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April 2023 e.Bulletin

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“The underlying problem of health care spending is health inequity.”
-Pierre Theodore, MD, vice president health disparities, Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health

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In this issue we’re reporting on:

  • 2023 Legislative Wrap Up
  • Takeaways from the latest UHCC meeting identifying health equity as a necessary part of the model of universal health care
  • At the April Second Wednesday Speaker Series, we were fortunate to have members of the Oregon Universal Health Care Task Force and Health Care for All Oregon share some of the not-so-secret secrets of their success.
  • Healthcare News and Commentary
  • Upcoming Events

It is time for GiveBIG!

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Achievement Unlocked!  HCFA-WA’s top legislative priorities!
By Elaine Cox

That’s a wrap for Washington’s 68th regular legislative session, adjourned on April 23, the 105th legislative day. Floor voting is finished,  however, the Governor has stated he will call a special session to settle drug sentencing (the “Blake decision”) as the legislature did not reach an agreement. The Governor continues to sign bills, and some budgetary details are yet to be worked out.

The big news for HCFA-WA is that the operating budget requests for our top priority legislation passed! We’re also very pleased to see 7 other important health care bills we supported becoming law.

HCFA-WA has spent considerable time this session engaging with legislators in both chambers’ fiscal and policy committees. We also testified and commented in hearings. We are pleased that our hard work with legislators and Universal Health Care Commission members provided financial Means to open more Ways to bring health care to all Washingtonians regardless of ability to pay or immigration status.

UHCC Operating Budget Proviso: $466K per year was allotted to advance the work of the UHCC. The money will fund a healthcare finance consultant to the Financial Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) and additional administrative support from the Health Care Authority. 

Keeping the fires lit
HCFA-WA worked tirelessly to get the Universal Health Care Work Group established, then the UHCC, and we advocated to staff these committees with people who share our vision. Then our voice was heard on getting needed financial expertise and admin staff.  But now is not the time to rest on our laurels!  The process needs continuous attention and advocacy to maintain momentum and in the right direction!

Our work going forward will be to advocate that the UHCC contracts with financial experts whose work aligns with our vision that a publicly funded healthcare system can be financially sustainable and affordable while covering everybody. 

We will also advocate to the Commission to utilize the additional administrative staff to increase the pace of the work through more frequent meetings and creating small work groups, such as has been done in Oregon’s Task Force on Universal Health Care.

Our professional lobbyist, Lonnie Johns-Brown, provided HCFA-WA with invaluable strategy and facilitated important conversations and relationships with lawmakers and state agency personnel, to accomplish this year’s achievements.

Immigrant Health- $53 million for the 2023-25 biennium

When we say “Everybody In, Nobody Out”, we MEAN everybody residing in our state.  Immigration status should not be a barrier to receiving health care. 

HCFA-WA strongly supported the creation of a Medicaid look-alike program for immigrants who do not qualify for other health care programs.  The House and Senate were able to reconcile their initially very different versions through conference committee and voted to fund the program initially at $53 million for the 2023-25 biennium.

Status of Bills HCFA-WA supported during the 2023 legislative session

*Abbreviations: HC &W= House Health Care and Wellness Committee; H &LTC= Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee

Bill Number/Companion Bill

Title

Status

Actions taken by HCFA-WA

ESSB 5187/HB 1140

Proviso for UHCC and FTAC funding

Passed, delivered to Governor for signature

Action alerts with templates to email fiscal committee members in support, and thanking members who voted yea.

ESSB 5187/HB 1140

Immigrant Health “Medicaid Look-Alike” Program

Passed, delivered to Governor for signature

Action alerts sent with templates to email committee members in support, and thanking committee members who voted yea..

 

SB 5236 

Concerning hospital staffing standards

Passed, signed by Governor

Action Alerts to sign in “PRO” to committees

HB 1155/SB 5351

Addressing the collection, sharing, and selling of consumer health data

Passed, signed by Governor

Action Alert with email template including amendment recommendations, to send to Senators

HB 1678 

Establishing and authorizing the profession of dental therapy

Passed, delivered  to Governor

Action alerts to sign in “PRO” to committees

HB 1134 

Implementing the 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system

Passed, delivered to Governor

HCFA-WA amplified NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) action alert to our members.

SB 5189 

Establishing behavioral health support specialists

Passed, delivered to Governor

Action Alert to sign in “PRO”

HB 1508 /SB 5519

Improving consumer affordability through the health care cost transparency board.

Passed in the House. Stalled in Senate Rules 

HCFA-WA President Ronnie Shure testified in support to HC &W*. Action Alert  to sign in “PRO” to committees

SJM 8006  

Memorial Requesting that the federal government create a universal health care program

Passed Senate, did not get past Rules committee in House. 

Action alert to sign in “PRO”
HCFA-WA board member Marcia Stedman testified in support in House and Senate Committees.

SB 5393/HB 1379

Addressing affordability through health care provider contracting.

Stopped at Senate Rules Committee

Action Alert to sign in “PRO” to committees

HB 1313/SB 5492

Improving health care affordability for older adults and people with disabilities on medicare.

Stalled in House Appropriations. 

HCFA-WA board member Consuelo Echeverria testified to the HC &W committee with a personal story.

HB 1269

Amending the prescription drug affordability board.

Stopped at House Rules committee.

Ronnie Shure  testified in House HC & W as as part of a panel organized with the Patient Coalition of Washington

 

 

The April Universal Health Care Commission meeting 
By Consuelo Echeverria

Does equity matter?

This is the question that shaped the UHCC April meeting as Dr. J, (AKA Dr. Karen Johnson) stepped in to shed some light.

But first, a bit of vocabulary.

This graphic demonstrates the difference between equity and equality. Equality is represented by all boxes being  the same height but only those tall enough are able to see the game. Equity lens ensures everyone gets to see the game.  

Takeaways

  1.     The WA universal health model must address the Social Determinants of Health

To further expand on the equity lens, health means not only an absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being (World Health Organization). For example, we must build a healthcare system that when treating a child who has lived trauma with a high Adverse Childhood Experience score, (ACEs) their health care providers and the system in which the providers work must attend to that child’s wider world. Addressing social determinants of health requires that healthcare workers understand and have the tools to reduce the impacts of poverty, substandard housing, discrimination, fractured communities with friends and family dying young from disease or violence, in other words, address the social determinants of health that shape the environment of the child. 

Click to read the rest of this recap

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Spotlight on The Oregon Trail to UHC
By Marcia Stedman

Washington and Oregon are the front-runners among the 22 U.S. states with active state-based universal health care movements.  There are similarities. Both WA and OR have a dedicated core group of volunteers, who have met with Legislators and organized evidence-based public meetings and events for nearly 30 years.  In 2019, both states established entities that met for several years to study the costs and benefits of providing universal publicly funded health care to their residents.  Each state found that a publicly funded and administered system would provide healthcare to all their residents and simultaneously save $1 Billion or more annually  in health care costs.  But there is a big difference. Three years later, Washington’s UHCC is still deliberating over whether to recommend such a system for their residents, while Oregon’s Task Force voted last year to recommend the creation of a non-profit public corporation focussed on start-up activities that would set up their system.

We wanted to find out how Oregon was able to make the progress it did in a few short years, so we invited two members of the Oregon Task Force on Universal Health Care and the President of Health Care for All-Oregon to tell us about their work at our April 12th Speaker Series event.  

John Santa, a retired physician, gave us the basics as he explained how the Task Force benefited from: 

  • Clear direction from the Legislature (SB 770).  The bill language specifically required a publicly funded system. The Task Force was charged with recommending a universal health care system that offers equitable, affordable, comprehensive, high quality health care to all Oregon residents.

  • Staff, consultant, and agency responsiveness

  • Small workgroups made recommendations to the full Task Force

  • Actuarial modeling that stimulated and answered questions in a timely way, enabling consensus

  • A constitutional obligation to provide access to affordable health care to all state residents

  • A vote to recommend formation of a non-profit public corporation focused on start-up activities to develop the plan by 2026 (SB 1089) now being considered by the Oregon Legislature.

Read the full article here.

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A World Without The ACA’s Preventive Services Protections: The Impact Of The Braidwood Decision

Watch: Behavioral Health legislation- Austin Jenkins interviews state reps Tina Orwell and Greg Cheney.  55 minute video. 

US health care can’t afford health inequities 

Conquering the Health Disparities of Structural Racism

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It's time for giveBIG, the annual online giving event for Washington state non-profits and early giving is now open

For nearly 30 years, HCFA-WA has been dedicated to bringing universal publicly funded health care to Washington because lives are at stake.  

HCFA-WA Vice President Dr. Chris Covert-Bowlds says:

"As a doctor, it's devastating to lose a patient because they can't afford treatment. I have signed two Washington state death certificates listing the underlying cause as lack of health insurance. In one case, a woman in her 40s died of breast cancer because she couldn't afford treatment. Another woman, in her early 60s, died of heart disease. These cases are haunting. No one should die because they don't have health insurance."

Thanks to your generous support in the past we led the effort to lower insulin co-pays to $100, then $35, per month. We were instrumental in establishing the Universal Health Care Work Group, which led to the Universal Health Care Commission, where we actively participate in its open public meetings.

Health Care for All-WA is in the right places, with the right people, at the right time. Please continue to support our work so we can get the job done!

 

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.”

If you agree, now is the perfect time to support the organization moving Washington state toward a healthier and more equitable future with universal health care. With your help, we can make Everybody In, Nobody Out health care a reality!

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Thu, Apr. 27-Sun, Apr. 30

 

King County Clinic Seattle Center
Fisher Pavilion  
Volunteer Registration is open

Tues-Wed, May 2-3

 

giveBIG
See Call to Action above or donate here

 

Wed, May 10

 

HCFA-WA Second Wednesday Speaker Series: My Health My Data: The Future of Privacy with Jon Pincus
7-8:00 PM.
Zoom Link

Thu, May 11

 

FTAC (Finance Technical Advisory Committee of the Universal Health Care Commission)
3-5:00 P.M.
Zoom Link
Sign up to provide public comment
by 5 p.m. May 10. Your health care story matters. If you’d like assistance with commenting, contact HCFA-WA.

Wed, May 17

 

Physicians for a National Health Program 
7:00 P.M.
topic to be determined

Thu, May 25

 

Advisory Committee on Primary Care
(advisors to the Health Care Cost Transparency Board) 
2-4:00 P.M.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86068180428

Mon, Jun 5

 

A PSARA (Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action) Webinar Featuring Wendell Potter “Pulling Back the Curtain-Lies, Fraud, Naked Profiteering in Medicare Privatization Schemes”
3-5:00 P.M.
REGISTER

Thu, Jun 22

 

American Hospitals: Healing a Broken System Movie Screening
Seattle Public Library
5:30 p.m.
New movie on American hospitals from Fix It Healthcare Films. Co-sponsored by Health Care for All-WA with coalition members of Health Care is a Human Right
Official Trailer

Please support our work.


The perfect gift for every universal health care supporter, any time of year: Everybody In, Nobody Out t-shirts, winter scarves, and umbrellas.


 Editors: Elaine Cox & Consuelo Echeverria ★ Graphics & Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones 
  President: Ronnie Shure ★  

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