State of Reform 2022: Fighting for solutions and managing challenges

By Regence
January 13, 2022
State of Reform 2022

Above: Claire Verity of Regence BlueShield (lower left); Dr. Nari Heshmati of The Everett Clinic (upper left); Jennifer Muhm of the Washington State Nurses Association (upper right); and Washington State Rep. Liz Berry (lower right)

The Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference unfolded this month amid skyrocketing COVID cases and nearly two years into a global pandemic. State of Reform host DJ Wilson acknowledged the upheaval in his opening remarks. “I think we’re all struggling a bit to varying degrees, and it’s worth saying that things are hard.”

And yet, more than 500 health industry and public policy leaders gathered virtually for the one-day conference to discuss the issues facing Washington, including housing insecurity, health care workforce challenges, health disparities, health care payment reform and our state’s behavioral health crisis.

“You all come from many silos and yet you are all here, working together again, because we know the problems we face require more collaboration and more conversation, not less,” Wilson said to attendees.

Regence BlueShield Market President Claire Verity and Regence Vice President of Clinical Services Julie Lindberg were among the panelists tackling these critical questions.

Verity led a panel on the urgent issues in the Washington health care workforce. Many clinicians and other professionals are planning to leave the industry, faced with low morale and burnout from the pandemic and other factors, including a lack of diversity.   

“We have a crisis,” Verity said. “It’s a watershed moment, and we collectively need to work together to find solutions that are sustainable and help us build the workforce of tomorrow.”

Lindberg, leading a panel on health equity, said Regence took away lessons from its work in building a health equity program. Last month Regence announced the “4 Communities” project, a $1 million philanthropic investment to increase access to preventative and chronic care for people living in areas of greatest need, including South King County, Wash., and communities in Oregon, Idaho and Utah.

Regence focused its investment on boosting existing community health programs, Lindberg said. “We consistently hear the best way to help members with social risk factors, with system risk factors, is working with and through communities, to strengthen the trust and the credibility and the understanding of how to help people in ways unique to communities.”

Watch this video for additional highlights of this month’s Washington State of Reform conference.