5 Things Hawaii: Medicaid award protest, Bills we’re watching, What you missed

It is always such an honor to have the State of Reform ohana with us at our annual event. With about 350 folks with us, including some of the most senior health policy executives and health policy leaders from across the state, State of Reform brought together a diverse and thoughtful crowd.

So, mahalo for your continued support.  We appreciate it very much!



With help from Emily Boerger



1. Med-QUEST announcement and protest

The recent Med-QUEST award was sure to generate concern. Paring five plans to two on the neighboring islands was never going to be easy, and a protest was likely to come from any of the plans that lost. Now, at least one protest has since been filed, and Med-QUEST has announced “all QI Contract Award implementation activities are suspended until further notice.”

Implementation was originally set for July. With the protest and suspension, it’s possible that timeline will shift. If irregularities are found, or if a court case ensues, it could be a while before integration takes shape. That said, none of these plans are new to the market, which suggests a smooth and rapid transition to the new model.


2. Check out the keynotes from State of Reform

Last month we hosted the 2020 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference, bringing together over 350 attendees from across Hawaii’s health care ecosystem. You can check out this highlight video from the conference to get a feel for the sights and sounds of the event.

We also captured our keynote discussions and presentations for your review. Robin Gelburd, President of FAIR Health, kicked off the day with our Morning Keynote. Our lunch keynote featured “One on One Conversations” with Queen’s CEO Dr. Jill Hoggard Green, AlohaCare CEO Laura Esslinger, and Dr. Mark Mugiishi, President & Chief Health Officer at HMSA. Lt. Gov. Josh Green rounded out the day with a presentation on his vision for a Hawaii Health Corps.


3. DOH delivers behavioral health report

The Department of Health issued a report highlighting areas where Hawaii can improve health care for those suffering from homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse disorders. Recommendations included finding facilities that can accommodate the growing number of patients with behavioral health needs, and diverting patients from jail into recovery services.

Medical professionals note a lack of resources, services, and professionals in the state to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of these populations, the report stipulates. Telehealth tools, among other resources, could help to fill this gap.

4. Health bills we’re watching

From vaping and mental health, to prescription drug cost transparency, we’ve compiled a list of some of the health-related bills worth tracking this year. One bill would require the DOE to develop a 3-year pilot program for the implementation of a trauma-informed education program in the Castle, Kailua, and Kalaheo complexes.

Another bill would require the DOH to establish short-term, residential stabilization beds throughout the state by repurposing unused state facilities. And, a series of bills aimed at prescription drug price transparency will be heard in committee on Friday.

5. Capretta: “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative

Some of the biggest health news in recent weeks came from CMS’s release of the “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative — or what many are calling a “block grant” model. Our State of Reform columnist Jim Capretta of the AEI breaks down the new proposal. He takes a complex proposal and explains the impact and its component parts.

Some critics suggest that the new waivers will lead to a downsizing in Medicaid, but Capretta says this will only happen if states that have already expanded Medicaid choose to submit waivers. “It seems more likely that the governors who will be most attracted to the new option will be those who serve in states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs,” writes Capretta. “If this waiver program entices several non-expansion states to join the ranks of those that have expanded their programs, then it is possible the administration’s proposal will increase enrollment in Medicaid rather than reduce it.”