5 Things Texas: Primaries, Samoa, Topical Agenda

Tomorrow, our “Early Bird” rates expire for our upcoming 2020 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference on Feb. 4th. Prices will go up over the weekend. So, if you already know you want to join about 400 of your closest friends in Texas health care in Austin, we’d love to have you save a few bucks and get signed up!

To help you make a decision, today we release our Topical Agenda for the upcoming event. You’ll see that and a few other items we’re watching for you in Texas health care this month.





1. Fewer primaries, more retirements among Republican legislators

The filing deadline for the primary elections are next week, on Dec. 9th. So far, only 19 legislative races will have Republican primaries, of which a modest 8 incumbents will face an intra-party challenge. By comparison, the 2018 election saw 48 intra-party fights among Republicans, a large number in which 32 races had an incumbent.

Another incumbent Republican announced this week he would retire rather than face a primary, joining at least seven Republicans who previously announced they’re leaving the legislature. In 2018, only three Republican incumbents retired after completing a full term. Two more resigned mid-term for a total of five.


2.  The Topical Agenda for our Austin event is out!

Our Convening Panel recently met ahead of our 2020 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up in Austin on February 4th. Together, we talked through topics, sessions, issues, and possible speakers ahead of this next year’s event.

Today, we release the product of that collaboration, the Topical Agenda for the February conference. I think it’s a strong set of conversations, the likes of which you’ll only find collected together at State of Reform. So, take a look, and get you and your executive team registered to be with us in Austin! Our “Early Bird” rates end tomorrow…

3. You should track Samoa. Seriously.

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, 62 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%.

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.

Anti-vaxxers have mobilized to explain measles is a result in Vitamin C and A deficiency. Some are now being detained for spreading misinformation that has led to deaths.

4. Video: Debra Patt, MD

Debra Patt, MD, is a Vice President for Texas Oncology, where she directs public policy, academic affairs, and strategic initiatives for the practice. Patt is a practicing oncologist and an active leader in breast cancer research. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss caring for patients in rural areas.

“As cancer care providers, we have cancer care in many remote areas and in big cities, but some unique services like neuro-oncology or some of our surgical oncologists and proton therapy are only in hubs. And so we rely on technology and integration of services to deliver cutting-edge treatment even to rural areas.”


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.