5 Things We’re Watching – Washington, January 2013

We’re still in recovery from last week’s almost 600-person conference, to be honest.  But we can’t help but be glued to the latest in health care.

Gubernatorial appointments, the new legislature, and subtle shifts in the marketplace ahead of a transformational year – it’s what we’ve got our eyes on this month.

1. Kevin Quigley: A “disruptive force” in health care

Gov. Elect Inslee’s first key health care appointment came with the announcement that Kevin Quigley will be the next DSHS administrator.

Quigley, a former chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, and recently president of a shipyard, looks to be the personification of Gov. Inslee’s pledge to be a “disruptive force” in state gov’t.  This appointment sends a loud message from the governor:  this won’t be a status quo administration.

2. Randy Becker: A practical Republican chair

Sen. Randy Becker takes over as chair of the Senate Health Care Committee this week amidst some gnashing of teeth by Democrats.

Politics of the Senate aside, Sen. Becker has spent as much time actually working in health care as almost anyone in the Legislature.  She’s a pragmatist and says she’ll bring an “open mind” to policy.  First up on her agenda: the Exchange.


3. Congress: Even we agree on this

About 10% of the rural health clinics in Washington State have closed in the last year as a result of uniquely burdensome administrative requirements by the state.

Last week, every one of the twelve Congressional delegation members from Washington signed a letter to the Governor expressing concern.  When an increasingly polarized Congress can agree on anything – but health policy in particular – it’s well worth noting.

4. OIC: Kept up at night over approving Exchange plans

Unlike the HCA’s Medicaid RFP process, the OIC will require any plan interested in participating on the Exchange in 2014 to have a complete contracted network in place upon application.  That means the OIC will need to approve networks for each product, from each plan, from each carrier.

Beth Berendt of the OIC told the Exchange Board that the prospect of getting them all approved on time “keeps me up at night”, given the tight turnaround timeline.

This week, Oregon announced 16 different carriers have applied there. Letters of intent for carriers to operate in Washington are due next week. 

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5. Inslee: Look at direct contracting and the RHA model

At our event last week, Gov. Elect Inslee highlighted two policy options he wanted to see the legislature take up:  1) creating new contracting models for the state to directly engage providers for care delivery and 2) the regional health alliance model where communities who want a global capitated payment for Medicaid can get one.

Both models come straight from Inslee’s campaign platform.  Keep an eye out to see how these two initiatives get developed, and how well they are supported in the legislative process.