5 Things We’re Watching – Oregon, August 2013

There are a lot of tea leaves to be watching this month in health care and health policy.  2014 is close but not here yet.  Meanwhile, there are a number of things happening that could have huge – though still unclear – consequences.

So, with our annual conference now under two months away, we are trying to tease out some of the nuances in health policy and the future of the healthcare marketplace.  It’s what were watching this month.

DJ Wilson - Host, State of Reform 

1. Cover Oregon faces a $16.2m shortfall

The exchange has done a good job of managing expectations in the run up to Oct 1.  So, the news that there would be some technology hiccups didn’t come as much of a surprise.  No one we’ve talked to – breathless pundits aside – thinks this is too big of a deal in the long run.

On the other hand, the news that Cover Oregon faced a $16.2m shortfall due to accounting errors at the OHA was turning heads and drawing criticism.  It’s a pretty major misstep.

But, it also shows how hard this multi-agency work is.  And, why the goodwill Cover Oregon CEO Rocky King has developed with the state and the healthcare industry is so important.  As one insider told us, “This is a bump in the road, but no one’s getting off the bus.”

2. Buck Williams, Jim Paxson, and Kiki Vandeweghe

If you recognize these names, then you likely understand the how embedded the Trail Blazers are in Oregon’s culture and identity.  Which is why it was both so audacious and somehow fitting when Moda Health bought the naming rights to the Rose Garden – now Moda Center.

The brand alignment – estimated at $4.2m per year – positions Moda very well for deeper success in the Oregon market, while sending a message to competitor plans even in markets outside Oregon that Moda is going to be aggressive about growth in the years to come.


3. Aligning CCOs with the rest of the insurance marketplace

The June 3rd letter from Gov. Kitzhaber to the Oregon Health Policy Board has set in place an ambitious task:  aligning the CCO model with public employee contracts and to the overall commercial insurance marketplace.

The “Coordinated Care Model Alignment Workgroup” is charged with bringing forward legislative recommendations to bring about the alignment, as well as increase the oversight by the state of plans and CCOs.  But, with little more than three months left in the charter, competing priorities, and limited staff resources, it will be a challenge just to get recommendations put together – much less consensus on them.

4. We’re lining up more than 65 speakers for Oct 9th!

Our Convening Panel asked us to make integration a central focus of this year’s conference.  So, the Topical Agenda we’ve developed does that – in addition to content related to implementation and what the future of health policy looks like.

We’re thrilled to have Bruce Goldberg, Rocky King and Susan Johnson offering keynotes to talk through the future of health care in Oregon.  You’ve got some time left to register – and, if you register by Friday, you can use the code “5Things” to get 20% off!


Regence Oregon

5.  2014?  Depends on who you talk to

For most of the health care world, say the year “2014” and folks think health reform’s central pillars:  exchanges going live and Medicaid expanding.

Say “2014” to political insiders and they talk about whether Gov. Kitzhaber will run for re-election.  What his opposition will look like is still unclear, though Rep. Dennis Richardson is actively making the rounds and brings some – though limited – infrastructure with him to support a run.

Kitzhaber “announced” his re-election in 1998 with a slip of the tongue during his January State of the State address.  It may be until January 2014 that we know whether he’ll run again.  It’s a ways away – but folks are starting to wonder aloud about what’s coming.