5 Things Oregon: Implications from FamilyCare, John Kitzhaber, Measure 101

Welcome to 2018!  The new years holiday already seems like months ago. We’ve got original content and curation for you across Oregon’s health care system, as well as from beyond it. So, with that, here are 5 Things We’re Watching in Oregon health care for January.

Thanks, as always, for reading our stuff.

DJ 5 Things Signature

1.  Four implications of FamilyCare’s closing

I’m reminded of my Churchill as I reflect on FamilyCare and OHA’s tussle that has drawn to a close a relationship that, in different forms, goes back 34 years: “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

To that end, I think there are four important implications of this closing that will likely have a meaningful impact on Oregon health care for years.  One is don’t expect Jeff Heatherington to retire. He is now “super empowered.”  Another is this:  don’t mess with Patrick Allen.

2. John Kitzhaber should lead OHSU

To its credit, OHSU is being very transparent about its search for a new president. It has posted its job description, the list of board members on the recruitment committee, and made much of the process visible to the public at its website

In reviewing their materials, I think there are five reasons OHSU should hire John Kitzhaber to be their next President.

Joe Robertson leaves big shoes to fill.  Moreover, OHSU is on the cusp of being one of the most significant forces for genome-specific therapy and care in the world. The search is and should be national in scope. But, if you’re looking for someone that understands where health care is going, how deeply rooted it is to the community, and how much it is a bridge to the future, I think the national figure OHSU is looking for probably lives right in Oregon.

3.  Video: Eric Schulz on Medicaid funding

Eric Schulz is a senior manager and healthcare business advisor at Aldrich Advisors. Schulz joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to talk about funding the Medicaid program in Oregon and his predictions on the upcoming Measure 101 ballot initiative.

“I think it’s a really strong possibility that [the initiative] will likely not pass. And the hole that it will create in our Medicaid budget will not be simply contained within the Medicaid program. It will be such a large hole that it will bleed out of the Medicaid program and into things such as schools, public works, and public safety. So, I think we have a very dangerous time ahead of ourselves budgetarily as a state because of this one single issue with the ballot initiative.”

4.  JP Morgan: a mirror onto ourselves?

JP Morgan’s conference for investors in health care was last week.  There were about 10,000 attendees that were in or “around” the event. It’s one of the biggest events on the bio-pharma and digital medicine calendar. It’s also “a mosh pit of power and insecurity — along with sleeplessness and excessive consumption of alcohol.” Nevertheless, it’s something of a mirror for an industry that continues to generate more money than good sense, sometimes.

Sadly, there were more CEOs named Michael presenting than all of the women presenters combined.

“We are in the middle of a bubble in all health care asset classes. Everyone knows it, but no one knows how it will end.”

The disruptive threat from Amazon is a primary driver of increasing M&A activity, not efficiency.

Shockingly for non-scientists, one “panel on gene therapy acknowledged that reimbursement might just be the trickiest part of these innovative therapies.”

5.  Record low turnout for measure 101

According to the Secretary of State’s office, only 16.4% of ballots have been returned through January 15th for next week’s special election. That is a lower level of voter participation at this point in the campaign than any special election since 2000. The average level of turnout at this point in a campaign is 32.6%.

Generally speaking, this means the electorate is going to be older, whiter, and more conservative than the electorate as a whole. That probably skews against passage, though good polling on this question has not been made public.