Barney Speight Isn't Kidding When He Says He's Retiring

Before leaving state government, however, Speight had some words of wisdom about the future of coordinated care organizations.


May 10, 2013 – This time around Barney Speight insists it's for real. On July 1, he's stepping down as special assistant to the director of the Oregon Health Authority, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, and intends to retire – for good.

Speight admits that his former employer, Robert Gootee, the CEO of Moda Health Plan (formerly known as ODS Health Plan) told him that he had “flunked retirement” after leaving last summer to return to state government.

“This time it's for real,” Speight told The Lund Report. “I took an incomplete in passing the retirement class earlier, and now I'm emotionally ready to step off.”

Speight, who turns 67 on May 12, says he's also lost his passion for health policy issues and wants to focus his energy on what he calls the three G's – grass, gardening and grandchildren. And, he intends to enroll in the master gardening program offered by the Washington State Extension Service.

Before sharing the news with The Lund Report, Speight shared his insights about the future of the coordinated care organizations when speaking before insurance brokers and health management officials last week at the Western Pension and Benefits Conference.

There's been discussion, he said about these CCOs, which have been implemented to care for people on the Oregon Health Plan, moving into the private commercial marketplace and seeking contracts with groups such as the Public Employees Benefit Board which provides coverage to state employees.

But that's not the intent, Speight insisted. Instead the CCO model of integrating care, providing a medical home and operating within a global budget will lead commercial insurers to adopt a coordinated care model. “A number of these companies,” he said, have first-generation CCO models on the street today.”

Of course, he added that these CCOs could move into the private market, but couldn't assume they reimburse their hospitals and physicians at the Medicaid rate.

Speight returned to state government last August to assist with the transformation process of introducing coordinated care organizations and help with the federal waiver application.

Speight had been at the Health Authority earlier, but had resigned to become vice president of legislative affairs at ODS where he planned to end his professional career. It was actually his second stint at that insurance company. Earlier, he spent a year there as managing director of medical professional relations.

Speight's career has spanned more than 30 years, and he's worked for virtually every sector of the health care system. He was executive director of the Oregon Health Fund Board, which led the way in passing HB 2009 that led to the emergence of coordinating care organizations.

And he's held top management positions at Regence BlueCross BlueShield, the Oregon Medical Association, Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital, Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. He also served as director of the Oregon Office of Health Policy and Research.  

Diane Lund-Muzikant can be reached at [email protected].

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