5 Things Oregon: Kitzhaber, Hultberg, Prov/CareOR deal

It’s been a transformational last few weeks for Oregon health care. From personnel changes to organizational shifts, we cover some of that below – and we don’t even touch on the clash between Centene and Portland-area hospitals…


DJ 5 Things Signature

With help from Emily Boerger



1. “Don Quixote” goes to Washington DC

National Democratic figures are laying the ground work for health reform policy in a new administration, hoping that the 2020 election will swing their way. One of the quieter but perhaps more influential players in this discussion is former Governor John Kitzhaber.  He has been quietly convening key federal policy advocates, both in public and privately, relying on some of the key figures that helped land the $1.9bn in waiver funds in 2012.

I spent a few days with Gov. Kitzhaber on a recent trip to DC as he was trying to focus the opinion of DC insiders away from a solution, and towards a better understanding of the problem. “Medicare for All is really a financing mechanism. And, if we don’t reform the underlying delivery system, the way we finance it won’t get at the root problems of quality in health care.”


2. OAHHS hires Becky Hultberg

Last week, news broke that the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS) has named Becky Hultberg their new President and CEO. Hultberg is an important addition to the Oregon health care and health policy community. She is among the most prominent public policy advocates in Alaska where she leads the hospital association there as CEO.

Based on her work in Alaska, I think there are three key things to know about her leadership that will be relevant for Oregon health policy. Hultberg takes over the role from retiring CEO Andy Davidson in December.

3. Providence, CareOregon enter affiliation agreement

Providence and CareOregon have announced they will enter into an agreement which will see CareOregon “join the Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) organization pending necessary regulatory and organizational approvals.” This marks a significant move into Medicaid that Providence Health Plan (PHP) has explored for the better part of the last decade. With CareOregon, PHP now brings on significant talent, systems, and infrastructure to support its population health strategy.

While the final deal will take time to shake out, I think there are probably four key takeaways from this deal. Bottom line: This is a significant deal for Oregon that will likely change the landscape of health care in the state.


4.  Thank you to our Convening Panel!

We hosted our Convening Panel meeting last week to talk through the topics and speakers that you’ll see on the agenda at the 2019 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference. It’s one of the most important steps in the process leading up to this year’s event on November 12.

You can expect about 400 of Oregon’s most important health care executives, thought leaders, and policy advocates to be in attendance. If you already know you want to be with us, you can still save a few bucks on registration with our Early Bird prices. We’d be honored to have you join us!


5. Elway poll: broad support for universal care

A new poll from Elway Research finds that three-fourths of Oregon respondents believe that universal health care in the United States is desirable, and 36% are willing to pay a new tax to achieve it. The poll dives into possible financing for universal care, health insurance satisfaction, and reasons why Oregonians might be for or against a universal care tax.

“Of course, this is not a vote,” cautions Stuart Elway, president of Elway Research, who conducted the poll. “Still, with 6 in 10 respondents open to a measure that would eliminate or replace private insurance, establish a new state agency and a new health care tax to fund it, these findings indicate that Oregon voters are ready to have that discussion.”