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.


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.


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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Victory! The Pathway to Universal Health Care Work Group Funded


> Note: To see the amendments HCFA-WA fought for and won, scroll down.

Thanks to your full court press last week, the Pathway to Universal Health Group Work Group is becoming a reality. There is now funding for the work group in the state budget that is on the Governor's desk to sign. Work continues with the Governor's office to issue an additional Executive Order for the work group. 

The path to the Pathway was dramatic and full of twists and turns, but with perseverance, together we made it happen.

We also achieved some other very important wins that will serve us well moving forward:

★ We formed a tight-knit coalition with our allies. Working together we were able to resurrect the Pathway bill in the nick of time at the Universal Health Care Forum in January.

★ We presented crucial amendments to SB 5822 (see below) that were incorporated into the bill and remain in the budget proviso.

★ We forged strong relationships with legislators and legislative staff. We even garnered bi-partisan support for the bill in the House.

★ We testified several times and helped form compelling panels at the hearings.

★ We worked the legislative process.  We persevered when the Pathway bill SB 5822 stalled in House Rules, the final hurdle for passage.

★ We were able to call on our supporters to let their voices be heard at each stage of the bill's advancement.

All of this will be fruitful moving forward as we continue to build the coalition with our supporters and allies and work to achieve true universal health care for Washingtonians.

Thanks to you, the momentum for single-payer is growing!

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Action Alert ★ We're So Close! Your Pressure is Needed Now

We are in the last couple of minutes of a tied championship game -- anything could happen. We cannot let up. We're so close!

We are pursuing all available avenues for making the elements of the Pathway to Universal Health Care bill, SB 5822, a reality in whatever form it takes. The legislators are still duking it out, so we need to continue to pressure the House and now the Executive branch as well. Our best option now is a budget proviso and/or an Executive Order from the Governor.

Update: It would be super helpful for small business owners, doctors, nurses, pharmacists to email today! Especially our friends in Eastern Washington.

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Action Alert: The Pathway Bill is a Floor Vote Away from the Governor's Desk!


If you're following the journey of SB 5822: A Pathway to Universal Healthcare, you know it's making history: it is the first bill in Washington state history to declare healthcare a human right. It has sailed through the Senate, out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee and the Appropriations Committee. That's history-making by itself - but this bill also has bi-partisan support!

Now, SB 5822 sits in the House Rules Committee, where it is just one floor vote away from landing on the Governor’s desk.

This is why this action - five minutes, tops - is so important.


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Latest Press on the Pathway Bill

To get you fired up about what's happening in Olympia, we are sharing the latest press on the Pathway bill. From now until April 28th "will define our state’s health care destiny for a generation to come, and we can’t afford to miss this opportunity to move forward."

What Can You Do Now? See this post on our House Rules Committee Action Alert: Pathway Bill is a Floor Vote Away from the Governor's Desk.

"The Pathway to Universal Health Care Bill Is Passing with Bipartisan Support, The Stranger | April 10, 2019
by Rich Smith

Over the last few days a bill that will put Washington state on the pathway to implementing a universal health care system passed out of two committees ~with bipartisan support~ and is now sitting in the Rules committee, just waiting to be pulled to the floor by any ol' House Speaker named Frank Chopp.

The bill, SB 5822, would convene a workgroup to study and recommend to the Legislature various forms of state-based single-payer health care. It would also look at forming a regional single-payer system encompassing the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. If passed in its current form, the bill would also codify into state law the notion that health care is a human right. Which is cool.

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The Pathway Bill, SB 5822, Passes Out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee!

Next Stop: Appropriations

Thanks to your sustained efforts, we are thrilled to announce that SB 5822, the Pathway to Universal Health Care bill, passed out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee -- with our amendments -- by a vote of 10 in favor, and 3 opposed. Watch the powerful testimony, including testimony from HCFA-WA president Marcia Stedman (SB 5822 testimony starts at 1:28:00; Marcia's testimony begins 1:32:55). 

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Healthcare Debt is a Pot of Gold for Debt Collectors. Our Supporter Has a Suggestion

What happens when patients can't pay their health care bills? Eventually, patients are sent to debt collection and are given two choices: pay up, or go into debt. This Seattle Times article reports that Medical Debt Collection is so lucrative that there is little incentive anymore to work out payment plans.

How big a business? Last year, Americans borrowed $88 Billion to pay for health care expenses, The New York Times reports.

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