If we can send humans up into space, we can surely create guaranteed, secure healthcare here on earth!
Photo Credit: NASA
(Image description: a view of earth from space with the international space station in foreground)
Hello to all universal health-nauts, (like astronauts, but for healthcare!) and happy November! The rainiest month in Washington is a great month because remove if too late [HCFA-WA has its annual meeting and we have a great keynote speaker, Dr. Stephen Kemble who will show us how to follow the money in health financing to get a clearer picture why the private health insurance market doesn’t work. It’s also exciting this year because] the appointees to the Universal Health Care Commission have been announced and we’re so excited to see that of the Governor’s 6 appointees, 5 were recommended to him by HCFA-WA!
|“When you get for-profit entities coming in as middle-men, they make it sound like what they’re going to do is give better care, and that’s how they’re going to save money. What they really do is cherry pick, lemon drop, and game documentation to beat risk adjustment.” -Dr. Stephen Kemble, keynote speaker at our 2021 Annual Program and Membership Meeting
Our annual meeting is nearly here! See what’s in store.
The new Universal Health Care Commission has 5 appointees recommended by HCFA-WA!
Marcia Stedman speaks to State of Reform
October Speakers’ Series Recap ICYMI
News and Commentary
Come for the Keynote, Stay for the Annual Meeting
Health Care for All-WA is proud to present Dr. Stephen Kemble as the keynote speaker at our annual meeting. Dr. Kemble is a past president of both the Hawaii Psychiatric Medical Association and the Hawaii Medical Association, and has a longstanding interest in health care reform. He has been appointed to the Hawaii Health Authority, charged with overall health planning for the State of Hawaii and with designing a universal health care system covering everyone in the State. A health care financing expert, his presentations are always clear and engaging.
We’ll recap our 2021 successes, look ahead at our Strategic Plan for 2022, and offer opportunities to support our ongoing work. We will also be introducing a new Health Equity Team to learn more about the diverse communities who live in Washington. The brief business meeting will include votes on the proposed 2022 Budget and the election of Directors and Officers for the coming year.
Big win for HCFA-WA! Universal Health Care Commission Includes Five of our Recommended Candidates!
The Universal Health Care Commission (UHCC) was created with Senate Bill 5399, passed during the 2021 legislative session. This bill was our top legislative priority for the session, as the Commission will be in a position to develop the detailed architecture for a state-based universal health coverage (SBUHC) program with a unified financing system. HCFA-WA developed this architecture, in the form of the Washington Health Security Trust and we hope to bring it to the UHCC for use in its work.
To be financially viable for the state, this system depends on federal financial support. The Commission is directed to apply for this support via waivers within 60 days of their availability. Such waivers are available now under Section 1332 of the ACA. However, Congress's State Based Universal Heath Care Act of 2021 - HR 3775 - would streamline the waiver application process and allow regional collaboration on healthcare plans.
For the Commission to realize this goal, it is crucial that its members be in full support, specifically of a unified financing system for SBUHC. We are encouraged that each of the Governor’s 6 appointees supports a unified financing system, and very pleased that 5 of them were among the candidates we recommended for his consideration.
Vicki Lowe* (Chair), Executive Director, American Indian Health Commission for Washington state.
Nicole Gomez, Co-founder and Board Secretary, Alliance for a Healthy Washington.
Bidisha Mandal, Professor, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University
Mohamed Shidane*, Deputy Director, Somali Health Board
Stella Vasquez, Corporate Programs Operations Officer Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic
Estell Williams, MD School of Medicine Executive Director, University of Washington
There are 4 legislative appointees, required in the law to represent a balance of both parties. All the legislative appointees have served or chaired on their respective Health Care committees and are familiar with the opportunities and challenges of establishing SBUHC in Washington.
Senator Emily Randall* (LD 26)and Representative Marcus Ricelli (LD 3) voted for SB 5399. Senator Ann Rivers (LD18) voted in favor of several of our priority health bills this past session, including SB 5377, Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market, and SB 5068, extending the period of post-partum maternal health coverage on Medicaid. Senator Rivers has supported access to medical and dental services in rural and underserved areas, and gaining better control of health care costs.
Representative Joe Schmick* (LD 9) voted yea on SB 5068 and on 5052, the creation of health equity zones.
*these members, as well as several state health agency appointees also served on the Universal Health Care Work Group.
The Commission also includes agency leaders from the Employees and Retirees Benefits Division, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the Health Benefit Exchange, the Office of Equity and the Dept. of Health. You can see the full roster of the UHCC here.
The Commission was required to hold its first meeting 90 days from the effective date of July 25, 2021. That date was October 23, 2021. Now that the membership roster is completed, we hope to see a first meeting scheduled soon! Meetings are open to the public and will be announced on the website and in email notifications.
The UHCC is required to submit a baseline report to the legislature by November 1, 2022.
Stay up to date on the UHCC with this link, where you can subscribe to email updates: Universal Health Care Commission | Washington State Health Care Authority
We’re in the Health Press!
HCFA-WA’s President, Marcia Stedman was interviewed by State of Reform’s Aaron Kunkler for an article about what happens to Medicaid enrollees made eligible with the COVID Emergency Declaration, once the declaration ends. Ms. Stedman pointed to the Universal Health Care Commission as the way to develop a system where massive disenrollments would not be a concern. Check out the article!
October Speakers’ Series Recap
The Speakers’ Series is going strong! On October 13th we welcomed Katherine Seibel, MSSW, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Washington. She presented “How Washington state can fix our Mental Health Care CRISIS”. She reviewed the victories for behavioral health care in the 2021 legislative session and addressed the priorities for next year. To watch the Zoom meeting video click/tap here.
Seibel spoke of the devastating effects of the COVID epidemic on mental health in Washington and across the country. Over 120,000 adults in Washington could not access needed behavioral health care because of cost. Finding a provider in rural areas, or a BIPOC provider, is another challenge.
Several bills addressing mental health last session show behavioral health is being recognized as a crisis and there is a need for change on a number of fronts. There were bills creating an Office of Behavioral Health Advocacy to help empower consumers, a 988 phone number (as an alternative to 911) for behavioral health crises and suicide prevention, and the CRIS- Crisis Response Improvement Strategy Committee, which Ms. Seibel has been appointed to. See the Legislative Update section below for more details on this last bill and how you can get involved with the CRIS committee. Several bills were passed dealing with police accountability. These bills are intended in part to protect people in crisis from trauma and harm during encounters with police.
Looking to 2022, NAMI-Washington’s priorities include access to care, growing the workforce, and continuing to strengthen the crisis response system.
Build Back Better
There are many moving parts to this massive legislation, including healthcare. Some highlights on some encouraging developments that will have direct impacts on Washingtonians:
In a somewhat whiplash turn of events, moderate Senate Democrats (including Washington’s Kim Schrier, CD8) helped resuscitate Medicare being allowed to negotiate some prescription drug prices, in the Build Back Better bill. Medicare negotiation of drug prices is widely supported by voters of both parties.
In the House, we are excited to see a cost-sharing cap of $35 monthly for insulin added to the bill. There is an extension to 2025 of American Rescue Plan Act subsidies on the health insurance exchanges. There is also a proposal to fund $15 million for states to get grants for administration and planning for 1332 state innovation waivers. This may be valuable to the UHCC in its work.
The Senate version of the Build Back Better Act would set a hard cap on how much seniors who enrolled in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit pay for prescription drugs: $2,000 out of pocket annually. It would also require private Part D plans to cover more of the cost of expensive drugs, which experts say may motivate those plans to try to extract lower prices from drugmakers on medications not included in the new government-led negotiations.
And the disappointing...
The negotiated prices would only apply to 10 drugs, beginning in 2025, and then gradually increasing to 20 in subsequent years. The original plan had 25 drugs being negotiated immediately and that number would have eventually increased to 50.
Medicare would pay no more than 75 percent of what commercial US insurers pay on average for drugs that have been on the market between 9 and 12 years, with the maximum decreasing the longer the drug has been available. This is disappointing because the original plan set the maximum price at 120% of what other wealthy nations pay. There is a concern that if prices are tied to commercial plan prices rather than other nations’, drug companies could cost-shift higher prices onto the commercial plans, thus increasing the prices for both commercial and Medicare enrollees. The change is expected to reduce the savings on drug prices that would have enabled funding of vision, dental and hearing benefits for Medicare recipients.
Washington (988) Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee formed
As was mentioned in the October Speakers’ Series Recap above, The Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1477, directing the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center to convene the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee.
The Steering Committee will develop recommendations to the legislature for an integrated behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system. Katherine Seibel, our featured speaker in HCFA-WA’s monthly Speaker’s Series, is on this committee.
She advised that there are opportunities for public comment, and encouraged any who want to advocate get involved. See meeting schedules and ways to get involved here.
Make relief for health coverage premiums permanent- Seattle Times
Senator David Frockt and Representative Eileen Cody’s op-ed in the Seattle Times called on Congress to make the American Relief Package Act health premium assistants permanent, as it has made health care dramatically more affordable for many on the health exchange in Washington.
Health Equity- Lancet Public Health
What are the greatest health challenges facing people who are incarcerated? We need to ask them
Article advocating for community-engagement to identify research and health needs’ priorities for incarcerated people, as well as including them in research trials and data.
Payment schemes for private insurance increase healthcare costs- Health Affairs
Medicare Advantage, Direct Contracting, And The Medicare ‘Money Machine,’ Part 1: The Risk-Score Game Privatizing Medicare and the Medicare Gold Rush: Perverse incentives, overpayments, and gaming the risk scoring, profits over patients always.
St. Jude is the largest and most highly regarded health care charity in the country. While it provides financial aid to families who incur large costs to travel and stay with their children while getting treatment for cancer, Pro Publica reports that St. Judes has billions of unspent fundraising dollars that could be spent to help families avoid exhausting their savings and retirement accounts, borrowing from family and friends or asking other charities for aid. St. Jude Hoards Billions While Many of Its Families Drain Their Savings
HCFA-WA Annual Meeting, via Zoom
Or One tap mobile :
Webinar ID: 836 6038 4470
International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcszAljMDv
|Tue, Nov 16
WA State Crisis Response Improvement Strategy Committee
Opportunity for public comment. The Steering Committee will develop recommendations for an integrated behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system that will be shared with the legislature. The CRIS Committee will advise the Steering Committee with their recommendations.
Submit public comments during meeting, or email here: [email protected]hca.wa.gov.
|Fri, Nov 19
Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) webinar on Reparations with Ron Daniels
5 PM To REGISTER, click here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_d-VoFjKTTWiqHFTTf1dwGQ
|now until Mon, Nov 22
Action Opportunity for Community Health Advocates
Washington state’s Health Equity Zones Community Advisory Council is now accepting applications and nominations for community representatives.
For information on the Health Equity Zones initiative and to submit or nominate someone to the Health Equity Zones Community Advisory Council, visit: Health Equity Zones.
|Sat, Dec 4
League of Women Voters Legislative Action Workshop
9:30am -3:30pmInterested in what’s happening at the legislature this year? Attend the League’s Action Workshop for both a review of the 2021 session and highlights about the upcoming 2022 legislative session. The workshop, sponsored by the LWVWA Lobby Team, will be virtual, Saturday, Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Session 1 includes an overview of health care legislation. You can register on the LWVWA website.
Wed, Dec 15
Health Care is a Human Right -WA General Meeting
Adoption of 2022 Policy Priorities, State and Federal
Mon, Jan 10
First Day of Session, Washington State Legislature, Olympia.
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The perfect gift for every universal health care supporter, any time of year: Everybody In, and Nobody Out t-shirts, winter scarves, and umbrellas.
★ Editor: Elaine Cox & Consuelo Echeverria ★ Graphics & Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones ★
★ Health News: Rich Lague & Cris Currie ★
★ Spokane & Video: DW Clark ★ President: Marcia Stedman ★