Thanks to your full court press last week, the Pathway to Universal Health Group Work Group is becoming a reality. There is now funding for the work group in the state budget that is on the Governor's desk to sign. Work continues with the Governor's office to issue an additional Executive Order for the work group.
The path to the Pathway was dramatic and full of twists and turns, but with perseverance, together we made it happen.
We also achieved some other very important wins that will serve us well moving forward:
★ We formed a tight-knit coalition with our allies. Working together we were able to resurrect the Pathway bill in the nick of time at the Universal Health Care Forum in January.
★ We presented crucial amendments to SB 5822 that were incorporated into the bill and remain in the budget proviso.
★ We forged strong relationships with legislators and legislative staff. We even garnered bi-partisan support for the bill in the House.
★ We testified several times and helped form compelling panels at the hearings.
★ We worked the legislative process. We persevered when the Pathway bill SB 5822 stalled in House Rules, the final hurdle for passage.
★ We were able to call on our supporters to let their voices be heard at each stage of the bill's advancement.
All of this will be fruitful moving forward as we continue to build the coalition with our supporters and allies and work to achieve true universal health care for Washingtonians.
Thanks to you, the momentum for single-payer is growing!
Here is the budget proviso in the House Budget HB 1109, Section 211, on pages 135 & 136. The essential elements of the amendments HCFA-WA fought for and won are shown highlighted.
(57) The health care authority is directed to convene a work group on establishing a universal health care system in Washington. $500,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2020 is provided solely for the health care authority to contract with one or more consultants to perform any actuarial and financial analyses necessary to develop options under (b)(vi) of this subsection.
(a) The work group must consist of a broad range of stakeholders with expertise in the health care financing and delivery system, including but not limited to:
(i) Consumers, patients, and the general public;
(ii) Patient advocates and community health advocates;
(iii) Large and small businesses with experience with large and small group insurance and self-insured models;
(iv) Labor, including experience with Taft-Hartley coverage;
(v) Health care providers that are self-employed and health care providers that are otherwise employed;
(vi) Health care facilities such as hospitals and clinics;
(vii) Health insurance carriers;
(viii) The Washington health benefit exchange and state agencies,including the office of financial management, the office of the insurance commissioner, the department of revenue, and the office of the state treasurer; and
(ix) Legislators from each caucus of the house of representatives and senate.
(b) The work group must study and make recommendations to the legislature on how to create, implement, maintain, and fund a universal health care system that may include publicly funded, publicly administered, and publicly and privately delivered health care that is sustainable and affordable to all Washington residents including, but not limited to:
(i) Options for increasing coverage and access for uninsured and underinsured populations;
(ii) Transparency measures across major health system actors, including carriers, hospitals, and other health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and provider groups that promote understanding and analyses to best manage and lower costs;
(iii) Innovations that will promote quality, evidence-based practices leading to sustainability, and affordability in a universal health care system. When studying innovations under this subsection, the work group must develop recommendations on issues related to covered benefits and quality assurance and consider expanding and supplementing the work of the Robert Bree collaborative and the health technology assessment program;
(iv) Options for ensuring a just transition to a universal healthcare system for all stakeholders including, but not limited to, consumers, businesses, health care providers and facilities, hospitals, health carriers, state agencies, and entities representing both management and labor for these stakeholders;
(v) Options to expand or establish health care purchasing in collaboration with neighboring states; and
(vi) Options for revenue and financing mechanisms to fund the universal health care system. The work group shall contract with one or more consultants to perform any actuarial and financial analyses necessary to develop options under this subsection.
(c) The work group must report its findings and recommendations to the appropriate committees of the legislature by November 15, 2020. Preliminary reports with findings and preliminary recommendations shall be made public and open for public comment by November 15, 2019, and May 15, 2020.