5 Things Washington: Gary Kaplan, INW Topical Agenda, #SeaHomeless

To create a local conference series and information outlet for the health care space that is non-partisan, policy agnostic, and independent, we need a certain level of scale. What that means is that we have nine conferences planned for this year, with three new markets slated for 2019. At that point, I think we’ll be able to slow our geographic expansion, and focus our resources on building out our content even further: state capital bureaus, long form video work, and investigative reporting.

That’s the future. But, it’s taken us eight years to get here. And, it’s only happened because our community of readers, speakers, sponsors and conference attendees support us.  So, thank you for everything you have done to support this new model of health care media and information at State of Reform. We’re thankful every day for your support.


1.  Our Topical Agenda for our upcoming Spokane conference

We’re actively recruiting speakers and filling panels on our agenda for the 2018 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up on September 13th.  So, we’re having conversations with folks across the spectrum of care. Those include a new health tech incubator at WSU, the latest on value based purchasing, and the new Regional Director for HHS in the Trump administration.

This event is a unique one. It’s got a number of the personalities, politicos and players in the health care space today – but from across the state rather than just Eastern Washington.  Plus, parking is better than Seattle…

So, you should take a look at the Topical Agenda, scout our list of Convening Panel members so you know who is helping to build the conference, and get registered to join us in 7 weeks!


2. Video: Gary Kaplan, Virginia Mason

Gary Kaplan has been the CEO of Virginia Mason since 2000. Under his leadership, Virginia Mason has received national and international recognition as a leader in quality health care. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the importance of staying true to your mission.

“As a health system CEO, my very first priority has to be ensuring that our organization stays true to our mission and our vision, that I’m attending to the needs of Virginia Mason, and ensuring that we are on a path to stay healthy and to continue to attract the very best people so that we can do what we’re really all about, which is take care of patients and families. So I spend a lot of time thinking about how to ensure that that happens in a very dynamic, competitive marketplace.”



3.  #SeaHomeless coordinated by local media outlets

Last week, State of Reform joined other local media outlets in building the #SeaHomeless day of coverage. For one day, the media collectively poured resources into highlighting the issue across all of our platforms. Our coverage elevated the health care needs of the homeless, and the barriers they face when trying to access care. At our sister site, Washington State Wire, we covered the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ youth who are homeless.

For other reading, GeekWire put together this article that dives into what other cities and states are doing to address homelessness. Crosscut published this piece examining the significant human-animal bond between those experiencing homelessness and their pets. This Seattle Times article takes a look into the experimental tiny house village in Licton Springs that allows drug use.


4.  HHS has a new Regional Director

The Trump administration has appointed its new Regional Director for HHS Region X: John Graham.  He comes to Seattle from DC where he held a position in the Humphrey Building at HHS.  He replaces Susan Johnson who retired in January, 2017. The Regional Director’s role is to be the ‘eyes and ears’ in the states for the HHS DC leadership team. Region X covers WA, OR, ID, and AK.

Graham was warm and friendly during an extended meeting we had with him earlier this week.  He also offered to write an occasional column for us from time to time, which we look forward to sharing with readers. He said he read State of Reform for California health care news while he was based in that state earlier in his career, and is trying to move his calendar around to join us in Spokane in two months.

5.  Changes to Medicaid funding for SUD

CMS has approved an amendment to the state’s Medicaid Transformation wavier. The Health Care Authority can now receive federal Medicaid funding for services to treat substance use disorders (SUD) that are offered in Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD).

IMDs are facilities larger than 16 beds that primarily provide treatment of mental health or substance use disorders. Washington has 1,742 beds across 21 facilities that meet the definition of an IMD. As of June, 11 states had approved IMD waivers and 12 states had pending IMD waivers with CMS.

In other behavioral health news, last week the Washington State Department of Commerce announced $39 million in grants to 18 behavioral health providers to create 341 additional beds.