Things Washington: Election night take aways, Teresa Mosqueda, Rebecca Parrish

It was a big night last night in the Wilson household: Karianna won re-election to the Verdant Health Commission!  Sure, it was uncontested, but only because she scared away the competition.

There were plenty of contested races we were watching, too! They are squarely on our radar screen in this edition of 5 Things We’re Watching in Washington State health care.

DJ 5 Things Signature


1.  Take aways from election night

Last night’s election was important for a host of reasons, but there was also a bit of hype. There was no wave election in Washington State, for example. All seven appointed incumbents won their legislative seats last night. I counted 21 of 22 incumbents in local races winning in select larger communities across Washington State. The King County Sheriff looks to be the exception.

The control of the Senate does shift to Democrats, which is important. But, for health policy (and fiscal policy and environmental policy and on and on and on), there may not be a significant shift in policy initiatives. Such policy ideas aren’t teed up for 2018, and where they could be, the votes probably aren’t there even in a Democratic legislature.

Note also about last night:  the central role health policy played in Virginia and Maine.  If it’s a winning issue in those states, it’ll be a winning issue for candidates that push it here, too.


2.  ICYMI: Our Topical Agenda for Jan 4th is out

Last week, we released our Topical Agenda for your review. This represents our first pass at curating the right topics and, ultimately, the right speakers for our 2018 event.  If you have suggested speakers, or perhaps a different topic than we are otherwise missing, drop me a note and let me know.  I’d welcome the input.

By the way, like last year, we are absolutely going to sell out our space at the Hilton Seattle Airport.  So, if you know you want to join us, please register when you can.  We already have close to 200 registrants out of the 650 or so we can have with us.

We’re also going to try something new this year: three pre-conference “deep dive” sessions on January 3rd, the day before our conference. These will be limited to 25 attendees and be about 2 hours in length.  Tomorrow, we’ll post five pre-conference sessions.  The first three to get at least 15 registrants will be the ones we go with. So, stay tuned for that opportunity tomorrow.


3.  Teresa Mosqueda’s “public option” for Seattle

This got a little overlooked, but Seattle City Council Member-Elect Teresa Mosqueda is looking at developing something like a public option health plan for residents in the City of Seattle.  Where the state and feds didn’t take the opportunity to fill this coverage gap, Mosqueda thinks the City can make it work:  “I think it’s definitely possible in a post-ACA world” to have cities deliver health-care services, she says.

The “Healthy Seattle” plan would cover residents not otherwise eligible for Medicaid and who aren’t already insured. It would cover non-citizen residents and middle income folks. Healthy San Francisco, which Mosqueda’s plan is based on, covers residents up to 500% of FPL.

Mosqueda formerly served on the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. She led health policy for the Washington State Labor Council as their chief lobbyist during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She knows her stuff. So, when she gets on the Council, expect this policy discussion to mature.


4.  Inslee appoints HCA director

Susan Birch has been named the new Director of the Health Care Authority. She joins the Inslee administration having previously served in a similar role for Gov. Hickenloper in Colorado. With three years left in Inslee’s second term, and progress on Healthier Washington increasingly less certain, I’m curious about how much she relies on the existing team at the HCA, or tries to bring in her own staff. There are sound arguments for both approaches.

Meanwhile, Gov. Inslee announced this week that he is creating a sub-cabinet to address mental health and substance abuse issues, and to support aligning state government in support of behavioral health integration.  More legislation is set for the 2018 session to align state agencies in support of this work.

It’s notable that the legislation integrating mental and physical health was passed in 2014. I’m not sure what is says that we’re still working on supporting legislation in 2018, but it feels like the momentum behind integration is significantly diminished.


5. Video: Rebecca Parrish

Rebecca Parrish is an Integrative Behavioral Health Clinical Consultant and Social Work Manager at Kaiser Permanente of Washington. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to talk about how Kaiser has integrated behavioral health into primary care.

“So we’ve started our journey to integrating behavioral health into primary care back in 2014/2015 and we really tried to identify what were the specific areas that we would want to try to focus our energies on because there’s a lot of mental health conditions that you could assess for and try to start treating within primary care. And so as a system we decided that really depression, alcohol and substance use disorders were the areas that we wanted to focus on.”