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Winter 2019 Report

We Have a Win!
First Steps on the Path to Universal Health Care
By Marcia Stedman, President

For the first time ever, a universal health care bill has made it out of Committee! Two weeks ago, SB 5822, the Pathway to Universal Health Care Bill, was heard in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. It moved on to the Ways & Means Committee where it was heard last week.

HCFA-WA members and supporters testified in both Committees in support of this bill, and offered recommendations for improvements in three key areas:

  • Section 2.1.a – Broaden the participation of the Work Group to include additional members of the community and medical professions, as well as other sectors of our population.
  • Section 2.2 - Strengthen the goal of the work group by including the stipulation that the goal include a health care system that is not only publicly funded, but also publicly administered and both publicly and privately delivered.
  • Section 3 – Increase transparency by providing periodic preliminary reports to the public, in addition to the final report which to be made to the appropriate committees of the Legislature.

None of our many suggested improvements to this bill was adopted by the Senate Health & Long-term Care Committee. However, during the discussion in the Ways & Means Committee's Executive Session, 4 of our 5 most important amendments were incorporated into the Second Substitute Bill. This is HUGE! We very much appreciate the dedication of Senators Bob Hasegawa and David Frockt who worked the language of this substitute bill right up to the end of the Executive Session.

By the way, that "missed" 5th amendment had to do with including in the Work Group “representatives of organizations which advocate for publicly funded and publicly administered health care.” It is likely that by including in the Work Group “patient advocates and community health care advocates” (another of our key amendments) this important viewpoint may be represented as well.

We are extremely grateful to the bill’s Prime Sponsor, Sen. Emily Randall, and to the 13 co-sponsors in the Senate who worked so tirelessly to move it forward. The House companion bill HB 1877 was Prime Sponsored by Rep. Nicole Macri who as Vice Chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee secured the support of 21 cosponsors on this important bill. We look forward to working with them and their colleagues as the Legislative Session continues.

It has been said that achieving health care reform is not a sprint, but a marathon. Continuing the track and field analogy, we’ll probably need to complete a few hurdles, a long jump, a high jump, and a shot put before we get to the finish line. Help us keep up the momentum!

Here’s what you can do now:
Watch the video of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee testimony.

Contact your Senator and let them know why you personally support Universal Health Care. Ask them to support passage of the second SSB 5822 out of the Senate Rules Committee & on the floor. Details here.

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