For several years now, I’ve moderated an AHCJ conference panel on health reform in the states and will do it again this year at Health Journalism 2016 in Cleveland. We’ll get pretty granular this year, looking at two specific states – Massachusetts and Washington state – and provide a national overview of how states are looking ahead to next year to solve some of their persistent challenges.
Those challenges include a relatively low rate of young and healthy people signing up, persistent public misconception about what the law does and does not do, and of course, affordability, affordability, affordability.
The session, “The health plan at six – still having growing pains,” is scheduled for 9-10:20 a.m. on Friday, April 8.
I chose Massachusetts because it is ahead of the rest of the country in many respects in implementing reform. It began offering better coverage under a state reform plan (aka. “Romneycare”) and began tackling the cost issue a few years later. And they did it in somewhat bipartisan manner– under governors Mitt Romney (a Republican), Deval Patrick (a Democrat), and now Charlie Baker, (another Republican). Brian Rosman, government relations and policy director of Health Care for All, will be our Massachusetts speaker, and he’ll also talk about how Massachusetts achieved a lower uninsured rate than the ACA overall, partly due to lower cost-sharing.
Washington state I chose because it’s a pretty strong success story – not perfect, but strong. And it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention for what it did right, perhaps because neighboring Oregon, with a similar commitment to reform and similar demographics, got so much attention about what it did wrong. We have a state official, Nathan Johnson, who will talk about what the state has done on Medicaid and the exchange, and about its broader “health transformation platform” designed to shore up ACA sustainability. Johnson is chief policy officer policy for the Washington Health Care Authority.
For a state overview, we’ll have Trish Riley, the executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy and president of its corporate board. Riley also has worked as a state official, largely in Maine. She can help us understand some of the trends and challenges in states across the country.
The speakers know to expect a lot of questions and come equipped with story ideas for you to take home.
One note: we did invite a few “red” and “purple” state officials – some of whom declined and some of whom had genuine scheduling conflicts that they tried to juggle on our behalf. We’ll try them again next year. Among those who declined was the director of Ohio Medicaid – the program Gov. John Kasich keeps talking about…
Not yet registered for AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2016 conference? The advance registration deadline for the April 7-10 event is past, but you can still join us with on-site registration. Check here for details.