February 2020 UHC Work Group - Developing the Criteria for Assessing Universal Health Care Models

Keep up the good work providing public comments! Thanks to all who shared their thoughts with the Universal Health Care Work Group. You doubled the number of comments for the December meeting. Listen to the February meeting and comment here. Let’s increase it again!

Please add the next UHC Work Group Meeting to your calendar. It will be April 22nd, 1-5 pm, in Seattle, location TBD. The Work Group needs to hear about your struggles to afford health insurance and health care in Washington state. Let’s be sure they know that Washingtonians are very interested in the Work Group and want it to make recommendations that could substantially improve our health care. When we get closer, go the Work Group website for the agenda, meeting materials, and meeting location detail.

OK, now on to the recap of the February Meeting attended by HCFA-WA and Work Group members Denny Dellwo, Kelly Powers, Ronnie Shure, and Lynnette Vehrs.  

Do you know how there are transitional scenes or episodes in a play or tv series? They are necessary to move along the plot but aren’t the most dramatic moments. Well, this third meeting was very much in that vein. We had work to do.

Our primary task was to develop the assessment criteria we will use to compare health care models we are considering for further study. Prior to the meeting, we were provided with a detailed list of potential assessment criteria to respond to.

I used the Institute of Medicine’s U-CASH model to analyze the suggested criteria. I was pleased to see that the proposed criteria include elements for evaluating the models using Universal, Continuous, Affordable, Sustainable, and High-Quality principles. In our breakout groups, we brought up more criteria, including culturally-relevant care, rural concerns, discouraging over-medicalization of care, and good governance attributes.

The break out groups were followed by two presentations on US and International Health Care Systems. The first presented a range of initiatives to get to universal health care and patches to the current system to provide more coverage or help with affordability in the US. Including a high-level assessment of each program. We were enthused to see our  Washington Health Security Trust (WHST, HB 1104) bill included, but we had to clarify that the WHST is a unified health care plan, not multi healthcare plans, and that it doesn’t specify premiums. The second was a presentation on health care systems around the world. Our work group experts also weighed in on that presentation, and we’re expecting updates on both those presentations before the next meeting.

The meeting concluded with public comments from Marcia Stedman, HCFA-WA President, and David Loud, Health Care is a Human Right-WA Co-Chair. They noted with appreciation the high-level view of the Work Group members as they discussed what "universal health care" meant to them, urged them to continue aiming high, and to know that what we do in Washington state strengthens the resolve of the work at the federal level (and vice versa).

We were also provided some background reading for the meeting. Atul Gawande’s New Yorker essay from the time of the fight for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2008 called Getting from Here to There still stands up. He argues that we need to build on the institutions we already have.  In fact, Rep. Jayapal’s HR 1384 Medicare for All Act of 2019, and Sanders' S. 1129 in the Senate, do just that.

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