5 Things Washington: Doug Bowes, Providence, Cascade Care

With our 2019 Inland NW State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up in two weeks, some of what we’re watching in health care also shows up on the Topical Agenda for Spokane.

So, if you’re interested in some of the more timely, more practical conversations in health care and health policy, come join about 300 of the smartest folks you’ll meet in Washington State health care on September 10th!


DJ 5 Things Signature

With help from Emily Boerger



1. Implementing Cascade Care

Washington State’s public option legislation was a first-in-the nation approach to using a consumer-centric, policy-driven health plan to bring pressure to the insurance market. It was one of the most talked about health policy issues of the legislative session, and one that will have a significant impact on the marketplace.

Our panel on the subject at the 2019 Inland Northwest State of Reform Conference will discuss how the bill came about, and what implementation will look like as it progresses. Joining the conversation is Senator David Frockt, Senate sponsor of the Cascade Care legislation, Mich’l Needham, Chief Policy Officer at the Health Care Authority, and Molly Voris, Director of Policy at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.


2. “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 Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. He spoke at our conference back in 2017. 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.”

3. Leadership lessons from provider organizations

Navigating the challenging waters of health reform isn’t easy. Transforming an organization to better deliver on value, quality, and cost is easier said than done. So, we are lucky that this group of provider leaders will join us on September 10 to offer their observations and experience from careers at the head of provider organizations.

On this panel, we’ll hear from Jeff Thomas, CEO of Frontier Behavioral Health, Bob Marsalli, CEO of the Washington Association for Community Health, and Greg Repetti, President of MultiCare Valley Hospital. Having honest conversations about leadership from peers in the industry is a unique opportunity, so I’d encourage you to check this one out.

4. Video: Doug Bowes, UnitedHealthcare

Doug Bowes is the CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community and State in Washington. He’s also one of the most committed leaders in the state to supporting the kind of cross-silo conversations we hold at State of Reform. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the importance of ensuring that programs are working, and shifting toward collaboration and integration.

“You know, we’ve got, sort of, six levels of collaboration starting from those folks that are fee-for-service (who really haven’t collaborated), to over here we’ve got the group that’s got behavioral health and has everything in there and they’re ready to take risk. And everybody else is in between… I think [moving providers along that spectrum] is a huge lift that’s probably going to take two or three years.”


5. Providence buys Oregon’s largest MCO

In case you missed it, last week Providence announced it was acquiring Oregon’s largest Medicaid plan, which serves as the backbone for four of the state’s heralded CCOs. I offered four observations about what the deal means for the two organizations, but there’s one point I wanted to highlight for our Washington readers.

This positions Providence particularly well for expansion into Medicaid on the payer side in other states. It’s already working its way into the space in Alaska. It’s having a range of conversations in California ahead of the 2020 Medi-Cal re-procurement.

And, if acquisition is the only way to enter the MCO space in Washington in the near term, Prov’s deal in Oregon to acquire an FQHC-network health plan could be a road map here.