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Message from HCFA-WA President: Washington Isn't Waiting

As we take time to connect with family and friends during this summer recess, we are also planning our work for the coming year. This year, we have a three-pronged strategy:

1. Universal Health Care Work Group. We are happy to report that nearly 1/3 of the Work Group is comprised of single-payer supporters and include three of our Board Members: Kelly Powers, Ronald Shure, Sherry Weinberg, MD, and two of our Spokane members: Lynette Vehrs and Denny Dellwo, a former state legislator. The first Work Group meeting will be in September. Meetings will be open to the public, and there will be time allotted at each meeting for public comments.

2. Advocate for the State-Based Universal Health Care Act (SBUHC Act) that is due to be introduced into the U.S. Congress, possibly as early as this fall. Federal support - both financial and regulatory - would smooth the way for state-based single-payer plans.

Your Action Needed: There is something you can do immediately and quickly... Please email Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) to let him know that we are counting on him to reintroduce the bill!

3. Set the Table for Single-Payer with More Legislation. We are continuing to work with key leadership and universal health care champions to develop legislation that will move us closer to providing affordable and accessible healthcare for our state's residents.

Health Care for All-Washington is the leading group in Washington state dedicated to fighting for single-payer healthcare for all Washington residents. With your support, we continue the movement for high quality, sustainable, affordable, publicly financed, privately delivered health coverage for all Washington residents. We hope you will support our advocacy work.


No donation is too large or too small! Thank you for your continued support of our work. Happy Summer and stay tuned for developments!

-- Marcia Stedman, President, Health Care for All - WA

Four Takeaways for Single-Payer Advocates from the WA State Study on Single-Payer & Universal Health Care Systems

Health care is too expensive for Washingtonians. We have evidence that single payer is less expensive and more equitable. There are challenges to implementation. We must understand them to overcome them.

By Elaine Cox, Co-Lead, HCFA-WA Policy Team and Kelly Powers, HCFA-WA Vice- President

In 2018, HCFA-WA successfully lobbied for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a study of single-payer and universal health coverage systems. We wanted legislators to see evidence that single payer health care is a viable, desirable model and should be brought to the table in developing health reform in Olympia.


The study examined state-based initiatives to implement single-payer health care, gave an overview of national proposals, and analyzed other countries that have implemented a variety of national universal health coverage systems. One thing the report was not tasked with was quantifying the health care crisis for Washington families, especially the underinsured. This is a vital part of the message we want lawmakers to understand, and we will continue to bring it forward.

 

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The Eye Popping Tale of Two Health Care Claims Systems

When economists talk about the burden of administrative overhead in the current US health care system and the potential savings to be recovered from simplifying the system, what are they talking about exactly? These two flow charts make it abundantly clear that the tortuous claims system is a very large part of the cost problem in the US, and that a single-payer system is the cure.

Henry Broeska, an expert on Health Care Administration, concludes that "Health economists analyzing a single payer system don't account for enough of the savings derived from the elimination of our chaotic claims processing methods."

Advocacy Tip: Take a screen shot of each system on your phone to share with people.

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Watch the Medicare for All Hearing in US House Ways and Means Committee

Essentially, the Medicare for All Act of 2019 had its third hearing in ninety days. Though the Chair would have preferred that "Medicare for All" was never uttered during the hearing, everyone seemed to ignore that directive.

Watch powerful testimony from the former administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, Dr. Donald Berwick, and who has recently become a supporter of single-payer, at the 28:27 mark and in his answers to Congress members questions. Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefits Exchange, which oversees ACA plans in our state, says that Washington state is not waiting for Congress and will continue to pursue creative solutions to achieve universal health care in our state. Find her testimony at the 38:20 mark.

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WSIPP Releases the "Single-Payer & Universal Health Systems" Final Report

 

The United States' higher health expenditures do not translate to better health outcomes and quality of care for the entire US population. These countries provide valuable lessons for health care reform in the US. -- Single-Payer and Universal Health Care Systems: Final Report

Our Work Bears Fruit. In 2018, HCFA-WA successfully lobbied for a line item in the budget to direct the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a study of single-payer and universal health coverage systems. 

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Pathway to Universal Health Care Work Group Forming!

The Pathway Work Group is Official. On May 21, Governor Inslee nudged Washington state onto a pathway to universal healthcare. He authorized $500,000 for the Health Care Authority to convene a work group on establishing a universal health care system in Washington state in the state budget HB 1109. 

Thanks to several HCFA-WA amendments included in the budget line item, the work group will consist of a broad range of stakeholders with expertise in the health care financing and delivery systems. It will include patients, labor, insurance, healthcare providers and facilities, patient advocates, and many more interest groups.

First Step to Universal Health Care. Although the work group flew in under the radar, the consequences are significant. Among other directives, the work group must study and make recommendations to the legislature on how to create, implement, maintain, and fund a universal health care system. We will be working to establish the very foundation of a single-payer healthcare system for Washingtonians.

Now our new work begins. We will be supporting the Health Care Authority, who will convene the work group after July. We need to thank the Governor and our legislators and support them in moving the work group in the right direction. We will continue to build more alliances with other advocacy groups and make connections with the government agencies we believe will ultimately implement a single-payer universal health care system in our state.

If you are interested in applying to work group, please apply directly to the Washington State Health Care Authority here.

Celebrating Our 2019 Health Care Wins with Our Allies

Washingtonians! Time to Celebrate! 40+ health care access bills passed the 2019 Washington state legislature. On June 4th, the Healthcare is a Human Right - WA Campaign (HCHR-WA) gathered our allies to share and celebrate our wins, and consider the work ahead. Watch a recording of the meeting here. Read on for a meeting recap.

The 2018 Election is Key. All of these gains were made possible by voters and advocates like you. Washington voters delivered five crucial seats in the Washington Senate with a progressive surge that gave us a sturdy majority in the House and the Senate in Olympia. This incoming class hit the ground running and were a big part of passing this health care legislation. Voters also elected a Democratic majority in the US House. As a result, Congress just held the third hearing this year on the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the US Congress.

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Four Important Things You May Have Missed About the Cascade Care Bill

We believe that a true singlepayer, Universal Health Care system is the best solution, but in the meantime, Cascade Care will provide some immediate relief to some Washingtonians as explained in the following article by DJ Wilson.

Terminology note: While it is often referred to as a "public option," Cascade Care is not a true public option. Rather it strives to make premiums more affordable for people who are with 500% of the federal poverty level, to standardize policies, and rein in the costs of the private insurance offerings on the Washington Health Exchange.

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State of Reform

DJ Wilson | May 17, 2019

For all of the gnashing of teeth by some around this year's "public option" legislation, I think it's possible this legislation will prove itself to be more modest in scope than those opposed might have argued.

In the end, the bill is a modest but important step forward in innovation in health care. It's neither a panacea nor a signal of the end of times.
It's a strategy to use the purchasing power of the state to try to shape a better health care product. It's an effort to push the market to do more in areas where policy makers -- and the broader community -- think that the health care sector isn't doing enough: on pricing and transparency, in particular.

This is something the State of Washington already does through Medicaid, through PEBB, and shortly through SEBB.

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Dr. Paula Lantsberger on why we need health care for all NOW

"No one should sacrifice their life so that their family doesn't become homeless and bankrupt from the cost of medical care." 

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The Role of Health Care Centers in Medicare for All

By Richard Kovar, MD - Community Clinic Physician

Editor's Note: According to the Washington Association of Community Health, community and migrant health centers in Washington serve more than 1,092,000 residents at over 300 clinic sites, offering primary, preventive and supportive health services. These clinics are directed by local consumers and respond to the needs of the community, serving all without regard to economic or insurance status.

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As the US. continues to struggle with healthcare reform, it is vitally important to prioritize the central role of our nations community health centers (otherwise known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and ensure they are not weakened in the process. As the African expression goes, “when elephants dance, the grass gets trampled." The debate regarding Medicare For All brings to the surface the simmering question of whether the FQHCs are a central part of the solution or a 50-year old finger in the dike. I believe it is strongly the former and there must be a win-win going forward.

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