5 Things Oregon: Conference keynotes, Panel coverage


Eli Kirshbaum


Last month, hundreds of Oregon health policy stakeholders gathered in Portland for the 2022 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference! It was a wonderful gathering of some of the state’s most impactful leaders in the health sector, and we are so thankful for everyone who contributed to making it such an informative, memorable event.

If you weren’t able to join us this year, our Digital Media Specialist made a “What You Missed” video recapping the day—check it out here!

This newsletter includes videos of a couple of the conference keynotes, as well as coverage from several of the expert panel discussions we held throughout the day.

Thank you for your support!

Eli Kirshbaum
State of Reform


1. Keynote videos: OHA Director Pat Allen and former Gov. John Kitzhaber

We were so honored to have Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen deliver the Lunch Keynote at last month’s conference. You can watch his full keynote here to hear him discuss his experience leading the agency during the pandemic, OHA’s unwavering commitment to improving health equity, and more.

At the end of the day, we had the pleasure of hosting former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber for a closing keynote. Drawing on his immense experience in Oregon health policy, Kitzhaber’s keynote includes his vision for state health policy going forward, the onset of CCOs, and  potential solutions for mitigating the increasing cost of care. Watch his full keynote here.


2. Legislators from both parties outline health policy priorities heading into 2023

During our legislative panels at the conference, Democrat Sen. Kate Lieber said she’s most proud of her passed bill to support nurse mental health during the 2022 session, and Republican Rep. Raquel Moore-Green said her biggest legislative win was the passage of her bill to require insurers to cover 3 annual primary care visits—which can be behavioral health visits. To continue her behavioral health advocacy, Moore-Green said she plans to introduce legislation to establish a Senate behavioral health committee.

Lieber and fellow Democrat Rep. Rachel Prusak said additional legislative work is needed to secure continuity of care for those exiting the criminal justice or foster care systems. Lieber said it was a missed opportunity to not include this in the state’s recently approved 1115 waiver extension, but nonetheless praised the extension’s coverage expansions. Republican Rep. Christine Goodwin hopes health policymaking is bipartisan next session: “Parties have to come together and take the best ideas from both parties. Often, we have a common goal.”


3. Rural health leaders talk workforce support efforts

Adventist Health Tillamook is spending around $400,000 per month on contract labor due to rising healthcare labor costs in rural areas, according to the facility’s President Eric Swanson. Speaking alongside other rural health experts at last month’s conference, Swanson explained how his organization is collaborating with Tillamook Bay Community College to strengthen the rural health workforce pipeline and alleviate the issue.

Brian Moore, President of Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, said his organization is working to boost workplace morale as staff retention rates suffer due to COVID burnout. “They’re responding perfectly normally from a burnt out environment,” he said. In talking through potential retention strategies, Swanson noted that Adventist hired a Well-being Director to promote caregiver morale, and Orchid Health Executive Director Orion Falvey urged the promotion of trust and autonomy among the healthcare workforce.


4. Where is Oregon seeing success with SDOH, and where does work still need to be done?

Speakers on our “How addressing the social determinants impacts health equity” panel reiterated the importance of collecting and sharing accurate data about social determinants of health. Suggested strategies outlined by panelists include using data sourced from community members to craft initiatives specific to their needs (rather than going in with a plan without consulting the community), augmenting the role of community health workers, and creating better ways to share the SDOH data collected by different stakeholders.

Discussing SDOH initiatives that have yielded success in Oregon, RJ Briscione, Principal at the Focus Group, cited Health Share Oregon’s initiative that provided hundreds of portable air conditioning units to Medicaid members at risk of heat-related health complications this summer. Dr. Richard Bruno of Central City Concern noted how the City of Portland helped unhoused individuals by implementing a public health-conscious “pod” system during the pandemic.


5. Experts discuss Oregon abortion policy after Roe overturn

Speakers discussed post-Hobbs abortion policy in Oregon during the conference’s “The courts and their impact on health policy” panel. Bruce Howell, Program Director of Willamette University’s Certificate in Health Law Program, said a central concern is whether states like Texas that have strong abortion restrictions will prosecute residents for traveling to pro-abortion states like Oregon to receive the procedure.

An Do, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said Oregon and other states that are safeguarding the right to abortions are filing lawsuits to defend abortion services using the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The Oregon Department of Justice is using this federal law to claim that hospitals in anti-abortion states like Texas and Idaho are violating patients’ rights to essential medical care.