5 Things Hawaii: Judy Mohr Peterson, California primary, Dept. of Health

We now cover state level health policy in six states:  HI, OR, WA, CA, AK, and TX.  So, this month, we continue our independent reporting, analysis and commentary on Hawaii, including additional stories on Hawaii health care here.  We also add in something from the AP and one from California.  If that’s not enough, the Dallas Morning News has a blistering series on managed care you can read.

I highlight this because you’re welcome to sign up for any additional newsletters on these other states by updating your email preferences here.  We’d be happy to have you.

1.  Video: Judy Mohr Peterson

Dr. Judy Mohr Peterson is the Med-QUEST Administrator at the Hawaii Department of Human Services. She’s done extensive work on Hawaii’s 1115 Waiver application and in this edition of “What They’re Watching” she joins us to talk about how the waiver will make both short-term and long-term investments.

“We’re taking an approach of investing in both the long-term and the short-term at the same time. So we want to invest in health education, primary care and the promotion of health. So that’s our long-term investment… And then our short-term investment is focusing on complex patients, individuals of high-needs, complex health needs, they use a lot of health care resources.”

2.  What California’s primary election means for health care politics in US

California isn’t in Hawaii, of course.  But, today is California’s gubernatorial primary election day where health care has been prominently featured as among the most important differentiating policy areas of the campaign.  Marjie High on our team gives a run down of how single payer health care has been of primary political importance there.

In fact, I think the experience in this year’s California race could have significant implications for future state and federal races.  I detail three of those implications here.  Certainly, Hawaii may continue it’s role as a unique and different model of health care in the US.  But, California’s outsized impact on both politics and policy may presage future discussion to come – both at the national level and other states.

3. Hawaii’s health system performance best in nation

report on states’ health system performance by the Commonwealth Fund rates Hawaii’s as best in the nation. Hawaii ranks first in access and affordability, avoidable hospital use and cost, and disparity. The state comes in second for healthy lives and ninth for prevention and treatment.

However the report also reveals areas of improvement. Hawaii ranked 49th for adults with mental illness who didn’t receive treatment, 46th for home health patients who did not improve mobility, and 42nd for children who didn’t receive needed mental health treatment. You can explore the data here.

4.  Implications of changes at Dept. of Health

May 31st was Dr. Virginia Pressler’s last day as Director of the Hawaii State Department of Health. Dr. Bruce Anderson has been named as interim director.  Bruce has a unique background in health care and environment protection. He previously served as Director of Health under Gov. Cayetano and as President & CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. He’s spent the last two years as Administrator of the Division of Aquatic Resources at the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources.

Given the pending election for governor and the uncertainty there, it’s likely Anderson’s role at the Department will be to provide a steadying hand, implementing the policy vision Pressler built and the legislature affirmed.  It’s unlikely to be a source of new innovation over the next 6-12 months.

5.  AP issues ruling: “health care”

You’ve struggled with it at some point in your career.  We all have. But, apparently, now there is new clarity for us all.  The AP Stylebook has decided that it is “health care” not “healthcare” – two words, and not one.  Naturally not everyone agrees with this decision.

That said, because our goal is to foster constructive conversations in health care today, and because we know there might be some pain in the transition for some in moving from healthcare to health care, we worked hard to bring you this high tech tool to support your team during this switch.  It looks great on the wall of your break room or cubicle…