UPDATE - The Pathway Bill Passed Out of Appropriations and is in Rules
The bill is unlikely to pass the House at this point, so 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. Please go here for our latest Action Alert.
The Pathway to Universal Health Care bill would set the table for universal health care while we await Congressional passage of the State-Based Universal Health Care Act, hopefully as soon as 2021. Here's the lowdown on the bill:
• SSB 5822, is prime sponsored by Senator Emily Randall (26th LD)
• HB 1877, the companion bill, is prime sponsored by Representative Nicole Macri (43rd LD)
• It would set up a Work Group within the Health Care Authority to make recommendations for publicly funded, privately delivered health care for all Washington state residents.
• It would, in the meantime, evaluate efforts to improve coverage and access while ensuring a just transition and exploring multi-state collaboration.
We are lobbying for two amendments: 1) to include the phrase "publicly administered," and 2) to require that the Work Group include health care advocates.
Summary of the Pathway to Universal Health Care Bill
This bill starts by declaring that health care is a human right. The intent is to be ready for a future that may be only a couple of years away that will facilitate implementation of a true universal, publicly financed, health coverage system for Washington State.
The bill specifically mentions the bill in Congress (in 2018) HR 6097 State-Based Universal Health Care Act, soon to be sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, that would make it much easier for states to apply for waivers under the ACA's Section 1332 and be able to get the federal funds available under the ACA.
The bill sets up a Work Group of most current stakeholders to study the issue and come up with recommendations to the legislature by 11/15/20. The bill would expire on 1/1/21.
Several specific criteria are included in the charge to the Work Group: Options to increase coverage and access; transparency to best manage and lower costs; innovations to promote quality; options for a just transition; possible collaboration with neighbor states; and options for revenue and financing (including contracting for an actuarial analysis if needed).
To see the Second Substitute Senate Bill 5822 in its entirety and to submit a comment to your legislators, go here.
Companion Bill HB 1877 is here.
Watch the debate on the Senate floor. There were many compelling speeches by Senators in favor of the bill. And you won't want to miss the Venezuela argument!
To watch Rep. Macri's 12-minute speech about the bill go here.
Updated March 20, 2019