Detailed Agenda

Our 2021 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference Detailed Agenda is a list of over 60 speakers and experts from across the spectrum of care.

The agenda and speaker list are driven by input from our Convening Panel of health care leaders from across the nation and we’re looking forward to a great event on April 14th. If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.

The heading colors correspond to track colors on our Topical Agenda to help you organize your day.

For now, let us know if you have any questions about the conference. We look forward to seeing you!

Please note, all of the times are in MDT!


8:00 - 8:15

Welcome and Introduction

To start the morning, State of Reform Host DJ Wilson will welcome you to the event, offering both a logistical tour of the platform as well as broader contextual comments about the state of health reform in Utah today. This is a good session to orient you to the conversations waiting for you on the agenda, and the tools available to you on the platform. 

DJ Wilson: Host, State of Reform 

8:15 - 8:50

Morning Keynote

Our conference kicks off with a conversation with Utah's Executive Director of the Dept. of Human Services, and Gov. Cox's lead on Health Security in his One Utah Roadmap. Tracy Gruber will update us on her work since assuming her position earlier this year, and the Cox administration's vision for health system improvement across Utah in the months ahead. Bring your questions to what will be a smart and well informed conversation.

Tracy Gruber: Executive Director, Utah Dept. of Human Services 

9:00 - 9:50

Policy Leadership: Republicans

This panel of some of Utah's most important and impactful Republican legislators will review the work of the legislative session. They will also look ahead to the interim period and the full scope of tasks ahead for Utah health policy.

Sen. Jacob Anderegg: Chair, Senate Social Services Appropriations Committee

Rep. James Dunnigan: Chair, House Political Subdivisions Committee

Rep. Stewart Barlow: Member, House Health and Human Services Committee 

9:00 - 9:50

Mental health, substance abuse and the pandemic

The pandemic is going to leave us all, both individually and collectively, with some lasting impacts to our mental health. Some have begun to struggle with addiction to make things worse. This session will discuss the impacts of a year of COVID on our mental health and look ahead to how the system -- and our society -- will respond. 

Rep. Mike Winder: Member, House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee

Travis Jackson: Vice President, Beacon 

Laura Grossman: Director, Account Management & Account Services, Beacon

Elizabeth Klc: Director, Utah Substance Use and Mental Health Advisory Council 

Jenifer Gorder: Manager, Ogden Regional Medical Center Behavioral Health Unit

9:00 - 9:50

Telehealth and the increasing challenge of the digital divide

One of the most significant changes to the health care delivery system during COVID has been the catalyzation of tele-health services. This session will talk through the lessons learned from tele-health utilization and puzzle through the implications, ranging across demographics, infrastructure, and clinical care.

Matt McCullough: Associate Director of Telehealth Operations, Utah Education and Telehealth Network 

Stephen Lisonbee: Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs, Office of Governor Spencer Cox

Eric Liston: Administrator, Intermountain Connect Services

9:00 - 9:50

Where value based care is working in Utah

The movement to value in health care sometimes feels like its 2 steps forward, with some number of steps back. It's a complicated challenge in normal times. During a pandemic, even more the case. So this group of thought leaders will review what is working in the move to value, and how obstacles might be overcome. 

Eric Hales: Vice President, Network Development, Regence BlueCross BlueShield 

Chad Bittner: Chief Medical Officer, OptumCare Utah

Catherine Field: Senior Vice President and Division Leader, Humana 

Nick Bassett: Vice President of Population Health Services, Castell

10:00 - 10:50

Policy leadership: Democrats

This panel of Democratic legislators will talk through the highs and lows of the legislative session, and offer their thoughts on the work ahead. Bring your questions to what is always an interactive and wide-ranging conversation.

Sen. Gene Davis: Manager, Minority Caucus

Sen. Luz Escamilla: Member, Senate Health and Human Services Committee 

Rep. Rosemary Lesser, MD: Member, House Health and Human Services Committee

10:00 - 10:50

The increasing role of social determinants on our health

We know the social determinants are primary drivers of one's health status. But, putting that awareness to use in a sustainable way that improves health is no easy task. This session of experts will talk through the new efforts to address SDOH and what is being learned through the work. 

Rep. Angela Romero: Representative, Utah State House of Representatives 

Alan Pruhs: Executive Director, Association for Utah Community Health 

Laura Summers: Senior Health Care Analyst, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute

Angela Choberka: Member Equity Program Consultant, Select Health 

10:00 - 10:50

Facing the challenge of racial inequity in health care

The variation in access and outcomes to health care services during the pandemic has created a moral imperative to do better. These leaders will talk through how we can do better as a society, do better as a sector, and do better as professionals to address the stark variation in performance based on race in US health care. 

José Rodriguez, MD: Assistant Vice President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Utah Health 

Mikelle Moore: Senior Vice President, Chief Community Health Officer, Intermountain Healthcare

Christine Espinel: Health Program Specialist, Utah Department of Health, Office of Health Disparities 

10:00 - 10:50

A data-driven review of Utah's COVID economy

At topline levels, Utah's economy has performed admirably well compared to other states in the country. But, under those topline levels, many sectors continue to struggle. This is particularly true in Utah's service industry. So, what does the data tell us about the performance of Utah's economy and its experience with COVID? This group of experts will talk us through it.

Kathryn Macdonald Poelman, MPP: Research Consultant, Utah Department of Human Services

Silvia Castro: Executive Director, Suazo Business Center

Phillip Dean: Public Finance Senior Research Fellow, Kem. C Gardner Policy Institute (Moderator)

11:00 -11:50

Capitol insiders discuss health policy

In what is always a popular session, these government relations professionals will discuss state health policy, look back on the 2021 session, and talk through what is on the agenda for the interim period ahead. Bring your questions, as well as your own insights, to a session that is particularly interactive and forward thinking. 

Travis Wood: Executive Director, Utah Health Plans

Chet Loftis: Managing Director, Public Employees' Health Plan

Holly Christensen: Partner and Lobbyist, Tetris Group, LLC

Frank Pignanelli: Partner, Foxley & Pignanelli

11:00 - 11:50

Update from the Dept. of Health

The Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health will run down the initiatives under way in his agency, and the directives provided to the department from the 2021 legislative session. He will be flanked by senior leaders from his team to be able to answer a range of your questions and address your novel ideas for reform.

Rich Saunders: Executive Director, Utah Department of Health

11:00 - 11:50

Integrating the community into the health care system

The more work we do as a health care sector to improve health, the more we realize the importance of connecting the service delivery system to the community that surrounds it. This breakout will talk through the lessons from those integration efforts, and the work that remains to be done. 

Melissa Freigang: Executive Director, Prosperity Center of Excellence

Elizabeth Craig: Medicaid Program Manager, Select Health

Elisabeth Nebeker: Manager, Cambia Grove

11:00 -11:50

Rx drugs: Market innovations and policy initiatives

The range of policy and market activity related to pharmaceuticals has expanded during the pandemic. From biosimilars to importation; from vaccines to PBM reform, this topic has been and will likely remain among the most discussed areas of Utah health policy. These experts will highlight the most active policy and market activities today, and talk through what it all might mean for the future of the industry.

Katelin Lucariello: Director, State Policy, PhRMA

Steve Schultz: Director, Legislative Affairs, Arthritis Foundation 

Danny Harris: Advocacy Director, AARP 

12:00 - 12:50

Update on Federal Health Policy

With a new federal administration already making strides on health policy, and with Congress primed to move even further on reform this summer, federal health policy has not been so central to reform efforts since 2009. This session will hear from policy advocates at work to shape the next wave of federal policy making in the Biden administration and the 117th Congress.

Paul Dioguardi: Senior Vice President, Forbes Tate 

Scott Nelson: Partner, K&L Gates 

12:00 - 12:50

Lessons from closer integration of behavioral health

With Utah having taken the significant step to integrate behavioral and physical health in a portion of its Medicaid system, there have now been lessons learned from this work that can apply to the state as a whole. Come to this session to find out what some of those takeaways have been, and whether that augurs towards a deeper level of integration or perhaps a step back. 

Juergen Korbanka, Ph.D: Executive Director, Wasatch Behavioral Health

Allison Heffernan: Behavioral Health Outreach and Enrollment Program Director, Utah Health Policy Project 

Emily Bennett: Behavioral Health Integrated Care Coordinator, Association for Utah Community Health

12:00 - 12:50

Re-envisioning a modern health care workforce

The pandemic has shined a light on the need for more access to health care providers, as well as the need to think differently about what we ask our workforce to do. From increased sensitivity to provider burnout to a greater focus on team-based care, this session will discuss strategies underway to build a workforce ready for the next wave of health reform. 

Derek Monson: Vice President, Policy, The Sutherland Institute 

Yvette Woodland: Service Area Director, Wasatch Front South, Department of Workforce Services, State of Utah

Liz Close, PhD: Executive Director, Utah Nurses Association

Ashley Moretz: Director, Utah Department of Health, Office of Primary Care and Rural Health

12:00 - 12:50

How COVID has changed us

After one year of a collective struggle and trauma, from masks to ventilators, how we will have all changed as a result of this experience? In what ways are we different after March, 2020, than we were before? This group of thought leaders will look ahead and talk through what the lasting impacts of this time might mean for us all. 

Amy Khan, MD: Executive Medical Director, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah

Ed Clark, MD: Former Chair, University of Utah Department of Pediatrics

Valentina De Fex: Staff Attorney, ACLU of Utah 

1:00 - 1:45

Keynote: One on one conversations in health care

To end the day, we will convene a diverse set of some of Utah's most thoughtful policy and community voices for short, one on one conversations. This plenary session will provide a forum for some of Utah's most impactful voices on health policy to talk through their work and what they can see on the road ahead in 2021. Come ready to engage and to conclude a busy day at State of Reform! 

Sen. Michael Kennedy: Chair, Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Jon Pike: Commissioner, Utah Insurance Dept. 

Natalie Gochnour: Director, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute