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Takeaways from the First Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting

Health Equity, the Underinsured, and the Advantages of Single-Payer

The inaugural Universal Health Care Work Group met last week and it was energizing to see so many medical, community, labor, and business allies from around the state on the committee and in the audience.

Health Care for All - WA  has three Board Members on the 33 member Universal Health Care Work Group:  Kelly Powers (Exchange Consumer), Ronnie Shure (Pharmacist) and Sherry Weinberg, MD (Pediatrician) and several supporters from HCFA-WA Spokane are also members of the Work Group: including Denny Dellwo (former legislator who chaired the WA State House of Representative Health Care Committee which achieved Basic Health Care in the 90s) and Lynnette Vehrs (RN, President of the Washington Nurses Association).

Rep. Nicole Macri (LD-43) , Senators John Braun (LD-20) and Emily Randall (LD-26) attended the meeting. Rep. Schmick (LD-9) was not in attendance. See the Work Group roster.

After discussing the Work Group’s directive from the legislature in the Budget Proviso, there were two presentations: Health Coverage in Washington State and the Washington State Institute of Public Policy (WSIPP) Reports on Single-Payer & Universal Health Care Systems. Watch the entire TVW recording of the meeting or the Health Coverage presentation is at 1:06:16 and the WSIPP Report begins at 2:21:00.

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Part 1 - WA Insurers Raise ACA Premiums <1%, but Trump Due to Inject Another Shock to Costs in 2020



Premiums are ratcheting up, up up like a roller coaster, but without any drops.

We read in the news every day that America’s healthcare crisis endangers people’s lives. Stories about people avoiding going to the doctor, cutting pills in half, buying insulin on the illegal market, waiting in the hospital parking lot to see if they avoid an ER visit, begging bystanders to not call the ambulance, losing insurance due to divorce or job loss. Americans are walking the tightrope between staying alive and staying financially solvent. 

We know that many of us fear an immediate financial threat. But what about the long-term impact on inter-generational financial stability and prosperity due to the cost of the insurance? 

Part One of this two-part series explores the impact of the increases that have happened in the individual market in Washington state since the inception of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, including a second round of Trump Shock to health care costs expected in 2020. Part Two will examine the economic realities families face, and *spoiler alert* we learn that if the premium increases continue, it won’t be long until ACA health care coverage will be unaffordable.

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120 Turn Out to Discuss Health Insurance & Shortage of Medical Clinics in Grays Harbor County Town Hall

Health care in rural Washington has its own special pains, and so it isn't too surprising that a Town Hall devoted to healthcare in August drew 120 Ocean Shores area residents to discuss the need for relief from high premiums, the high rate of uninsured, and a shortage of medical clinics. Read the Grays Harbor News Group article on the town hall here or at the end of this post.

HCFA-WA's Commentary on the Town Hall

The Cascade Care Bill passed by the 2019 Legislature was discussed at the Town Hall. Initially, Cascade Care was promoted as a "Public Option Bill", will help 200,000 people who are already on the Washington Health Care Benefits Exchange, the marketplace for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health and dental insurance in Washington state. Unfortunately, due to skyrocketing premiums since it's inception, Washingtonians are paying too much for even the Silver and Bronze health care plans. The bill, as passed, will lower premiums a bit and require insurers to provide better coverage. And those lower premiums are also designed to help some of the 500,000 people who don't have ANY insurance to perhaps afford it. Because nearly 10% of Washingtonians are affected, Health Care for All Washington lobbied in support of the Cascade Care Bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the legislature earlier this year. We are in support of efforts to cover more people. 
 
Cascade Care is not, however, "single-payer." Washington taxpayers are not covering the cost of this health insurance - or health care - for those who will enroll in the new, lower-cost plans. HCFA-WA has long advocated for a universal health care system that is publicly funded, publicly administered, and publicly delivered. We were instrumental in also passing legislation this year that includes the "Pathway to Universal Health Care", that moves our state in the correct direction. 

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Action Alert: Reauthorize Community Health Centers Funding Now!

According to the Washington Association of Community Health, community & migrant health centers in Washington serve more than 1.1 million residents at over 300 clinic sites, offering primary, preventive & supportive health services.

Don't Let Funding for CHCs Expire. We strongly urge our friends in Congress to support a long-term re-authorization of the Community Health Centers (CHCs) Fund before the funding authorization expires on September 30.

CHCs Are Critical for Universal Health Care. The CHCs are the largest and most successful primary care system in the US. located in all 50 states and territories. They must be a key part of any universal health care system.

Washingtonians Count on CHCs. In Washington State, Community Health Centers serve over 1.1 million patients annually. CHCs are community-based, nonprofit health care providers that serve individuals and families in medically underserved areas or medically underserved populations. They welcome everyone who walks through the door, regardless of ability to pay, and are governed by patient-majority boards. Additionally, they provide a host of services beyond what you'd expect to find in a traditional doctor's office, including language and transportation assistance, referrals to food and housing assistance programs, and family case management.

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News: The First Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting is Fri., Sept. 20th

We have news about the first Universal Health Care Work Group meeting!

UPDATE: Watch the September 2019 meeting!
Find meeting materials here.
The Health Coverage presentation is at 1:06:16 and the WSIPP Report begins at 2:21:00.

Submit public comment until Friday, September 27
at 5 p.m. (Pacific).


Next Meeting:
Friday, November 1st in Olympia.
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With your grassroots advocacy, we were able to secure the Universal Health Care Work Group in the 2019 state legislature. Now the members of the Work Group have been appointed and the first meeting convenes:

Friday, September 20, 2019, 1-5 pm
State Capital Campus, Legislative Building
Columbia Room 119, First Floor
416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Olympia

The meetings are open to the public and there will be time for public comments.
They hope TVW will record the meetings, but that is not certain yet.

Our goal is to advance single-payer healthcare in Washington state and look for ways to work with the legislature to clear the roadblocks and set the table now for when the national funding is made available for state-run programs.

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Ferndale Tragedy Exemplifies Why We Need Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

The Seattle Times published David McLanahan's Letter to the Editor (LTE) last weekend in response to the tragic news about the apparent murder-suicide of an elderly couple in Ferndale, WA who could no longer afford their medical expenses. David represents Physicians for a National Plan-WW (PNHP-WW) on the HCHR-WA Steering Committee.

Dashing off a letter to the editor in response to a news story is an effective way to highlight that expanded and improved Medicare for All is the cure to our health care crisis to a wider audience. New to writing LTEs? Check out this guide from the League of Women Voters.

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October Single Payer Strategy Conference in Portland

Registration ends Friday October 4 for the 2019 Single Payer Strategy Conference in Portland, Oregon! The conference runs from Friday, October 18 through Sunday October 20. Last year's conference in Minneapolis was the kickoff platform for the national barnstorm week of action, which launched over 1,000 organizing actions for the new Medicare for All bill in the House. 

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VIDEO: HCFA-WA's Ronnie Shure speaks at People Over Pharma Profits Rally!

HCFA-WA board member Ronnie Shure gave a speech at the People Over Pharma Profits rally on August 20! Check out the video here.

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Tues. Aug 20th - National Day of Action - People Over Pharma Profits

Please Join Us....

HCHR_Pharma_Profits_w_text.png

Tuesday, August 20th at Noon

Seattle Press Conference and Rally
Jackson Federal Building, 2nd Ave Plaza
915 2nd Avenue, Seattle

Please spread the word!

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The Affordable Care Act is Saving Lives - Quantifiably

Nine years following its passage, research is now coming in on the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Not only has the ACA "...successfully curbed disparities in cancer treatment and allowed many to receive treatment at an earlier stage," but also: "counties in states with expanded Medicaid experienced an average of four fewer deaths from heart disease per 100,000 people than states that didn't accept the expansion under the Affordable Care Act." 

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