Report on the December Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting

Whack-a-mole is No Longer Working to Keep Healthcare Affordable
If it is Not Affordable, it is not Accessible

The Work Group needs to hear from us! Watch here and Comment here. Public comments accepted until 5 pm, Monday, December 30. We encourage you to share your story about unaffordable health care.

Thank you to all who traveled to Olympia to testify!

Thank you to the HCFA-WA members serving on the Work Group: Dennis Dellwo, Pete McGough, Kelly Powers, Ronnie Shur, Lynette Vehrs, and Sherry Weinberg


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We're Ready for 2020! Annual Meeting Re-Cap

A packed room of supporters heard our panelists Ronnie Shure, HCFA-WA Vice President, Ken Fabert, MD, Health Care is a Human Right - Washington's Co-Chair David Loud, Aaron Katz from the UW School of Public Health and Raleigh Watts, Executive Director of Country Doctor Community Health Clinics. Nancy Amidei, Retired UW School of Social Work Faculty and tireless policy advocate, was the moderator for the panel. Items discussed included:

★ Results of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) report

★ Information on Federal legislation: HR 5010 State-Based Universal Health Care Act

★ Lessons learned from other countries' health systems

★ The importance of community-based health care clinics

State Representative Nicole Macri (D-43rd District) spoke about the successes of 2019, HCFA-WA's effectiveness getting wording in last years' legislation about universal healthcare coverage and agenda items for the short 2020 legislative session.

HCFA-WA was instrumental in creating and passing the legislation (SB 5822) that established the Universal Health Care Work Group, and worked to ensure funding for an econometric study was included. There are five HCFA-WA members on the Work Group: Denny Dellwo, Kelly Powers, Ronnie Shure, Lynnette Vehrs, and Sherry Weinberg.

HCFA-WA appreciates your support and depends on your donation to continue the fight to make healthcare and prescription drugs accessible and affordable for all. I hope you can help us to continue the progress we have already made!

Please include HCFA-WA in your annual giving. A monthly recurring donation is a high-impact way to sustain our work. ~ Marcia Stedman, President

Rep. Khanna Introduces HR 5010 "The State-Based Universal Health Care Act of 2019"

Jump to Press Release

HR 5010 "The State-Based Universal Health Care Act (SBUHC) of 2019  is a landmark step toward empowering states to expand health coverage to every resident. Recognizing the unique position of American states to lead the push for universal health care, Rep. Ro Khanna's bill provides states with historic access to federal funding streams and regulatory flexibility necessary to implement and support affordable, universal health care plans."

THANK YOU to all HCFA-WA supporters who wrote Rep. Khanna earlier this summer, encouraging him to introduce the bill this fall. Together, Health Care for All - WA, One Payer States, and Health Care is a Human Right - WA have helped shepherd HR 5010 for consideration by the 116th Congress.

We are delighted that it has 15 original co-sponsors, including Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith from Washington state, as well as many Progressive leaders: Rep. Jayapal (WA-07), Rep. Blumenauer (OR-03), Rep. Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. DeFazio (OR-4), Rep. Garcia (IL-04), Rep. Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Lee (CA-13), Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Omar (MN-05), Rep. Pocan (WI-02), Rep. Pressley (MA-07) Rep. Raskin (MD-08), Rep. Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), Rep. Watson Coleman (NJ-12)

Our task now is to increase the support for the bill, starting in our state. Every chance we get, we need to be asking Rep. Suzan DelBene (CD-1), Denny Heck (CD-10), Derek Kilmer (CD-6), Rick Larsen (CD-2), and Kim Schrier (CD-8) to sign on to the bill and to support it.

Below is the Press Release from Rep. Ro Khanna's office announcing the introduction of the bill including remarks from HCFA-WA President Marcia Stedman and Vice-President Kelly Powers:

"Health Care for All-Washington salutes Rep. Khanna and his staff for their work on this important legislation that will ensure Washington state can achieve the innovative healthcare system that a solid majority of our state's residents need, want and deserve. Thank you!" Marcia Stedman, Health Care for All-Washington and Health Care is a Human Right-Washington.

"Rep. Khanna's State-Based Universal Care Act of 2019 is vital to getting state legislators to embrace state-based single-payer health care plans. Legislators need to be reassured that the federal waiver process will be streamlined and that federal health care funds will be available for state-based plans," said Kelly Powers, Health Care for All -- Washington.

As David Loud, Co-Lead of Health Care is a Human Right-WA explains, "Rep. Khanna's State-Based Universal Health Care Act of 2019 is an important asset to the movement for a universal national health plan and Medicare for All. There is strong movement in a number of states to achieve universal and affordable health care at the state level. As we work towards Medicare for All, the SBUHC Act will enable some states to transition to universal, single-payer systems that can serve as models for national Medicare for All. This will build our national movement and will help us win concrete victories along the way."

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Trump's Ghoulish Attacks on Medicare and Medicare for All

Pro-Corporation Rather Than Pro-Patient 
Republished from our friends at Health Care is a Human Right-WA plus a Section-by-Section Review

Trump’s most recent Executive Order on Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors is the worst kind of evil: the evil you don’t see coming. Disguised as an effort to “save Medicare,” it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a giveaway to corporate insurers who sell Medicare Advantage plans. Now, these corporate insurers have the green light to cherry-pick the healthiest of seniors and others relying on Medicare, and to use all of their tricks to avoid paying the bill — narrow networks, no out-of-state coverage, high deductibles, etc.

It is no surprise that Trump would go after Medicare. It is something he campaigned on, after all. But don’t be fooled by the spin! It is actually an attempt to weaken Medicare by allowing Big Business to compete with Medicare and charge more, and make a big profit while they’re at it — and it is subsidized by the majority of beneficiaries who are in traditional Medicare.

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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.

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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