5 Things Washington: Public option roll-out, Topical Agenda, Catherine Field

DJ is taking a well-deserved vacation, so I’m bringing you the next two editions of 5 Things We’re Watching. I’m the senior reporter here at State of Reform, where I’m usually covering health care in Washington and a number of other states. Feel free to email me any feedback or tips on what you think we should be covering.

DJ will be back in July, but until then, here’s what we’re watching in Washington health care!

Emily Boerger
State of Reform


1. Public option kick-off event

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee was joined by a group of legislators, patients, and state health leaders to discuss the roll-out of Washington’s public option. The diverse group of stakeholders highlighted next steps in development, key issues and questions to address when creating the plan, and what the overarching goals for the public option are.

Improving affordability and access, a focus on the standard benefit design, and the importance of Washington State as a model for the rest of the country were all highlighted in the meeting. Our coverage of the event is available here.

2. ICYMI: Our Topical Agenda is now out!

In case you missed it, we recently released our Topical Agenda for the 2019 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference. With over 300 senior health care executives and health policy leaders expected in attendance, State of Reform will be a “can’t miss” event. We’ll be exploring policy and politics in health care, evaluating opportunities and setbacks in reform, and diving deep into costs, disruptions, and care delivery.

Check out our Convening Panel to get an idea of those who helped put our agenda together. As always, if you have any suggestions on what we should include or potential speakers, you can send those our way. If you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us!

3. Coverage of BH Subcommittee interim meeting

On Wednesday, the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee held a meeting on a broad range of behavioral health topics. Among several issues discussed, the subcommittee focused on collaborations taking place within Snohomish County Human Services aimed at connecting homeless individuals with resources and diverting people who are struggling with their mental health away from jail.

Legislators heard an update on three collaborations in Snohomish County: the Law Enforcement Embedded Social Workers program, the Snohomish County Diversion Center, and the Carnegie Resource Center. According to presenters at the meeting, the area has seen decreases in crime, and increased resource connections for homeless individuals, thanks to these types of partnerships.

4. Video: Catherine Field, Humana

Catherine Field is the Market President at Humana. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the stability of CMS changes.

“In Medicare Advantage, which is my focus and interest, I really just say, “please keep the program as consistent and stable as possible.” That really allows organizations, such as ours but [also] our provider partners, to be able to adapt and change in a pace that is reasonable and that we can move in. When you make radical, quick changes, nobody can accommodate quite that quickly.”


5. Executive order on price transparency

President Trump signed an executive order yesterday aimed at lowering health care costs by providing patients with plan pricing. The order directs HHS to develop a new set of rules to provide price transparencies to patients, by clearly stating out-of-pocket costs before receiving care.

Within 60 days of this order, Secretary Azar is mandated to propose a regulation that would require hospitals to post pricing of care and charges of products. Within 90 days, the secretary will seek public comment on a proposal to require health care providers, insurers, and plans to provide price information. And within 180 days, the secretary and the attorney general will issue a report highlighting the ways in which the Federal Government or private-sector plans are impeding health care price competition, and recommend ways to mitigate this.