5 Things Utah: Q&A with Rep. Dunnigan & Sen. Davis, Rx importation, Dr. Chandra Gowda

Last month, we held our 2019 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference! It was a tremendous event, a full room, and lots of very smart folks engaging in conversation.  If you missed the conference, don’t fret!  We feature some of those discussions for you here in this edition of 5 Things We’re Watching in Utah health care for May, 2019.

1. 2019 Utah State of Reform: What You Missed

Less than a month ago, we hosted our 2019 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference with over 250 attendees from across the spectrum of Utah’s health care sector. Sixty-five panelists and keynote speakers dug into some of the most complex issues in health care policy and reform.  For a sense of the day, check out the highlights.

For a review of some the conversations at State of Reform this year, check out my conversation with Congressman Ben McAdams, who gave his insights into what Utahns might expect from their federal partnership. I also spoke with Dr. Joseph Miner, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health. Finally, the day kicked off with a presentation from former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, MD, who shared Oregon’s approach to Medicaid reform – one that had some similarities to the block grant model Gov. Herbert’s administration is preparing.


2. Update on the next 1115 waiver

The next 1115 Medicaid waiver is beginning to take shape. The Utah Dept. of Health and CMS both tell reporter Emily Viles that they are working through some last “follow up questions” to prepare the final waiver submission.

The 1115 waiver would propose that a new “Per Capita Cap Plan” replace the existing “Bridge Plan.”  From a new post on the DoH website: “The Per Capita Plan covers adults up to 100% FPL and requests the following provisions: self-sufficiency requirement, enrollment cap, up to 12-month continuous eligibility, employer-sponsored insurance enrollment, lock-out for intentional program violation provision, and a per capita cap.  This plan will also request 90% federal/10% state funding.”

3. Q&A: Sen. Davis and Rep. Dunnigan

Sen. Gene Davis and Rep. Jim Dunnigan are senior members of the legislature, and both serve on the Health Reform Task Force. We sat down with them at our 2019 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference to talk through the legislative session, SB 96, and the future of Medicaid reform.

You can watch our complete lunch keynote conversation here. Sen. Davis reminded the audience that he has run legislation to expand Medicaid in each of the last few sessions. “I believe in full Medicaid expansion. People should have ability to access quality health care at an affordable rate.” Rep. Jim Dunnigan, put SB 96 in a fiscal context saying “…we’ll expand Medicaid, but we want to do it in a financially responsible way. So, that is what Senate Bill 96 did.”


4. Video: Dr. Chandra Gowda on cost

Dr. Chandra Gowda is the Chief Medical Officer of Molina Healthcare of Utah. She joined us for an edition of “What They’re Watching” and shared her thoughts on controlling the cost of care, as well as behavioral health integration and value-based care.

“We know that the current trajectory of the health care spending is not sustainable,” Gowda says. “Right now, our health care spend is 17.9% GDP, and that’s supposed to grow to 20% by 2027. So, if we do not bend the cost curve, if we do not mitigate the trends, then…we are headed into uncharted waters.”


5. National impact for Utah Rx importation

Introduced during Utah’s 2019 legislative session, House Bill 267 would’ve directed the Utah Department of Health to seek approval for a drug importation program with Canada. The bill was considered in both the Utah House and Senate, but was not passed on final readings.

Nationally, the future of similar bills is looking brighter: President Donald Trump recently directed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to work with Florida’s governor on the state’s drug importation program, after a bill passed through the Florida State Legislature. This could offer renewed momentum for Utah policy makers to get behind importation as other states begin to employ this strategy.