5 Things Washington: Frank Chopp, Re-Wire Policy Conference, Merissa Clyde

We’ll make some decisions in the next few days about which Pre-Conference Sessions to put together.  If you’re interested in attending one, and voting through your registration on which “deep dive” we should host, please check out the page here.  We’ll pick three and move forward, refunding or re-assigning your registration if your panel isn’t chosen – whichever you’d like.

Forty-two days left till the 2019 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference at the Westin Seattle – and more than 300 of you have already signed up to be with us…

We’re humbled and appreciative…  Thanks very much for your engagement and your support.


DJ 5 Things SignatureWith help from Marjie High and
Emily Boerger.


1. The implications of Frank Chopp’s resignation

Frank Chopp’s announcement that he is stepping down from the position of speaker is a big deal for Washington State politics, though most of the direct implications will be nuanced and felt more acutely inside the House Democratic Caucus.  I outline three more subtle implications from his stepping down here. 

The real question for health policy geeks from Chopp’s stepping aside is what impact it will have on Eileen Cody and her consideration of retirement from the legislature. She and Chopp have been connected at the hip since Chopp’s first speaker race where she stepped aside and let him take the gavel. From Cody in a 2009 piece: “Frank called me up and said, ‘You’ll step down if I decide to run?’  I said, ‘Damn straight. You can have it, honey.’ ”

It’ll be a different place without Chopp.  But there will be other Speakers of the House.  There won’t be another Eileen Cody.


2. WA health care prices higher than national average

The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) processed 1.78 billion commercial claims filed between 2012 and 2016 across 112 U.S. metro areas to produce Volume 1 of its Healthy Marketplace Index. In Washington state, the report evaluated both the Seattle areas and Spokane-Spokane Valley. In both metro areas, health care prices were above the national average.

The interactive report broke down health care prices by type of service (inpatient, outpatient, and professional) which you can explore here. The index also evaluated how quickly prices grew in these metro areas. From 2012-2016, the Seattle metro area’s health care prices grew 12 percent, Spokane area prices grew 17 percent, and the national average growth rate was 16 percent.


3. 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference!

Our sister site, the Washington State Wire, covers regulated markets across the Washington State economy and policy world.  Like State of Reform, it’s a non-partisan, policy agnostic platform that attempts to bridge the gap between regulated markets and regulating agencies.

On December 13th, we’ll host the 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center. The event covers the full range of topics teed up for the 2019 legislature – from the public records act to #metoo. You can take a look at our Topical Agenda and the Detailed Agenda to see the impressive list of topics and speakers that we have teed up!

We have about 20 elected officials lined up to speak among a set of more than 60 speakers.  It’s a great event, and we’d love to have you with us!

4.  Video: Merissa Clyde, SEIU 775 Benefits Group

Merissa Clyde is the Managing Director, Health Benefits Administration at SEIU 775 Benefits Group, which serves over 50,000 caregivers through health and wellness programs. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss new behavioral health programs.

“One of our big focus areas over the last couple of years has been piloting different kinds of behavioral health programs that are new and a little bit different. So, we are able to now, after we’ve piloted a few, start to scale them to our full population, including a couple that are really interesting. One is a text based coaching app that allows people to access behavioral health coaching and actually just life coaching within 30 to 45 seconds of downloading the app.”


5. Feasibility study results: standard plan designs

As part of their efforts to improve the value and affordability of plans in the individual insurance market, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is exploring standard plan options in the Washington Exchange market. The exchange contracted with Wakely Consulting to produce a feasibility study exploring the potential impact of standard plans on the Washington Exchange Market and to develop model plans at bronze, silver and gold metal levels.

Results from the study indicate that standard plans “can be structured with lower deductibles, more services before the deductible… without significantly impacting premiums.” Molly Voris, Director of Policy at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, says the next steps are to continue to gauge the interest of stakeholders. If they move forward with this option, the earliest Washington residents could see standard plans is plan year 2021.