5 Things Hawaii: Med-QUEST RFI, Heroes and HEALS Acts, Heather Miyasato

It has taken Hawaii about five months to accumulate 2,763 confirmed cases of COVID-19. At the current rate of spread, Hawaii will accumulate another 2,763 cases in just 15 days. The seven-day average of new cases has more than doubled in the last week.

It’s a signal that none of us will be out of the woods on this until all of us are out of the woods on this. Based on our reporting, “getting out of the woods” will require that a vaccine is developed, deployed at scale, and accepted by between 60-80% of the population. And that full cycle, I’m told by pharma execs and public health professionals, is probably still over a year away.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. New Med-QUEST RFI released

DHS recently released a new RFI, seeking information to prepare for the upcoming re-procurement of QUEST Integration health plans. The RFI comes after DHS announced it was rescinding the Medicaid managed care contract awards previously announced in January due to the “evolving needs of the community” during the COVID-19 crisis.

The RFI asks stakeholders what the optimal number of QI health plans to offer in Hawaii is, and asks if the number of plans should vary on a regional versus statewide basis. The RFI is also seeking information on the QI program’s response to COVID-19, leveraging care and service coordination, behavioral health, and alternative payment models. Response are due by 2:00pm on August 14, 2020.


2. Health Provisions in HEALS and Heroes

Senate Republicans recently released the HEALS Act – their proposal for the next round of federal COVID-19 relief legislation. House and Senate leaders, along with representatives from the Trump administration, must now reconcile it with the Heroes Act, which House Democrats passed in May.

In his latest column, our State of Reform columnist based in Washington DC, Jim Capretta, breaks down the differences in the health-related provisions of the two proposals. He highlights differences in testing and contact tracing funding, health care provider financial support, vaccine development and distribution, and support for job-based health insurance. “The U.S. squandered the beneficial effects of the March-April lockdown on a flawed reopening in May and June,” he writes. “The bill Congress is now negotiating is critical to setting the country on a better course to weather the pandemic over the coming months.”

3. A surge in cases

Hawaii, which has been able to keep COVID-19 mostly at bay, is now facing a spike in cases. Data from the New York Times shows the state is now experiencing an average of 128 new cases per day – a 532% increase from the average two weeks ago. Hawaii’s reproductive rate, according to Rt.live, is now the highest in the country (by a considerable amount) at 1.36. And, the state’s 7-day percent positive rate is now 4.9% after hovering at about 1-2% for several months.

On Monday, Gov. Ige held a news briefing where he told residents to take personal responsibility to minimize community spread, but maintained that the state has enough contact tracers to handle the current situation. Also on Monday, members of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness called on health officials to reveal detailed information about how COVID-19 is spreading in order for the public to better understand which activities are safe, and which are risky.

4. Video: Heather Miyasato, HMSA

Heather Miyasato is the Director of Health Finance at Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA). She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the importance of sharing best practices.

“We’re excited to be working with our provider partners in our primary care model…We’re trying to create forums for our providers to actually interact with each other and to teach each other some of the best practices that they’re seeing – to teach each other firsthand on what works and what doesn’t work.”


5. Upcoming virtual conversations

I wanted to flag for you some of our upcoming virtual events outside of Hawaii that you might be interested in joining. First, on August 10th at 9am HST, I will get a chance to host a virtual conversation with Dr. Gary Kaplan, Chairman and CEO of the Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, and Ketul J. Patel, CEO of CHI Franciscan. These two mainland CEOs are joining me to talk through their new merger and what it means for the future of hospital care. In case you missed it, we’ve posted video and highlights from our Monday conversation titled, “5 Slides: Creating a culture of anti-racism in health care.”

Also, in two weeks, we’ll host our first Virtual Conference, this one based in Northern California. We’ve put a lot of time into building out a new platform that will meet this moment in terms of both content and conversations. So, if you’d like to step into our Northern California conference to kick around and check it out, I’d be happy to let you join. If you’ve attended any of our conferences in the past, we can get you a code to let you into this one at no charge so you can see what our January event for Hawaii will look like.