5 Things We’re Watching – Washington, December 2012

With our 2013 State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up next month, this issue of 5 Things tends to look something like our agenda for January.

With almost 350 registrants (so far) and over 90 speakers lined up, the event has quickly become what many have called “the most important health care event of the year!

1. 90 speakers – That’s a lot of wisdom in one place

In three weeks, we’ll have our largest, most ambitious State of Reform agenda yet, in what will be our third annual event in Washington.

Our mission is to bridge the gap between the health care silos that divide us – from policy to the marketplace.  Without any bias to content or policy, we do that by empowering leaders to share their thinking, their strategies and their approach to improving our system.

We’d love to have you with us.

2. Musical (committee) chairs

Following the November elections, the state Senate will have 26 Democrats, and 23 Republicans – which given the flip of 2 Democratic Senators, means it appears Republicans will have a working majority.

Sen. Randi Becker, (R-Eatonville) who comes steeped with a professional background in clinic administration, appears to be set to become chair of the Senate health care committee in January.

Democrats have countered with a proposal for a coalition model with co-chairs.  Stay tuned.

3. What does Brian Bonlender think?

You may not know Brian.  Or that he comes from a family of public servants in Yakima.  Or that he’s worked with Jay Inslee for 20 years.

But, now he is the Transition Director for Gov.-Elect Inslee.  And, since you might have an interest in new appointments in the Inslee administration or the thinking that might go into health policy in the 2013 session, he’s someone you should get to know.

So, we interviewed him for you.

4. Recruiting for key Inslee health care spots underway

While many in Olympia are anxious to learn who will lead health policy in the new administration, the Transition team is taking a careful approach to filling spots.

This week, the announcement for the DSHS Secretary was released, which appears to include a nationwide search.  Want to join Team Inslee?  They’re looking for a few (thousand) folks.

5. “…Like an abused child.”

Figuring out funding for the Exchange is probably “must have” legislation for this session.  However, Gregoire’s budget, released yesterday, includes zero dollars for the Exchange, it appears.

That said, the rest of the topline health care budget appears to be OK.  As one health care insider put it, “After years of being treated like an abused child, simply the lack of major trauma in this budget feels like a win.”

Whether it’s a realistic budget is probably another thing.