CMS Announcement Does Not Affect WA Transformation Funding

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a letter to all state Medicaid Directors stating that it would no longer accept state requests to receive funding where Designated State Health Programs (DSHP) are identified to draw down federal matching dollars. This impacts new requests and requests for renewals of waivers. This ruling does not impact Washington’s current five-year Medicaid project, which the ACHs are an integral partner in. You can find the HCA Authority announcement here and the CMS letter here

Interested in a Board or Committee Seat?

Members of the North Sound ACH Board of Directors have staggered terms, so each year they go through a process of filling open seats. Some Board members have their terms renewed, while some seats are filled by new members. People who express interest are considered for the Board, Program Council and other committees. If you are passionate about this region’s work to transform health and are looking for a way to formally get involved, please email us and we will send you some introductory materials! 

Let’s Take Care When Making Change

We are living through some turbulent political and social times – nationally and internationally. There are many days when I’m asked how Washington’s demonstration will fair as Congress is making attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and then what people can do to influence change. It is hard to respond in specifics but I’ll share some thoughts, and maybe you can share your thoughts with us too. 

The recent decision by the House of Representatives, passing the ‘repeal and replace’ of the ACA, shows just how complex our system is. You know the phrase “the devil is in the details.” Well, as this debate moves to the Senate it is clear that most people in this country don’t understand the myriad connections that make our system what it is. For example, forcing insurers to sell insurance to you even with pre-existing conditions, without having any restrictions on cost, minimum coverage, and protections on out-of-pocket charges, is fully going back to how things were before passage of the Affordable Care Act. There is no “replace” to this “repeal and replace.” 

Many Americans don’t understand that pregnancy, domestic violence, and migraines were pre-existing conditions that allowed insurers to deny coverage. And yes, insurers could sell plans that covered only hospital care, but no primary care, and other variations on minimum coverage options. 

So, for the North Sound ACH – we can be a beacon of light and opportunity in our region. We can bring together partners who might not always agree on strategy, but agree on the end we have in mind – having a healthier population, treating the whole person, and finding ways for our dollar to go further than it has in the past. We do that by being efficient and innovative, knowing that leaving anyone out of the care system only decreases population health, not improves it. 

You can reach out to your Senator, regardless of your politics, and let them know that you want to see improvement, not retrenchment; that you want to see better, not worse; that you want better health and easier access, not less or no access to care and services. One phone call can make all the difference. You don’t have to push for a specific Bill A or Bill B, but, if you don’t reach out, they won’t know that you want better.

We cannot be silent, and we cannot allow Congress to be careless in the decisions they make. It took time to build our system; it will take time to be thoughtful in making changes that take care of us all.

Thanks and be well – 

Welcome Nicole Willis!

A big welcome to Nicole Willis, bringing more than 14 years of experience in local public health to the North Sound Each team.

Over the past three years, she has been the Epidemiologist at the Whatcom County Health Department. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science Education degree in School and Community Health Education from the University of Idaho and a Master of Public Health degree in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice from the University of Washington.
Throughout her career, Nicole has sharpened her expertise in epidemiology, informatics, performance management, and health policy development. She is also experienced in coordinating community health assessment activities involving the data collection, analysis and interpretation.  
Nicole is a recent graduate from the Informatics-Training in Place Program Fellowship, which is sponsored and led through a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

We are so excited to have her joining our team! She will be on board late in May, and her email address is

Positions Posted!

The North Sound ACH is seeking several highly qualified individuals to join our team. The ideal candidates will be ready to ‘hit the ground running.’ There are fast approaching deliverables, and staff will play integral roles in the success of this region’s Accountable Community of Health.  

While the Administrative office is housed in Bellingham, successful candidates will not be required to have their office in Bellingham; we will have remote office locations throughout the region.    

The North Sound ACH does not discriminate against any person with regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability. To strengthen our team, candidates from across the North Sound region and from diverse backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply.


Benefits are offered to all permanent employees including: paid holidays, Paid Time Off (vacation and sick leave), medical, dental and vision benefits, contribution to 401K.   

Note: A valid driver’s license and proof of insurance are required of all permanent staff. Successful candidates will have ready access, and ability, to operate a motor vehicle.

The Application Packet for all positions will consist of:

  • a current resume or CV,
  • a writing sample and
  • a cover letter describing why you are interested in this position.

The current positions are posted at this link.   Completed Application Packets must be received no later than 5 p.m. March 30th in order for consideration in the first round of review.

Send completed Application Packet via email to or by postal mail to North Sound ACH, PO Box 4256, Bellingham WA, 98227.  

The North Sound ACH is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer

HCA Public Forum: Medicaid Transformation

Accountable Communities of Health

The Washington State Health Care Authority is holding a series of public meetings across the state to provide details of the state’s plan to test new and innovative approaches to providing Medicaid health coverage in Washington.

The North Sound Region public forum will be held from 6 to 7:30 Wednesday, March 1 at the Skagit Valley College Multipurpose Room, 2405 E. College Way in Mt. Vernon.

The event is intended to be an opportunity for the public to engage, ask questions, and offer comments about the recently signed Medicaid Transformation Project demonstration, and special terms and conditions.

What HCA will cover

Explanation of the three initiative areas of the demonstration:

  • Regional strategies for system transformation
  • Service options for older adults and individuals with disabilities
  • Key foundational community support services for Medicaid clients with critical needs


Registration is not required but it is encouraged. To sign up to attend the free event, click here.


The State of Washington received a signed agreement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), providing up to $1.1 billion in incentives to launch a five-year demonstration, effective January 1, 2017, to achieve better care, better health, and better value; as well as $375 million to support services for Medicaid clients. Find details and resources on the Medicaid Transformation web page.

Clinicians: FREE LARC training on 3/23!

Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) options are the most effective forms of birth control available but national research has shown that many providers do not not have the training to offer the full range of contraceptive options to their patients.

The North Sound ACH is partnering with national trainers to offer a free all-day training on LARC methods, notably insertion of a range of intrauterine devices and subdermal implants. The training will be in Mt. Vernon on Thursday, March 23, and includes the option of CMEs. To register, please fill out the form HERE.

Exact location and additional details will be sent following registration. We are prioritizing clinicians who serve the North Sound: Skagit, Snohomish, Island, San Juan and Whatcom counties. However, we will accommodate other clinicians as space is available in the order of registration.

If you have questions, please contact Lee Che LEONG at or (360) 788-6570.