5 Things Washington: Embright, Rep. Paul Harris, INW keynotes

This newsletter is a collection of five things we think are worth knowing something about if you’re a senior health care executive or policy leader in Washington State. You may find some items more relevant than others. Or perhaps you’ve been looped in on some of these topics far more closely than our reporting. But, hopefully each week, you’ll find a few nuggets that you see worth your time to explore further.

So, let us know what you’d like to hear more about. It’s always good feedback, and helps us provide a better content experience for you.


With help from Emily Boerger



1.  Rep. Paul Harris on death threats from anti-vaxers

Representative Paul Harris represents Washington’s 17th Legislative District in eastern Vancouver and parts of southwest Clark County. He is well regarded by practically everyone in the legislative ecosystem, and has developed one of the most important voices on health policy among legislators.

Last session, Harris sponsored a bill limiting exemptions to the MMR vaccine after his home county was hit with a measles outbreak. The bill ultimately passed, but during its journey through the legislature, Harris said he faced significant backlash and death threats from some in opposition to the bill. In this Q&A, Harris offers his take on the threats, why it was important for him to push forward with the bill regardless, and what we can expect in the future on vaccine-related legislation in Washington.


2. Check out the keynotes you missed

We captured a lot of great content at our 2019 Inland Northwest State of Reform Conference, which is now available for your review! We kicked off the day with three one-on-one conversations with some of the state’s most important health care and health policy leaders. Joining us were David O’Brien, MD, SVP and Chief Executive, Inland Northwest, MultiCare Health System, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Coordinated Care CEO Beth Johnson.

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, House Minority Leader JT Wilcox, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Timm Ormsby joined us for lunch keynote to discuss the dynamics of the Washington State Legislature. And rounding out the day on our afternoon keynote was a multi-perspective conversation on the future of Washington State health care. The panel included Caitlin Safford, Director of Government Relations at Amerigroup, Washington Health Benefit Exchange CEO Pam MacEwan, Bill Akers, SVP at Premera Blue Cross, and Sean Graham, Director of Government Affairs at WSMA.

3. Embright a new CIN for market

Earlier this month, MultiCare Health System, UW Medicine, and LifePoint Health announced they would partner together to form Embright – a new clinically integrated network (CIN) serving the Pacific Northwest. Taken together, the organizations represent 14 hospitals, 6,500 providers, and over 600 outpatient sites of care.

Reporter Emily Boerger spoke with Embright CEO and President Dr. Christopher Kodama about what we can expect from the new CIN, Embright’s overarching goals, and the next steps for the partnership. “This partnership is creating a vehicle in which to bring all of the different components of the health ecosystem – like payers, purchasers, brokers, providers – together into a more synchronized and collaborative view around how to plan on improving population health faster.”


4. Convening Panel for Seattle event meets today

In a few hours, we will be getting our Convening Panel together ahead of the 2020 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference. The event next January will be our 10th event, quite an anniversary that we didn’t ever really expect to hit when we first started out on this pathway!

We try to wait as long as possible to develop our agendas. In this way, the topics are as timely and as practical as is possible. But, with our meeting today – a precise 15 weeks before the January 9th event – the agenda setting process begins in earnest!

Take a look at our Discussion Guide for later today for a sense of the topics we’ve gathered through this process already.

5. PacificSource growing in the Washington State market

PacificSource Health Plan is a new player in the Washington State insurance marketplace. Last week, they were among 13 plans to be approved on to sell individual products on the exchange. The individual market now has two carriers in 31 of 39 counties.

Todd Lovshin is the Washington State lead for PacificSource. He and I talked about the carrier’s plans for Washington State, which you can read here.  They are currently in Clark, Spokane and Pierce Counties, with aspirations of entering the small and group market in 2020.  They have been in the Medicare space since 2018.