5 Things Washington: Supplemental budgets, Presidential Primary, Lindsay Harris

I’m hitting send from 30,000 feet, flying to a conference in Florida. It’s a wonder of our modern economy that one can work remotely from the air while writing to a list of over 25,000 readers. That isn’t stopping the folks next to me about complaining about the seating, or querying me for signs of coronavirus (“It’s literally just a sniffle, but I can give you sanitizer if that would help.”). Such is the state of our times, and that doesn’t even touch on our political climate.

As always, thanks for reading our stuff.



With help from Emily Boerger



1. Health care in the supplemental budget

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses presented their supplemental operating budget proposals this week, prioritizing homelessness, housing affordability, and health care. Though similar in scope, we break down the health-related funding in both budget proposals here.

Notable funding allocations in the House budget include $235m for housing and homelessness, $14.5m for foundational public health services, and $16.8m to increase rates for nursing homes. The Senate’s budget includes $100m to address the climate crisis, $100m to help get the UW Behavioral Health Hospital off the ground, and $115m to address homelessness. The Senate has $5m for a call center on the coronavirus, something that feels woefully small given CDC’s statement yesterday. But it’s a start.

2. Primary candidates come to Washington

With a presidential primary less than two weeks away, Democratic candidates are bringing their campaigns to Washington State. State of Reform reporter Michael Goldberg was on site at three recent events featuring Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In this piece, Goldberg provides a run through of what candidates Sanders and Buttigieg had to say about health care in their recent campaign stops in Western Washington.

Sanders’s lead has rattled some of of the state’s “Consensus Democrats.” Perhaps for good reason, as he isn’t, after all, a member of the Democratic Party. His support for some policies of the former Soviet Union overlook that the Soviet regime was perhaps the most authoritarian and most murderous government in human history. But, as Pramila Jayapal stars in Bernie’s first Washington TV ad, out today, it’s clear there is strong alignment between Bernie’s and Seattle’s politics.


3.  Key executive searches in philanthropy

The Empire Health Foundation has been one of the most impactful organizations in health reform in Washington State over the last number of years. Its outsized influence leaves big shoes to fill as it looks to hire the next CEO. In speaking with the recruiter, I suggested Lisa Brown, Alison Poulsen, Sarah Lyman, and a handful of others as the kind of leaders that would be good potential fits. It’s a consequential hire for both the Spokane region and the state.

On the west side, Verdant Health Commission is a public hospital district-turned philanthropic actor in Snohomish County. They are looking for a superintendent that can learn from and emulate organizations like Empire for impact. My wife and partner, Karianna, serves as an elected official on their board. Given her role, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut on potential hires…

4.  Video: Lindsay Harris, HMA

Lindsay Harris is the Chief Growth Officer at Healthcare Management Administrators, where she leads sales, marketing, client services, and product management for the organization. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss consolidation in the provider market.

“We’re seeing a lot of for-profit entities purchasing multi-specialty clinics, seeing affiliations of hospitals. The data from that don’t show necessarily that that’s great for employers and for patients. We see that it tends to increase price and there’s new research showing it may have a negative impact on quality.”


5.  Health care troubles in Dept. of Corrections

A recent piece from the Seattle Times details breakdowns in health care within the Washington Department of Corrections – including the deaths of two inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex who died after the DOC failed to provide needed cancer treatment. The article notes that the Washington Medical Commission is currently in the process of investigating 7 deaths at the correctional facility, after the prison’s top doctor was fired in April for failing to provide adequate care.

But changes are underway to attempt to improve health for inmates. Both the Senate and the House supplemental operating budgets include additional funding to increase health care staff within the DOC, and the House’s version includes additional funding to pilot a patient advocacy program at two correctional centers. The DOC also recently released an RFI to analyze the costs and benefits of purchasing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.