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USofCare Inaugural Convening – Rundown

Published On December 14, 2018

United States of Care is proud to have completed our inaugural convening, entitled The Path Ahead: A Road Map for American Health Care. Patients and advocates, policymakers and influencers, and researchers from across the country came together in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Barbara Jordan Conference Center to discuss the future of health care in the United States.  A wide variety of perspectives were represented on the panels and presentations which made up the day-long event, and we were especially glad to carve out a little time for discussion between, and input from, the exceptional group of experts gathered in the room.

Senior Director of Public Affairs Tom Kise moderated the first panel of the day: What Election Results and Public Opinion Research Tell Us About Americans’ Health Care Values. The discussion focused on recent findings in health care public opinion polling commissioned by United States of Care.  Tom was joined by Sarah Simmons, the Managing Director of Insights and Strategy at Purple Strategies, Kevin Madden, Partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, and Chris Jennings, the Founder and President of Jennings Policy Strategies.  It remains clear that health care was top of mind for voters in November’s Midterm Elections, as 85% of voting respondents rated it either very or somewhat important in their decision making, and the three panelists agreed that it will continue to be critical to the political agenda in the coming years and elections.

After hearing about the tenor of public opinion at a national level and the implications for policymaking, we shifted our focus to what that demand from voters means in states. Founder’s Council member Lan Sena, a community leader, and current cancer patient, shared how her family’s experiences with the health care system have convinced her that states can, and should, be making progress to improve affordability and access, even as we continue to discuss a national solution. Following Lan’s introduction, United States of Care’s Senior Director of State Affairs, Allison O’Toole, moderated the second panel, Starting Local: Exploring Solutions and Building Evidence for Reform. Minnesota State Senator Tony Lourey, Dr. Rhonda Medows, Executive Vice President of Providence St. Joseph Health and Bill Kramer, Executive Director for National Health Policy at Pacific Business Group on Health shared their perspectives about the roles of government, providers, and businesses in testing innovative ideas at the community and state level.  

One of the highlights of the event was a video presentation featuring several members of United States of Care’s Founder’s Council.  They shared the reasons they believe health care should be affordable and accessible to all Americans and described why they joined United States of Care in our mission to make that a reality.

Following a brief lunch, attendees settled in for a panel moderated by Julie Rovner, host of Kaiser Family Foundation’s podcast What the Health.  Julie was joined by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), former Governor of Kentucky Steve Beshear (D-KY), and President and CEO of California Health Care Foundation Sandra Hernández for a conversation about Forging a Path to Affordable, Quality Health Care for All Americans. The panelists agreed that while there are no “magic wands” when it comes to solving entrenched problems in health care, it is possible for the United States to create a system in which everyone has accessible, affordable, and quality care. Reflecting on their own depth of experience on the front lines of health policy, they encouraged leaders to take a practical approach to moving the ball forward.

Throughout the day, several speakers and attendees highlighted the importance of addressing so-called “social determinants of health” – non-medical factors like housing, food, and transportation, which can have a significant impact on our health. That topic was a primary focus of the next panel: “Beyond ‘Coverage’ – State Strategies To Address Costs And Improve Care.” Founder’s Council member Molly Coye facilitated the discussion between Adam Boehler, Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and Mandy Cohen, the Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. Secretary Cohen spoke about how her experiences as a primary care physician inform her perspective and leadership, and described the state’s groundbreaking Healthy Opportunities pilot program, which was included in a waiver approved by CMS this fall. Deputy Administrator Boehler spoke about his role in driving payment innovation for CMS and the US Department of Health and Human Services, and four areas the Administration is focused on advancing: patients as consumers, providers as accountable entities, payment for outcomes, and prevention. The panel demonstrated that even in the current environment of partisanship at the federal level, there are opportunities for bipartisan collaboration and progress, especially on efforts to pay for value.

At the end of the day’s program, we sought to go beyond high-level discussions and dig in on the steps that our organization and the leaders in the room should be focusing on now, in order to make progress and build evidence at the state level.  United States of Care’s Senior Policy Director Kristin Wikelius introduced a panel focused on Identifying The Building Blocks Of Change which was moderated by Dave Grande, Director of Policy at our research partner organization, The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. The panel included United States of Care Policy fellows Jason Helgerson and John McCarthy, and co-founder of Little Lobbyists Elena Hung.  They shared their perspectives on the policy, political, and clinical components that are all critical to address in our efforts. The panel kicked off roundtable conversations amongst attendees, designed to utilize the wealth of knowledge in the room for collaborative discussions about key questions United States of Care is focused on.  

The program ended with a Fireside Chat between Board Chair Andy Slavitt, former Senator Dave Durenberger (R-MN), and former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama Kristie Canegallo.  The three commented on the broader political context within which health care is being discussed, drawing on their collective decades of experience in different facets of the federal government.  

United States of Care is grateful for the valuable input and engagement from the wide range of attendees who joined us. “Far too many Americans are unable to access affordable health care, and this convening brought together policy experts, thought leaders, patients, and patient advocates to strategize durable solutions. We were able to begin a dialogue to drive toward a long-term vision of expanding affordable health care to every single American,” said Emily Barson, Executive Director of United States of Care, following the event.

Below you can find links to key resources from the event:

Founder’s Council Video:

Full Livestream: