5 Things Oregon: Lessons from CA, Facebook seeks health data, health disparities

If there is a more disappointing way to end this NBA season than two Trailblazer losses at home, I don’t know what it is…  Looking towards health policy to cheer me up isn’t a useful salve. Increased regulatory activism, heart ache among providers, and stubborn health disparities are on our radar this month.

But, hey, at least Facebook stopped trying to get your health data – for the time being.


1.  “Kind of terrifying stuff, bordering on creepy”

According to a CNBC report, Facebook worked for over a year to develop a partnership with hospitals to match up health data with Facebook user profiles.  The work reportedly continued into last month until the Cambridge Analytica story broke.  Apparently, the intent “was to combine what a health system knows about its patients (such as: person has heart disease, is age 50, takes 2 medications and made 3 trips to the hospital this year) with what Facebook knows” about you.

Notably, Facebook has already secured the personal endorsement of the Interim CEO of the American College of Cardiology, who provided a statement in support of Facebook. That means a lot of stakeholder work has already been done on this project.


2.  Lessons from CA’s anti-competitive lawsuit

Last month, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health, alleging anti-competitive practices that result in higher healthcare costs. Sutter Health has called the lawsuit “factually inaccurate.”

Former Governor John Kitzhaber offers his thoughts on the lawsuit, and the implications it has for Oregon. He cites a study showing Oregon’s average health care prices are between 11% to 16% higher than regional averages.

“The California lawsuit against Sutter is an early warning that excessively high prices generated through aggregation and market leverage are neither sustainable nor justifiable. It should be increasingly clear that these costs will be brought under control—the question is not if, but how.”


3.  Video: Tresa Thomas Massiongale, Bloodworks NW

Tresa Thomas Massiongale is the Chief Investment & Partnership Officer at Bloodworks NW, where she is dedicated to fundraising to accelerate research and save lives. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the blood supply shortage.

“[It’s] not widely known how precarious the blood supply actually is. At any given time, about 40 percent of the U.S. population is technically eligible to give blood. About 4 percent of people do. We’re seeing multiple downward pressures in the blood industry.”


4.  #Thosewecarry a stirring narrative of provider trauma

The Twitter account The Haunted One and the hashtag #thosewecarry provide a glimpse into the realities health care providers face. It also reveals the system’s shortcomings in addressing provider burnout and emotional and mental health as providers seek comfort online, often anonymously.

We’ve curated some of the tweets at State of Reform, but you might find time to read the other stories of providers – both clinical and administrative (like 911 dispatchers) – dealing with the trauma of lives they couldn’t save.  They’re hard to read, but serve as a reminder of the emotional cost of providing care.


5.  Health disparities across Oregon’s counties

recent report reveals the significant health disparities that exist between counties in Oregon. The report evaluated both health outcomes and health factors for all 36 counties in the state. For both measurements, Washington, Benton, and Clackamas counties rank in the top three.

Between counties, rates of adults with poor to fair health range from 10 percent in Clackamas County to 21 percent in Malheur County. Child poverty rates range from a low of 11 percent in Clackamas to a high of 40 percent in Wheeler. Teen birth rates per 1,000 vary from 7 in Benton to 51 in Malheur. You can explore the data here.