5 Things Washington: NPN & DaVita, Lani Todd, US Senate

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was fabulous, your family was kept all safe and warm, and that all of your clothes still fit perfectly!

This time of year is always a good reminder to say thank you to those of you cheering us on, who partner with us to bring thoughtful content our community, and who are working – in big ways and small – to keep pushing the system forward.  Thanks for what you do.

DJ 5 Things Signature

1.  DaVita acquires NPN in Tacoma 

The news is public this afternoon that Northwest Physicians Network has been acquired by DaVita Medical Group. NPN joins The Everett Clinic (TEC) as a second major acquisition by DaVita in the Washington State market recently.

NPN is an IPA of roughly 1,000 physicians. It acts as a risk bearing entity for managed care contracts for the physicians in the South Puget Sound.  In a 2016 call with investors, DaVita was critical of TEC’s financial performance, citing lower fee-for-service revenue than target. Because NPN is primarily a managed care administrator, it will be interesting to watch how the organization approaches managed care, compared to fee-for-service, under the new arrangement.

Notably, the Polyclinic has been rumored to be looking for investors and/or affiliation partners.  DaVita is rumored to be in those conversations. I don’t have direct knowledge of these talks, and the rumors I hear are at least one person removed, but if DaVita were to close on a deal with Polyclinic, when combined with TEC and NPN, that would signal a fundamental shift in the Puget Sound physician market from a few years ago.

2.  2018 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference 

We are really excited to be building what is likely our largest conference ever coming up on January 4th!  I expect a sell out crowd of 650 attendees this year, and based on early registration numbers, that may happen before the end of the year.  You should take a look at our updated Topical Agenda, which we’ve adjusted based on the feedback of our Convening Panel, sponsors, and our readers.

But, don’t wait to get registered.  If you have been to State of Reform before, you know it can be tight!  Once we sell out, we likely won’t have any more room to accommodate late registrants.

Also, be sure to take a look at our Pre-Conference sessions.  These are “deep dive” sessions that will include custom developed curricula, an executive presentation, a panel discussion, and lots of engaged dialog.  They are limited to 25 attendees at each session, but each has room still. We’ll have a reception to follow the pre-conference as well, which will be open to our registered attendees for the full conference.  So, we’d love to have you with us.

3.  US Senate vote this week

Like the “Skinny repeal” bill earlier this year, the vote count for the Senate tax bill looks to be very close this week.  To “sweeten” the deal, and get Sen. Murkowski on board, a provision opening ANWR to drilling has been added.  To pay for a portion of the costs of the tax cuts, a provision repealing the individual mandate is included in the bill, too.  This would result in a 10% increase in annual premiums, and a reduction of coverage of 4 million in 2019, and of 13 million by 2027, according to the CBO.

The vote is set for Thursday, depending on whether Sen. McConnell thinks he has the votes. Nine members are still skeptical, by this count.  The Senate Budget Committee has just voted today to pass the bill by a 12-11 vote. Sen. Murray was a key figure in the opposition on the committee.

4.  Thank you, United Healthcare and Virginia Mason

I wanted to continue the season of gratitude by thanking United Healthcare.  Doug, Amina and the team on the Community and State side of United have been great and long standing supporters of State of Reform going back to 2012.  They helped us launch the Inland Northwest event in Spokane, and have offered repeatedly to connect us with speakers, stories and ideas well beyond the four walls of their organization – and often beyond the state.

Along with United Healthcare, and Premera Blue Cross, Virginia Mason is one of our three Event Sponsors for our 2018 event in SeaTac. To Gary, Kerry, Ross and the team there, thank you for your support and being such tremendous leaders among our hospital and health care community in Washington State. You are doing things the right way at VM.  I know it’s hard. But, I think the health care community is proud of you and your contribution to quality care in Washington State.

5. Video: Lani Todd at SEIU 775

Lani Todd is the Legislative and Policy Director for SEIU 775, which represents over 45,000 long-term care workers in Washington State and Montana. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the future of Medicaid during a period of efforts to repeal and reform the Affordable Care Act.

“At a defensive level, I’m obviously really worried about Medicaid cuts. But at an offensive level, making sure that we’re thinking of what the aging population means, and what it means in terms of access to care, but also in terms of the fact that we have a long term care system, where the long term care insurance market’s falling apart, and that people have to buy themselves down into Medicaid to get any coverage.”