July 2022 e.Bulletin

In_This_Issue_Bar__(4).pngOur July bulletin starts with a summary of the July’s Universal Health Care Commission meeting with links to meeting materials. As ballots drop HCFA-WA has the results of our candidate survey which identifies which candidates are not only supporters of universal health care but will be willing to sponsor legislation. Read below to see if the candidates running in your legislative district are Health Care Champions. 

Under News and Commentary we have added links to two boards that grew out of HCFA-WA’s advocacy. The Health Cost Transparency Board allows us to understand the true cost of providing health care in Washington state. The Total Cost of Insulin Work Group addresses barriers to access of this life saving drug.


Universal Health Care Commission Dips Toes into Discussing Near Term Steps to UHC at July Meeting 

This month’s UHCC recap appears courtesy of author Kelly Powers, Co-chair of the Policy Committee that focuses on the UHCC as an important part of the work by our healthcare allies in Health Care is a Human Right WA coalition. 

With each Commission meeting we are seeing more engagement from Commission members. For the first time, the meeting began to address the dual goals of 1) creating a blueprint for a universal health care system for WA state and 2) recommending immediate results for Washingtonians on the way to a unified financing system. 

Here is a round up of the Commission members discussions:

Financial Technical Advisory Committee. 

The Commissioner Members pondered the proposal for a Financial Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) and will take it up again at the August meeting. Commission member Bidisha Mandal, Ph.D. (WSU) suggested the FTAC should begin sooner rather than later. Dr. Karen Johnson (Office of Equity) urged the FTAC to start with the vision – the end goal – and then determine the steps that could be taken to build to that goal. Kristin Peterson (DOH) wants the workforce considered from the start. We agree! It is hard to know where the steps are heading without a vision. Nicole Gomez (Healthy WA Alliance) thought the FTAC’s duties are extensive, and she proposed subcommittees within FTAC.

One overarching question:  Who will drive the overall vision of the UHC system – the Commission or the FTAC?

Short-term Steps. The HMA Consultants presented a couple of possible short-term possibilities which inspired a discussion among the Commission members. Commission members put forward ideas such as 1) aligning School Employees Benefit Board, Public Employees Benefit Board, Apple Health, and Health Benefit Exchange plans and 2) making the plans available to all levels of government (city/town/county). They also brought up electronic medical records, including one approach that might be for the Commission to choose a suitable demonstration project that will help them build the knowledge and experience to work towards a unified financing system while building the infrastructure needed.

Other Issues. The Commission members raised concerns about cost containment, including the work being done by the HCCTB, but no mention of one the biggest ways to mitigate high administration costs – adopting a unified financing system that removes the overhead of for-profit middle-men. 

Rep. Riccelli brought up addressing WA’s underinsured which makes up a sizable and growing number of the population – especially with the extended COVID Public Health Emergency declaration ending October 13, 2022. 

Having worked in a health care system without cost sharing, Chair Vicki Lowe (WA’s American Indian Health Commission) expressed her steadfast support for no cost sharing.

Rep. Schmick brought up political objections to immigrant health care. We hope the Commission considers that other countries have figured out it is not only more humane, but also cheaper to provide treatment than to create a gate-keeping bureaucracy that delays care until it is urgent and very expensive.

Mohamed Shidane (Somali Health Board) urged the Commission to create a patient-centered system that addresses improving health outcomes. This is really important because now any Commission member can drive us back to the patient-centered focus, and we can advocate for patient input at each step of the process.

At the next UHC Commission meeting on August 16th, the Commission will continue discussing the Finance Technical Advisory Committee and take up the issue of narrowing the Medicaid reimbursement rate for Washingtonians.

Spotlight_Bar.png2022 Primary Candidates Questionnaire
By Ron Lovell 

HCFA-WA sent our 2022 Questionnaire to candidates registered for all state and federal elected positions to complete an online survey that would indicate their support for the priorities of Health Care For All-WA.  Our request included our intention to publish the survey results in time for the August 2, 2022, primary.

The Questionnaire

This year's Questionnaire had three questions with possible answers Yes, No, or Maybe. Candidates who answered Maybe had the option to comment with further explanation or clarification.

Question 1: Do you support legislation for equitable, high-quality, sustainable, affordable, publicly funded, publicly and privately delivered healthcare for all Washington residents? 

Question 2: Would you publicly pledge to help support a publicly funded Universal Health Care system in Washington State? 

Question 3: Will you help sponsor or co-sponsor universal healthcare legislation which focuses on mergers, lower the cost of treatments, prioritize public wellness, and increase access for all residents in Washington State?

As of the close of business on Friday, July 15, we had received 85 responses. Candidates who answered Yes to all three questions are highlighted in yellow and our Health Care Champions. At the bottom of the sheet are tabs for Legislative, Federal, and Congressional races; click to navigate. Only candidates who responded appear on these spreadsheets.  If you have any issues viewing, reply to this email with details!

View results here! 

Find your Legislative and Congressional Districts here. New district boundaries are in effect for elections taking place in August and November 2022. To view your new 2022 legislative and congressional districts please see the new 2022 Legislative and Congressional maps.HC_News_Bar_(2).png

U.S. announces $1.2 bln healthcare crackdown tied to telehealth, cardiovascular tests
The U.S. Justice Department unveiled a $1.2 billion healthcare fraud crackdown on Wednesday, revealing criminal charges against 36 defendants for alleged fraudulent billing schemes tied to telemedicine, genetic and cardiovascular testing, and equipment. The criminal charges target clinical laboratory owners, marketers, medical professionals and telemedicine executives. Prosecutors said the schemes intended to bill Medicare out of $1.2 billion, though the actual losses are closer to $440 million.

100 Million People in America Are Saddled With Health Care Debt
Elizabeth Woodruff drained her retirement account and took on three jobs after she and her husband were sued for nearly $10,000 by the New York hospital where his infected leg was amputated.

Ariane Buck, a young father in Arizona who sells health insurance, couldn’t make an appointment with his doctor for a dangerous intestinal infection because the office said he had outstanding bills.

Allyson Ward and her husband loaded up credit cards, borrowed from relatives, and delayed repaying student loans after the premature birth of their twins left them with $80,000 in debt. Ward, a nurse practitioner, took on extra nursing shifts, working days and nights. “I wanted to be a mom,” she said. “But we had to have the money.”

The three are among more than 100 million people in America ― including 41% of adults ― beset by a health care system that is systematically pushing patients into debt on a mass scale, an investigation by KHN and NPR shows.

California’s new $100 million plan to make insulin cheaper: What you need to know
California will begin making its own low-cost insulin in an effort to make the essential diabetes treatment more affordable, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday.

Total Cost of Insulin Work Group 
HCFA-WA was instrumental in setting up this work group. Take a look at their meeting materials from their first meeting on July 8th. You can add your voice by signing up for the public comment period at their next meeting in late August. The price and utilization of insulin has steadily increased over time, making it one of the costliest prescription drugs in the state. The cost for health plans in the state has increased eighty-seven percent since 2014. Per member out-of-pocket costs have increased an average of eighteen percent over the same period. The Washington State legislature recognized this and passed HB 1728, which established a work group tasked with devising purchasing strategies to reduce the cost and total expenditures of insulin in the state.

Health Care Cost Transparency Board
The Health Care Cost Transparency Board (House Bill 2457) was signed into law in 2020, with the purpose of reducing health care cost growth and increasing price transparency. HCFA WA testified in support of this board in 2020 because we need to know what the total costs of care are in order to properly determine how much funding will be needed to cover health care. Take a look at their meeting materials from their most recent meeting on July 20th. You can add your voice by signing up for the public comment period at their next meeting on August 17th. 

Two Great Resources on ACO REACH7-minute video with Congresswoman Jayapal: Why we need to and stop ACO Reach and the privatization of Medicare. Watch HERE
PSARA's June 29 Webinar with national PNHP's Dr. Ed Weisbart: ACO REACH and the Privatization Threat to Traditional Medicare. 40-minutes plus Q&A. Watch Here

Upcoming_Events_Bar_(2).png

Fri, July 29

 

Rally to tell Wall Street: Hands Off Our Medicare!
Biden Administration: Terminate ACO REACH!

11:00 AM 

HHS Regional Office, Columbia Center, 701 5th Ave, Seattle

 

Sat, July 30

 

March for Healthcare Justice: Celebrating 57 Years of Medicare
12:00 pm

4351 S Othello St, Seattle 98118. Organized by Whole Washington, Seattle Green Party & others.

Wed, Aug 10

 

2nd Wednesday Speaker Series Zoom
READY-SET-GO: The Health Care Cost Transparency Board
7:00 p.m.

We welcome AnnaLisa Gellermann, JD, the Health Care Cost Transparency Board Manager with Washington State Health Care Authority to discuss their “Ready-Set-Go” mandate. 

Register here 
Meeting ID: 812 9463 4444

Tues, Aug 16

 

Universal Health Care Commission
2:00 p.m.

Wed, Aug 17

 

Health Care Cost Transparency Board
2:00 p.m.

Wed, Aug 17

 

PNHPWA meeting
7:00 p.m.

Fri, Aug 19

 

One Payer States 3rd Friday Meeting
9:00 a.m.

Sat, Aug 27

 

National Intergenerational Social Justice Summit
9:00 a.m.

TBA

 

Total Cost of Insulin Work Group


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