5 Things Oregon: Topical Agenda, State Health Improvement Plan, Medicaid enrollments

Six months ago, it wasn’t clear that State of Reform would still be here today. All of our content is funded through revenue from live events. And, COVID put a damper on all of those. We moved to the virtual space, trying to build a platform that could foster community, collaboration and conversation. But, it wasn’t clear that folks would support us as we did that.

So, we held our breath and pressed forward.

Since then, the Heatherington Foundation has continued to sponsor us. CareOregon has increased its sponsorship, supporting our conversations throughout the year, as well as our annual conference. Kaiser Permanente and HMA have both reaffirmed their support, too.

So, thank you to our sponsors, to you our readers, and to the folks that make State of Reform a unique social utility for the health care space!





With help from Emily Boerger

1. OHA’s $26.3 billion budget request

The Oregon Health Authority last week submitted its 3,274-page Agency Request Budget for the 2021-2023 biennium. OHA is requesting $26.3 billion in total funds for the biennium. Of that total amount, $3.8 billion would come from state General Funds. By comparison, the 2019-2021 legislatively approved budget totaled $23.48 billion including $2.7 billion GF.

The budget requests include $68.9 million GF to support public health modernization, $30 million to increase Oregon State Hospital capacity, and a proposal to increase the tax on beer, wine, and cider to generate an estimated $293 million in new revenue. The budget documents also include options for a 10% budget cut.


2. ICYMI: Topical Agenda now available!

In case you missed it, last week we released the Topical Agenda for the 2020 Oregon State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference coming up on October 22! It’s a set of topics pulled together from scores of hours of conversations with our Convening Panel, key stakeholders, and sponsors. We’ll be exploring politics and policy in health care, discussing the future of Medicaid, and diving deep into COVID’s impact on the economy, tele-health, and health equity.

You can view the Topical Agenda here for a sense of the conversations we have teed up, and if you have suggestions for speakers let us know! If you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us!

3. State Health Improvement Plan released

OHA launched its new health equity-focused 2020-2024 State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) last week. The plan, Healthier Together Oregon, identifies 62 strategies and supporting activities for improving health in Oregon, focusing primarily on the social factors that influence health.

The plan highlights five priority areas: institutional bias; adversity, trauma, and toxic stress; behavioral health; economic drivers of health such as housing and food security; and access to equitable preventive health care. The priorities were chosen in March 2019 but have since taken on new meaning in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, say officials in OHA’s Public Health Division. Details on all 62 strategies are available under the “explore the plan” tab here, and our overview of the plan is available here.

4. Update on Medicaid enrollments

Medicaid enrollment has increased by over 100,000 members since Gov. Kate Brown’s March 8 COVID-19 emergency declaration. This bump in enrollees represents a 9.88 percent increase in Oregon Health Plan membership – bringing the total number of members to 1.18 million.

About 25% of the additional members are due to new Medicaid enrollments. Most of the increase in OHP membership, however, is due to policy changes aimed at maintaining Medicaid coverage during the pandemic. In an update at the end of August, OHA said the 6.2 percent increase in federal Medicaid matching funds provided through the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is projected to cover Oregon’s Medicaid enrollment increases through the end of the year.


5. Putting summertime election polling in context

FiveThirtyEight’s latest average national polling shows Vice President Joe Biden with about a 7.5 point advantage over President Trump. But if we look back at presidential elections over the past 40 years, a lot can change between August polling and election day results. Remember when that July 1988 Gallup poll showed Michael Dukakis with a 17 point lead over George H.W. Bush? Jimmy Carter was ahead in August in 1980. Hilary Clinton was ahead in August in 2016.

The point is that things will move in this election quite a bit in the next 54 days between now and the election. One pollster recently estimated that about 10 percent of voters are likely undecided. Moreover, some Trump-friendly demographics are difficult to reach and there aren’t enough large sample, quality polls that succeed in including these voters. This creates quite a bit of volatility in the models as things as we look ahead to the next nine weeks.