5 Things Oregon: Wave in Medicaid, Public health reboot, Racism in health care

I’m jumping in for DJ in this edition ahead of our hosting the 2020 Oregon State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference next week! While this is our first virtual conference we’ve held in Oregon, it’s actually our 9th year hosting State of Reform in the state.

Thanks to your support, State of Reform continues to foster this non-partisan “safe table” around which different silos from the Oregon health care community can gather. We’re very honored that you allow us to play this role, so thank you.

This month, we feature five things we’re looking forward to at our upcoming conference. We hope we’ll have you with us!

Emily Boerger
Senior Reporter


1. Racism and its toxic impacts on health

From the boardroom to the exam room, from the finance department to the community health worker, race and racism are present in health care in meaningful ways that aren’t always fully understood. Next week, our panel, “Racism and its Toxic Impacts on Health,” will discuss what racism looks like in Oregon health care, and how race continues to be a factor in the experience communities of color have when they engage the institutions meant to keep them well.

On this panel, we’ll hear from Sen. James Manning, Member of the Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care, Dr. Mandrill Taylor, Physician in Charge, Mental Health at Kaiser Permanente, and Linda Roman, Health Policy Advisor in the Office of Gov. Kate Brown.

2. Preparing for the wave in Medicaid

With the economic downturn broadening across America, and the pandemic providing an asymmetric impact on the Oregon economy, what will that mean for the safety net in the state? As Medicaid enrollment is expected to climb, making sure that beneficiaries can access the care they’ll need during this crisis will take a thoughtful approach. At the conference on October 22, our “Preparing for the wave in Medicaid” panel will discuss these questions and take yours.

This conversation will feature Nora Leibowitz, Principal at Health Management Associates, Carlos Olivares, CEO of Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, and Dr. Russell Massine, Chief Physician Executive at Summit Medical Group Oregon.


3. Is it Time for a Reboot of Public Health?

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of a strong, modern, and adequately funded public health system in Oregon. So, what fundamental reforms should policy makers and advocates be considering in order to modernize a system that needs it? Our panel, “Is it Time for a Reboot of Public Health?” will discuss what reform of our public health system could look like and what we might need to better prepare for the next pandemic.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Health Officer at the Oregon Health Authority, and Philip Mason-Joyner, Public Health Director at Clackamas County, will offer their insights. Also joining the panel will be Tameka Brazile, Principal Investigator at Multnomah County Health Department, and Charlene McGee, Program Manager also with the Multnomah County Health Department.

4. The pandemic’s impact on the economy

It is clear that the structure of the economy – and the meaning of work – is shifting during this economic moment. But what will that mean for Oregon, for the nature of work, and for the state of the economy? Our panelists during the “Lasting change: The pandemic’s impact on the economy” session will explore the topic and bring their best thinking to the questions that lie ahead.

Joining us for this conversation is Senate President Peter CourtneyBecky Hultberg, CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, and Matthew Sinnott, Senior Director of Government Affairs & Contract Management at Willamette Dental Group.


5. Keynote: Kitzhaber & Blumenauer

On the other side of a general election, it will be time to renew the effort to reform America’s health care system – and a conversation is brewing about how best to bring the lessons from Oregon’s health transformation project to the national conversation. Our Afternoon Keynote at the Oregon State of Reform Conference will take up this topic and discuss what the intersection of Oregon’s experience and the political opportunity of 2021 looks like.

The conversation will feature two national figures on health reform: former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Congressman Earl Blumenauer. For a preview of some of the issues that will be discussed, take a look at Kitzhaber’s recent essay for the American Federation of Teachers which offers his take on the how the United States can utilize this moment to move toward a health care system focused on value and health.