5 Things Washington: House Speaker election, Deb Murphy, Rural residency programs

I’m in DC this week as part of a group thinking through what might be possible for national health reform in 2021. Regardless of who wins in 2020, there will be continued demand for some action on health care at the federal level. It seems to me, however, that the best policy and best politics likely center on empowering states rather than supplanting them – an outgrowth, in part, of the patchwork approach to ACA implementation across the country. More on this piece soon, but until then, here are 5 Things We’re Watching in Washington State health care in July, 2019.


DJ 5 Things Signature

With help from Emily Boerger 

1. New House Democratic leader chosen next week

The biggest thing happening in Washington State politics in the next few weeks may be the election of the next leader of the House Democratic Caucus. The person will become the presumptive Speaker. Rep. June Robinson of Everett and Rep. Monica Stonier appear to be leading the pack in what has become a tight race, I’m told. You can read recent interviews with both candidates here: Stonier and Robinson.

In addition to either candidate becoming the first woman to hold the Speaker’s gavel, she will also become the first caucus leader from outside of Seattle since Frank Chopp took the reins in 1995. Both Democratic caucuses will be led by members outside of the Seattle Democratic core. Recall that Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig hails from Spokane. That said, Chopp was the first Seattle member to lead the caucus since 1962 when Rep. John L. O’Brien ran the show.

2. Q&A: Deb Murphy, CEO of LeadingAge WA

LeadingAge Washington is a statewide association that represents nonprofits and mission-focused senior care providers. Reporter Emily Boerger recently spoke with Deb Murphy, CEO of LeadingAge WA, about the recent uptick of skilled nursing facility closures across the state in this Q&A.

Their conversation touches on the scope of the issue, what’s causing these closures, and the ways in which the legislature might bring about potential solutions. “At some point the state has to step up and pay their share of the cost of caring for low income seniors in our state in our licensed settings,” says Murphy.

3. Rural WA residency program grants

HHS announced last week that two Washington organizations will receive a total of $1,498,983 in grant funding as part of the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program (RRPD). The state’s two recipients — Grays Harbor County Public Hospital District 1 and Washington State University – will each receive nearly $750,000 over three years to develop new rural residency programs.

The funding awarded to WSU will be used by the university’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine for a family medicine residency program at Pullman Regional Hospital. Money granted to Grays Harbor County Public Hospital District 1, Summit Pacific Medical Center, is slated for the district’s critical access hospital. The grants come as part of $20 million awarded to 21 different states by HHS.

4. Video: Ashanthi De Silva

Ashanthi De Silva is the Rare Disease Editor at The Mighty. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss Medicare for All.

“We see that people are struggling to get even basic medications for very common conditions, like diabetes, struggling to get insulin. So, for the most common conditions this is beneficial, and for those with rare conditions, it’s extremely beneficial and I think cost-saving in the long run.”


5. Gov. Inslee’s national health care plan

Last week saw a flurry of new health care proposals from 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. This includes Governor Inslee who introduced his “Putting Families First” plan which, among other issues, includes proposals on universal coverage, Medicaid expansion, drug pricing transparency, and the social determinants of health.

Inslee’s plan builds upon recent health reforms in Washington, and calls for a national public option, improvements to integrated care coordination, and a National Paid Family and Medical Leave program.