What They’re Watching: Jeanene Smith, MD

Jeanene Smith, MD, is a Principal at Health Management Associates. Previously, Smith served as chief medical officer for the Oregon Health Authority. Taking lessons learned in Oregon, Smith joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss health care reform during difficult times. These remarks were recorded before the COVID outbreak during our October conference in Anchorage.



“There’s certainly a lot going on as we continue to do health care reform. I’m from Oregon and I spent a lot of time in our health reform days of our delivery system reforms being critical at a very tough budget time. And as I’ve been reflecting here about Alaska’s challenges, it’s kind of a perfect, sort of crisis time to really rethink how to do something more innovative and really reform the health care delivery system. Rather than having to cut people, or cut benefits, or cut rates, but trying to come up with a way to kind of cap health care cost trends. We’ve been very successful with that. The last six years in Oregon has led to some pretty incredible innovation around the various regions, both rural as well as in the urban setting, and I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned for applying that in an area such as what’s going on in Alaska or other parts of the country.

It’s really important to work in a bipartisan way. Some of the biggest advocates for what we did there were fairly conservative as well as more liberal voices and we were able to work across the aisle to get this to happen on a legislative level. And I think across communities it’s been a real exchange between the community, community-based organizations, the social services, partnering with the delivery system who are providing the more traditional medical care. So, by having cross-collaboration, sort of that medical neighborhood working with community-based care coordination has been really successful and lots of good outcomes have emerged.”