Some of health care’s most insightful leaders joined us on our morning keynote at our 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference to talk about what they’re watching in their states and throughout the country. They discussed how their states handled the pandemic, advice they would give to health care leaders, and planned policy reforms in their markets.
On the keynote was Steve Love, chief executive officer of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, Kim Bimestefer, director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and Eric Hunter, chief executive officer of CareOregon.
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First, Love discussed how Texas hospitals were hit hard by Covid, but accompanied with support in staffing and resources from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and other state leaders.
Love said there is much to be done to expand access to those on Medicaid and to lower the utilization of emergency departments, which have seen very high numbers. Love plans to work with the legislature and policy experts to achieve these goals.
“The state has been critical working with us during this pandemic, but as we look to the future we do have some legislative items around coverage, access that we need to address.”
Bimestefer praised Governor Jared Polis’ winding down of pandemic mitigations and for “listening to science” throughout the public health emergency (PHE). She said we are over the hump of COVID and that people need to get out and get healthy.
She said Colorado has many plans in place to achieve the goal of a healthier state population. She is focused on increasing affordability through the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care, increasing equity, and increasing behavioral health coverage in the state through the creation of a centralized Behavioral Health Administration.
“We are serving 1 in 4 Coloradans, the biggest health plan in the state by far, and we have to be a better leader in affordability for ourselves in Medicaid paid for by taxpayers, but also to drive affordability in policy for the rest of Colorado.”
Hunter described CareOregon as the “safety net of the safety net” made to support the most vulnerable Oregonians. Through their unique Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) model, Hunter said they already had measures in place for every silo to be at the table to handle the pandemic and address issues of equitable access to testing and vaccines.
“The crisis enabled us to take advantage of things we have already developed and worked with partners to move forward, but now with the crisis, there was a catalyst for folks to actually buy in.”
Hunter highlighted the legislature’s effort to create a smooth transition after the PHE for those who might lose Medicaid coverage after redeterminations. He said the legislature is working on a “bridge” program to move those who lose Medicaid coverage into the marketplace, without an immediate drop off in coverage.
You can watch the full keynote presentation here.