5 Things Oregon: Blue Button 2.0, Topical Agenda, Drug price transparency

We are about 8 weeks out from our 2019 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference and registration is already well ahead of previous years. There’s a reasonable chance we will actually sell out this year, given the space allowances at the hotel. So, if you know you want to be with us and about 450 other senior health care executives and health policy leaders in Oregon, get signed up so that you don’t have to worry about getting a seat on November 12th!


With help from Emily Boerger



1. Health interim committee holds meeting

On Monday, Oregon’s House Interim Committee on Health Care held a meeting to hear an update on a number of items including the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Program, which was put in place in 2018 through HB 4005. The program requires health insurance companies and drug manufacturers to report on changes to prescription drug costs and pricing in an effort to foster transparency.

During the meeting, DCBS presented on the first combined list of the most expensive drugs in Oregon since the transparency program went into effect. DCBS officials stated that almost 300 drug manufacturers have created accounts with the program. Since reporting began in March, the program has received over 700 reports from the manufacturers. Of these, 176 have reported new high cost drugs and 534 reported annual price increases.

2. ICYMI: Our Topical Agenda is now out!

In case you missed it, we recently released our Topical Agenda for the 2019 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference on November 12th. With over 450 senior health care executives and health policy leaders expected in attendance, State of Reform has turned into 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, the social determinants, and disruptions in the market.

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 my way. If you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us!

3. “Blue Button” and 21st Century Cures Act

Two of the more interesting happenings in data that you probably haven’t heard about may quickly push the sector towards greater consumerism. The Blue Button 2.0 initiative out of HHS will provide Medicare (and aspirationally Medicaid) claims data to app developers and coders. The idea is to allow entrepreneurs to build business models and services using this data to offer consumers better tools to navigate the health care ecosystem.

The 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that got little coverage outside of DC, tech, or drug sectors, requires that patients be able to access all of their electronic health information at no cost. A proposed ONC rule sets that implementation deadline at January 1st. Meanwhile, the bill allows for fast-tracking at the FDA of new medical devices. For example, recently the first “autonomous artificially intelligent medical device” was approved. This topic was of particular interest during our Convening Panel discussion.

4.  DOJ looking at Prov-Swedish deal

In a recent quarterly report from Providence St. Joseph, the hospital system disclosed that it was under investigation by the US Department of Justice. From the filing: “On July 22, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice served Swedish Health Services with a Civil Investigative Demand requesting documents pertaining to certain arrangements and joint ventures and physician organizations.”

The report shows Providence made $250m (operating income) through the first six months of 2019 on a book of business of $12.6b. Modern Healthcare provides a good run down of recent Prov headlines, both positive and negative.


5. A subtle shift among health care leadership

Demographically, Oregon is pretty progressive. The Cook Political Report ranks it the 11th most progressive state politically. But, just a few years ago, the CEOs of many of Oregon’s health care institutions were white men. Some of them were prominently antagonistic to the state’s more progressive culture. In recent years, that has shifted considerably, one hire at a time.

In fact, almost every new CEO hire in Oregon health care in recent years has been either a woman or a person of color. CareOregonPeaceHealthLegacyKaiser, Providence (both plan and Oregon hospitals, though not the system overall), Health Share (both former and interim CEO), Regence BCBS of Oregon, OAHHSOHSUCentral City Concern, and of course in the governor’s mansion, too. I’m sure there are others I’m missing. Taken together, it’s a noticeable and meaningful shift. For those that recognize diversity strengthens a community and a leadership team, this trend is a good one for Oregon health care.