5 Things Oregon: Retirements in the legislature, “What You Missed,” John Kitzhaber

2019 has been a big year for us at State of Reform.  We held our 8th annual conference in Portland, and now host State of Reform in 13 markets (crazy, right?)  More importantly, perhaps, we recently hired Madeline Shannon of The Newport News-Times to help us cover Oregon health policy and the 2020 session in Salem, among other duties. She’s fabulous and comes having just earned a Second Place for government reporting by the Oregon Newpaper Publishers Association.

So, thank you.  It’s with your help and support that we have been able to build something unique: a nine-state network of health care journalism funded entirely by the community through our annual events.

Happy holidays!



With help from Emily Boerger.


1. What you missed at State of Reform last month

Last month we hosted the 2019 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference, bringing together over 400 attendees from across Oregon’s health care ecosystem. If you weren’t able to make it to the conference, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. You can check out this highlight video from the conference to get a feel for the sights and sounds of the event.

We also captured our keynote discussions and presentations for your review. Robin Gelburd, President of FAIR Health, kicked off the day with our morning keynote. Our lunch keynote featured one on one conversations with Sen. James Manning, OHA Director Pat Allen, HMA principal Janet Meyer, and CareOregon CEO Eric Hunter. And, former Governor John Kitzhaber rounded out the day, offering remarks during our afternoon keynote.


2. Kitzhaber’s concerns about CCO 2.0

At the State of Reform, former Gov. John Kitzhaber raised concerns about the direction coordinated care organizations are headed. He lamented the new administrative burdens and the degradation of the localized nature of CCOs. His punchline: legislators should press the “pause button” to re-evaluate the trajectory of CCO 2.0.

Kitzhaber’s comments had an impact. His remarks were covered by The Lund Report and the Portland Business Journal. And, while Kitzhaber wasn’t mentioned by name, many of his concerns were topics of discussion at a recent Senate Interim Committee on Health Care meeting. At the meeting, senators pressed OHA Director Pat Allen on a number of issues related to CCO 2.0, which we cover here.


3.  Retirements in the legislature

In this piece, Tom Holt takes a look at the growing list of Oregon legislative retirements that may shift the political center on health policy. Notable retirees include Senate Health Committee Chair Laurie Monnes Anderson, Senate Mental Health Committee Chair Arnie Roblan, Senate Revenue Committee Chair Mark Hass (who is running for Secretary of State), and House Behavioral Health Subcommittee Chair Mitch Greenlick.

From Holt’s piece: “Bench replacements are not obvious. No Democrat with prior significant health-policy experience is free of other significant chairmanship obligations, and both Democrats remaining on the Health Committee hold other gavels… Beyond committee mechanics, announced Senate Democratic departures all are moderates, which could change the internal dynamics of the 18-member Democratic Caucus.”

4. You should track Samoa. Seriously.

In an island nation of about 200,000 residents, 2.5% of the population has been confirmed to have the measles in an epidemic that has spread in just the last four weeks. So far, 72 have died, the majority of which were babies and kids under 4. A mass vaccination campaign has begun, moving the vaccinated population from an estimated 30% to over 93%.

If your response is “2.5% isn’t much,” it’s this much: the government shut down. Basic food and sanitation supplies are withering as businesses are forced to close and residents are told to stay home. Foreign nationals are working to send coffins for babies because there are not enough to meet the need.  Anti-vaxxers have mobilized to explain measles is a result in Vitamin C and A deficiency. Some are now being detained for spreading misinformation that has led to deaths.

Just a note: Three Waldorf Schools have vaccination rates below 50% at the pre-K level for all vaccines. Thirty-two K-12 schools are below 50% vaccination rates. Be sure you know what the status is at your child’s school.

5. Capretta: The rise of the public option

Jim Capretta at the American Enterprise Institute is one of the smartest, most well regarded health policy observers in the country. He pens a monthly column for us at State of Reform where he offers our community some of his insights.

This month, Capretta argues that Democrats are not likely to actually pursue a “Medicare for All” option, should the nominee win the White House. “The party’s next big idea in health care will be a public option, not single-payer,” says Capretta. His column is always worth a read, but I think that’s particularly the case this month with the Iowa caucuses two months away on Feb. 3rd.