On Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, NASHP presented its 32nd Annual State Health Policy Conference Academy Award to a team of Washington state policymakers and legislators who have worked together to implement pioneering policies to improve the quality, cost, and delivery of health care in their state. Below are remarks made by Joe Flores, Virginia governor’s deputy secretary of finance and NASHP executive committee member and chair of its Health Access and Finance Committee, during the award’s presentation.
It is my distinct privilege this afternoon to present NASHP’s highest honor – the Academy Award – recognizing outstanding achievement in state health policy.
For those of you who were here as we kicked off this meeting two days ago, you will remember that we recognized a Rising Star in Health Policy. This afternoon, however, we recognize a group of health policy leaders whose star continues to shine bright, which is a change from our usual practice.
These leaders have been in the trenches for many years, have the battle scars to prove it, but also have gained the wisdom of knowing that lasting change takes time, effort, and persistence. And, we learned this week that a healthy dose of humor doesn’t hurt either.
These leaders understand, like NASHP, that meaningful reform requires setting a big table where different viewpoints can be heard. Whether you’re from the Governor’s Office, the legislature, a state agency, the Bureau of Insurance, or an advocacy group, we need to hear about health policy from different perspectives to be successful. We need to listen and learn from one another, sometimes disagree, and then move forward.
The leaders we honor today – and their peers across their state – have been consistent in promoting important advances in state health policy. This state placed the administration of Medicaid, state employee health insurance, and recently teacher’s health plans under one authority; it led in establishing the Basic Health Plan; created an all-payer claims database to inform policy, and secured Medicaid waivers that established accountable communities for health. Of course, many states have achieved similar successes but today we honor a group of leaders who have worked together, many for decades and some changing positions along the way, who demonstrate what collaboration looks like and what it can achieve.
Most recently these leaders, along with many others, created the first public option plan, including cost containment through reference pricing to Medicare and standard plan design to protect consumers. A very significant achievement, indeed, but in many ways it is just the latest example of progress in the State of Washington and one achieved in no small part from the collaborative work of the leaders we honor today. Let me introduce them and ask them to come forward to accept this award. They are:
- State Representative Eileen Cody, Chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee;
- Pam MacEwan, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Health Benefit Exchange;
- Jane Beyer, Senior Health Policy Advisor to the Insurance Commissioner;
- Jason McGill, previously Senior Health Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor;
- Maryanne Lindeblad, Medicaid Director; and
- Mich’l Needham, Chief Policy Officer, Washington Health Care Authority.