5 Things Hawaii: Samoa, Robin Gelburd, Behavioral health report

We are now six weeks out from our 2020 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference! It’s right around the corner… So, with Thanksgiving behind us, and Christmas and Hanukkah not yet fully upon us, now is a good time to get registered to be with us on January 14th at the Hilton Hawaiian Village!



With help from Emily Boerger, Karianna Wilson,

and Michael Goldberg


1. New report – here’s what we expect

The Involuntary Hospitalization Task Force is set to release its report in the next week, called for as a result of HB 1013 and SB 1494. It has spent the last few months reviewing the behavioral health system in Hawaii to make sure that the crisis system is managing MH-1 calls appropriately. Right now, one of the concerns is that hospitals are getting flooded perhaps somewhat unnecessarily.

Karianna Wilson talked with Eddie Mersereau, the head of the Behavioral Health Services Administration. He told her that 60% of current crisis transports are not currently admitted, but that it’s still a significant impact on limited ER beds in the state. He said the Task Force has been reviewing crisis models in Arizona, Georgia, and Florida for lessons learned to be incorporated in the state.

2. Measles outbreak in Samoa

In an island nation of about 200,000 residents, 2% of the population has been confirmed to have the measles in an epidemic that has spread in just the last three weeks. So far, 63 have died, 54 of which were babies and kids under 4. A mass vaccination campaign has begun, moving the vaccinated population from an estimated 30% to 55%.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green reached out to the Hawaii medical community to assemble a team of volunteers. Eager to join the effort, Queen’s Health Systems coordinated a team of 76 volunteers to send to the island less than 24 hours later. The team will continue vaccinations today hoping to prevent any more fatalities.

If your response is “2% isn’t much,” it’s this much: the government has shut down. Basic food and sanitation supplies are withering as businesses are forced to close and residents are told to stay home. Foreign nationals are working to send coffins for babies because there are not enough to meet the need.


3. Keynote: Health care pricing data in Hawaii

Claims data is hard to get a hold of in the aggregate across plans and carriers. But, it’s that data that can show the true cost of care in a system. So, that’s why we’re so excited to have Robin Gelburd, CEO of FAIR Health, coming out from New York to keynote State of Reform on January 14th. FAIR Health is the nation’s largest repository of private claims data with over 29 billion claims from the commercial and Medicare markets.

If you are interested in cost, pricing, or data, Robin’s presentation will deliver a presentation that is specific – by geozip code – to the experience in Hawaii. I think this will be a powerful presentation that you’re not likely to find outside of State of Reform.

4. Video: Angie Lin, Centene

Angie Lin is the Senior Director of Business Development at Centene. Centene prides itself on its local approach to providing accessible, high-quality services to millions of managed care members. Lin joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss understanding your community.

“We have a saying where if you have been in one state you’ve only been in one state. And so, we really take a local-based approach. There’s certainly a lot of best practices that you can pick up from different areas, but we understand that for anything to really work it’s [important] to understand what the local community priorities are.”


5. Capretta: The rise of the public option

Jim Capretta at the American Enterprise Institute is one of the smartest, most well regarded health policy observers in the country. He pens a monthly column for us at State of Reform where he offers our community some of his insights.

This month, Capretta argues that Democrats are not likely to actually pursue a “Medicare for All” option, should the nominee win the White House. “The party’s next big idea in health care will be a public option, not single-payer,” says Capretta. His column is always worth a read, but I think that’s particularly the case this month with the Iowa caucuses two months away on Feb. 3rd.