by Marcia Stedman, HCFA-WA President
“Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege, in America.”
We were pleased - and surprised - to hear President Biden say these words in his recent “100 Days” speech to Congress and the American people. His proposal to make the premium subsidies on the ACA marketplaces permanent would help some Americans, but it is only a very small step toward achieving the right to healthcare for all Americans.
Subsidizing Insurance Industry with Premium Subsidies
In effect, these expanded ACA subsidies would continue to transfer taxpayer dollars to the for-profit insurance industry, while doing nothing to lower overall health care costs like insurance deductibles and skyrocketing pharmaceutical drug prices. There is a better way.
If Health Care is a Right, Let’s Make it a Public Good
Senate progressives, led by Bernie Sanders, call for enhancing Medicare benefits by lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55 or 60 and providing dental, vision and hearing care to those already on Medicare. This plan would be a step toward the transformative change in healthcare delivery that is so sorely needed now.
E2SSB 5399 – Washington state is moving ahead on universal health care
This year the Washington State Legislature passed E2SSB 5399, the bill creating the Universal Health Care Commission. Soon the Commission will begin to design a plan guaranteeing the right to health care for all our state residents. But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to health care, those details have a lot to do with the financing mechanism. Fact: the robust funding needed for an effective state-based publicly funded universal health care plan depends on Federal cooperation and support.
Support for the State Based Universal Health Care Act (HR 5010)
That’s why HCFA-WA is excited about California Rep. Ro Khanna’s State Based Universal Health Care (SBUHC) Act. Slated to be re-introduced in Congress this June, it will be identical to last Session’s bill, but with a new number. Waivers available now under the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1332 allow states that have created a universal public plan to apply for access to Federal funding and support for their plan. Rep. Khanna’s SBUHC Act builds on the ACA by adding a new 1335 waiver option for those states. What’s the difference?
What is the difference
SBUHC Act 1335 Waiver
ACA 1332 Waiver
|Allows states to integrate Medicare funds into their state plan||YES||NO|
|Grants access to ERISA Waiver to prevent self-insured employers from opting out of state plan||YES||NO|
|Allows multi-state regional plans||YES||NO|
|Requires state plans to cover 95% of residents within 5 years||YES||NO|
|Waiver Application Decisions||Independent Assessment Panel appointed by HHS Secretary to review and recommend||Leaves waiver decisions with the HHS Secretary alone|
Our Meeting with Representative del Bene
Recently, I facilitated a constituent meeting with staff members of my First District Congresswoman Suzan del Bene. Organized by David Loud and Nathan Rodke of Health Care is a Human Right-Washington, six of us
shared our personal healthcare experiences and our support for publicly funded universal healthcare, and asked that Rep. del Bene sign on as an original co-sponsor of the SBUHC Act. Like Pres. Biden, Rep. del Bene’s preferred solution to our health care crisis is to expand the ACA subsidies, and we did not secure her support for the SBUHC Act at this time. But, the meeting was cordial and a good beginning to a continuing dialogue, hopefully with the Congresswoman herself next time.
Currently, WA co-sponsors include Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-7) and Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9).