Health care is a complicated topic. Even though the Affordable Care Act remains in place, changes in policy at the federal level mean its future is uncertain. Regionally, actions by lawmakers in both Washington and Idaho show a health care landscape constantly in flux. Spokane Public Radio and City Cable 5 helped cut through the confusion by answering questions at a live public forum: Living in the Health Care Maze, on Tuesday, March 20 in the Spokane City Council Chambers. The forum was broadcast several times on KPBX, KSFC, and City Cable 5. You can listen to the complete forum here:
SPR’s Steve Jackson moderated a discussion with a panel of health and government experts. They explored the Affordable Care Act, how the health care maze affects the average consumer, how hospitals and clinics are dealing with changes, the Medicaid gap in Idaho, Medicare options, and much more.
Our Panelists included:
Elaine Couture - Providence St. Joseph Health Executive VP/Chief Executive, Washington and Montana Chief Executive, Providence Health Care
Elaine oversees operations of an expansive health care delivery system including 13 hospitals and numerous clinic locations, with more than 1,300 employed physicians and advanced practitioners, and over 21,000 employees. In addition, Elaine oversees numerous joint ventures and serves as chief executive for Inland Northwest Health Services and Providence Health Care.
Elaine serves on numerous boards, including Federal Reserve Bank Board; American Hospital Association Metro Governing Council; Washington State Hospital Association Board of Directors; Greater Spokane Incorporated Board of Trustees; Washington State University Advisory Board and Spokane’s University District Board.
Elaine began her career in health care as a candy striper and learned she wanted to be “at the bedside helping people”. Elaine went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Montana State University and her Master’s in Business Administration from Liberty University.
Mike Kreidler - Washington State Insurance Commissioner
Mike is Washington’s eighth insurance commissioner, first elected in 2000 and re-elected to his fifth term in 2016. He is the longest-serving insurance commissioner in the country.
A doctor of optometry, Mike practiced at Group Health Cooperative in Olympia for 20 years, and holds a master’s degree in public health. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and served in both the state Legislature and in the U.S. Congress.
As insurance commissioner, Mike has earned a reputation both as a staunch advocate for consumer protection and as a fair and balanced regulator. He is a national leader on issues as diverse as health care reform, consumer protection and climate change.
Michael Marchand - Washington Health Benefit Exchange Chief Marketing Officer
Michael is the Chief Marketing Officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Michael has over two decades of experience successfully delivering on policy, advocacy, and communications goals. In this role he is responsible for the Exchange’s strategic commitment to branding, marketing, advertising, public relations, and public education, including oversight of the Exchange’s grant-based Navigator program.
Michael has been at the forefront of national health reform and IT efforts, most recently overseeing communications and stakeholder engagement for the state’s successful Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, that has provided more than $100 million in federal payments to eligible professionals and hospitals. Prior to working with the state, Michael served as a director with both Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he earned the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service related to advocacy and outreach. He also served as a deputy for Gov. Gary Locke of Washington providing guidance on numerous issues including healthcare. Michael received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Franklin & Marshall College
Aaron Wilson - CHAS Health Chief Executive Officer
Aaron serves as Chief Executive Officer at CHAS Health, the primary care medical home for more than 75,000 patients. At CHAS, Aaron leads a staff of more than 700 employees, and provides oversight for a network of thirteen health center service delivery sites, including two urgent cares and a Nurse Practitioner Residency Clinic. In Aaron’s sixteen years at CHAS, he has overseen numerous site and service expansions in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Prior to joining CHAS, Aaron earned his Juris Doctorate at Gonzaga University, and practiced law. Aaron prioritizes family time with his wife and three children, and he enjoys coaching soccer.
Jessa Lewis with “Health Care for All”; Dennis Fletcher with Fletcher Financial Group, an insurance agency specializing in Medicare; and Tim Jordan with "Reclaim Idaho" also participated in the discussion.
The moderator, Steve Jackson, is the voice of local news and weather during Morning Edition. Since 1999, he has produced news reports for KPBX and KSFC. He recently hosted SPR forums on emergency preparedness and suicide prevention.
SPR has presented public-interest forums since 1994, exploring topics such as sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, autism and diabetes.
The forum will also be broadcast on City Cable 5 and be available on this page as a podcast about a week after the forum airs as well.