5 Things Washington: Inslee’s “why” problem, Group Health Foundation in politics, Jacquie Owens

We are now 8 weeks out from our 2020 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference…  Momentum is really building, I’m happy to say. And, I think you’ll see from the Topical Agenda, and ultimately our speakers, that our Convening Panel is looking to offer even more cutting edge sessions than usual.

In a time when it feels like we are on the cusp of some significant movement in health care and health policy, I think it’s even more important than ever to have a place where we can gather together to share notes. I hope you see State of Reform as that kind of place, and that you’ll consider joining us on January 9th.



With help from Emily Boerger
and Michael Goldberg


1. Group Health Foundation enters political fray

The Group Health Foundation was the single largest contributor to a 2019 initiative campaign which would have allowed affirmative action tools to be used in state hiring and college admissions. The Foundation contributed more than $550,000 to the Washington Fairness Coalition, a campaign which raised just shy of $1.2m.

This appears to be one of the first large-scale contributions of the new Foundation created by the acquisition of Group Health Cooperative by Kaiser Permanente, and marks a significant political foray by the Foundation which has otherwise largely refrained from significant community engagement.


2. Inslee’s “why” problem

Everyone knows why Gov. Inslee was running for president. If you lived under a rock in Kansas, but had heard his name, you knew he was running because of climate change. He was crystal clear about his “why” in that campaign, and it had an impact. Maybe his support among voters didn’t bounce much, but he shaped climate policy for the entire field of Democratic candidates.

Which is why Inslee has such a huge “why” problem in his campaign for governor. It’s not enough to say “It’s a great job.” It is, I’m sure. But, that’s not terribly compelling to voters, who will look for any reason to vote against an entitled pol.  This is particularly true for Democratic primary voters, many of whom drove Seattle politics leftward this year. Meanwhile, statewide tilted right of center. Neither of those are good for Inslee if he doesn’t have a “why.”

I’m a fan of Inslee’s. I even think of him as a friend. But, if you can’t speak truth to your friends…

3. ICYMI: Our Topical Agenda is now out!

In case you missed it, we recently released our Topical Agenda for the 2020 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference on January 9th. With over 900 senior health care executives and health policy leaders expected in attendance, State of Reform has really become “the most important health policy conference of the year!” 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 our 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!  And, don’t forget to sign up for the Pre-Conference Sessions the day before.  We’ll finalize those next week based on your registration or “votes.”

4. Video: Jacquie Owens, Amerigroup Washington

Jacquie Owens is the Regional Vice President of Provider Solutions at Amerigroup Washington, Inc. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss working with providers on creative value-based purchasing agreements.

“When we think of value-based care, we’re looking at ways that you can get the most out of the value that the behavioral health community can bring by installing, or connecting I should say, the primary health community or physical health community with the behavioral health providers… Where we can have a value-based arrangement that ties those two together and almost incentivizing co-location opportunities or joint initiatives, that’s really what we are trying to take advantage of.”


5.  Alliance report on waste in health care

The Washington Health Alliance released the results of an analysis on health care waste for the commercially-insured and Medicaid-insured populations in Washington. The new report includes data from 2014-2017, and evaluates wasteful spending of 44 individual medical groups.

The report notes that there was a 10% decrease in waste for the commercially-insured and a 24% decrease for the Medicaid-insured during the evaluated years. However, of the 9.5 million services examined, 51% were still found to be either “likely wasteful” or “wasteful.” The report also finds significant variation between the best and worst performing medical groups. Details, trends, and takeaways from the report are available here.