5 Things Washington: Election results, Topical Agenda, Agency review teams

Gov. Inslee is to provide an “address” this evening at 5:30. He will not take questions. This comes following an “urgent” media background meeting earlier this week with state officials. At 202 cases per 100k over 14 days, the current rate of COVID spread is almost 3x what it was back in March when the economy shut down.

Statisticians and public health experts are getting better about understanding the spread. This new tool out of Georgia compensates for ascertainment bias, based on seroprevalence data. It finds states that have an average rate of testing likely have an infection rate 10x greater than publicly reported data. At the lowest end in high test states, the number is 5x – a number reinforced by state officials this week.

Put it all together, it means 1 or 2 out of every 100 Washingtonians has COVID today, right now. In SD, it’s 1 or 2 out of every 30 residents with COVID right now.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. A mostly status quo election in the legislature

Like the Washington State Primary, and like the national results, the results from last Tuesday’s election didn’t quite fit the narrative of what many folks thought 2020 was going to be. Maybe the polling was uniformly wrong. Maybe there was a late surge by Republicans. It’s not clear.

While legislative Republicans overperformed expectations this year, for now, they remain in the minority. The Senate looks to remain a 27-22 Democratic majority, with flips in the 19th (Takko) and the 28th (O’Ban). In the 5th, it would appear incumbent Sen. Mark Mullet has fought off a challenge, holding a 82 vote lead, or .09%, over challenger Ingrid Anderson. In the House, the Democratic majority looks to remain at 57-41. They lost Brian Blake in the 19th and gained Alicia Rule in the 42nd. The 11th saw longtime legislator Zach Hudgins give way to challenger David Hackney.

2. Our Topical Agenda is now available!

We are excited to announce the release of our Topical Agenda for the 2021 Washington State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference on January 6th-7th! Our agenda is built with input from stakeholders across all silos in the Washington health care system. And this year, based on those conversations, we’ve decided the virtual convening will take place over the course of two days.

During the conference we’ll explore politics and policy in health care, discuss the future of Medicaid, and dive deep into COVID’s impact on the economy, tele-health, and our approach to public health. You can view the Topical Agenda for Day 1 here and Day 2 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. A new framework for delivering crisis services

With several overlapping crises catalyzing demand, a new framework for delivering crisis services may be on the horizon. Reporter Emily Boerger spoke with Wendy Martinez Farmer, AVP Crisis Solutions at Beacon Health Options, to discuss some of the ways Beacon is working to implement crisis systems in communities while avoiding unnecessary law enforcement and emergency services involvement. Beacon services as the BH-ASO for Medicaid in a number of regions in Washington State. The BH-ASO is, in essence, the crisis response safety net.

Beacon uses an array consisting of a mental health hotline, mobile crisis units, and community crisis collaboratives, among its tools. When individuals call Beacon’s crisis line, approximately 78% of situations are resolved without the need to dispatch a mobile crisis unit, says Farmer. In Washington State, when a mobile team is dispatched, up to 90% of cases are diverted from needing higher levels of care such as inpatient care or an emergency department visit.


4. A conversation with Kaiser Permanente

Coming up on November 30th, we’re very much looking forward to hosting our latest Leadership Series titled, “A Conversation with Kaiser Permanente Executive Leadership.” The conversation will feature Susan Mullaney, President, Kaiser Permanente Washington, and Paul Minardi, MD, President and CEO, Washington Permanente Medical Group.

This virtual conversation will offer attendees the opportunity to hear an in-depth discussion with these two health care executives as they share their thoughts on how confronting infectious diseases for years prepared Kaiser for this pandemic and the strides Kaiser is making in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The conversation include your questions and comments and will run from 1-2pm on the 30th and is free to join. But you have to register to be a part of it.


5. Biden’s transition team for health care

The Biden-Harris transition team took a step forward in preparing for its transition to the White House by announcing the members of its agency review teams on Tuesday. While the teams include over 500 individuals who will lead the transitions for each federal agency, it appears only two of those 500 are from Washington State.

The Department of Health and Human Services team includes 30 individuals with a broad range of expertise in the health care sector. The team features several Obama administration alums including Manatt Health Managing Director Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and Robert Gordon, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, who will both serve as team leads. Also on the list is HMA’s Jon BlumMeena Seshamani, MD, with MedStar Health, and Eliot Fishman with Families USA.