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August 2023 e.Bulletin

INTRODUCING . . . our new URL:  www.hcfawa.org

As you might have noticed, our website was briefly unreachable earlier this month. First, we want to assure you that this was not a security breach, nor did it involve or affect any of your personal information. We determined that the outage was caused by an issue with our domain. 

We greatly appreciate the quick work of Sydnie Jones, our Communications Specialist. The entire Communications Team was involved, but Sydnie made it happen: secured a new domain, worked diligently to move all our content over to it, and fixed issues that we found after we migrated to the new domain. 

What you should know

  • Website bookmarks: If you’ve previously bookmarked our website, please update your browser’s bookmark with our new URL, www.hcfawa.org. That will help ensure that you have easy access to our website.
  • Emails: If you sent an email to any individual who had an address ending with “@healthcareforallwa.org” from August 7 to 15, that email was not delivered. Please update those email addresses to end with “@hcfawa.org” and send your email again.
  • Our 501(c)3 website: The HCFA Education Fund has a separate website and was not affected.

How you can help

If you notice that any area of the website is not working as it should, please let us know by sending an email to [email protected].  

Thank you!

Read on for these stories:

  • Universal Health Care Commission August meeting recap: Finally, a vision!
  • Financial Technical Advisory Committee: The barrier that is ERISA
  • Spotlight:  August 1 rally to stop raiding our Medicare! 

When you’re done with the stories, there’s more to dive into in Health Care News and Commentary and Upcoming Events later in this e.Bulletin.

SAVE THE DATE!  

October 21, 1-4 pm - HCFA-WA’s Annual Educational Conference and Meeting - this year in person and on Zoom!

August Meeting Recap: Finally, a vision!

By Marcia Stedman 

We are pleased to report that at the August 10 meeting (#13), after years of continued public comments urging the Universal Health Care Commission (UHCC) to set a vision, legislators requested that the UHCC view the Washington Health Trust (WHT) bill (SB 5335) as a framework for a Washington state-specific universal health care plan! The one-hour presentation by Whole Washington’s Andre Stackhouse and Erin Georgen was clear and concise.

As they noted, the WHT was originally based on and inspired by HCFA-WA’s Washington Health Security Trust (WHST) bill. Although there are similarities, there are also differences. For example, the WHT includes detailed funding mechanisms and a specific five-year timeline to achieve a true single-payer plan, while the WHST leaves those details to the discretion of the UHCC and Financial Technical Advisory (FTAC).  The UHCC and FTAC are developing transitional steps now, and at the same time working to ensure that the funding system is robust and equitable.

HCFA-WA envisioned that a key element of the Commission’s work would be an informed dialogue among Commission members. We were extremely pleased that at this meeting, the question posed by Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax (“How will you deal with people who don’t trust the government?”) was actually answered. The answer was:

  • The WHT is a voluntary system.
  • People aren’t pleased with their health insurance companies, either.
  • This program will take a while to set up and build the peoples’ trust.

Watch the recording, starting at 46:46, to view the presentation. Public comments, as always, highlight the urgency of the UHCC’s work. Those comments start at 12:38. The slide presentation, entitled “Understanding the Washington Health Trust,” begins on page 59 of the meeting materials.

HCFA-WA’s strong relationships with key legislators and the effective advocacy of numerous allied organizations and individuals made the establishment of the UHCC possible.  We remain committed to its process, including the work of the FTAC. We expect that  the additional funding we secured for increased staff and consultants will make the UHCC more effective in 2024-25. We look forward to more opportunities to participate in their work.

The audience of 115 participants included some elected officials, but only six of the 14 current UHCC members attended, causing the planned votes on recommendations for transitional solutions to be postponed to the next meeting on October 12, 2-4 p.m. The meeting will be held on Zoom, in person at the Health Care Authority in Olympia, and live on TVW.

Got comments?

  • You can contact the UHCC at any time. Detailed instructions here. 
  • For your written comments to be included in an upcoming meeting, email your comments two weeks before that meeting occurs.  
  • To speak at the meeting, sign up by 5 pm the day before the meeting occurs.
  • Contact HCFA-WA if you want help with drafting your comments.

Read past meeting recaps on our website for our take.

FTAC in July: The barrier that is ERISA

By Consuelo Echeverria 

The July meeting of the Financial Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) was the second of three deep dives into the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. While there is much to digest in Harvard’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation presentation, no solutions were presented. The overall take-away is that ERISA is a barrier to state-based universal health movements. This includes challenges to fair share payments of health costs by employers and state-based all-payer claims databases. 

However, there is a solution!

Georgia state health policy researchers Erin C. Fuse Brown and Elizabeth Y. McCuskey have a strategy to hopefully overcome ERISA challenges. They’ve outlined that strategy and the relevant case law in their paper, Federalism, ERISA, and State Single-Payer Health Care. Our own Cris Currie’s paper, ERISA and State Single-Payer Healthcare: A Primer, suggests how this strategy can be applied in Washington state. 

Make your voice heard! 

The next meeting of the FTAC is Thursday, September 14, 2023, 2-4 p.m.

Read on if you are curious about the case law and want a summary of the Brown & McCuskey paper.

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August 1 Rally: Stop Raiding Our Medicare!

Notes from above ground: We are not going to stay silent as corporate raiders enter the Medicare fund.

By Consuelo Echeverria 

Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) and a group of dedicated allies held a rally on August 1 at the Seattle Federal Building to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Medicare. At the rally, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, and Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works, covered who profits from selling Medicare Advantage and Medigap insurance and what needs to be done to stop them! We need to tell President Biden and the folks in DC to:

  • Add benefits to traditional Medicare, including coverage for vision, dental, and hearing.
  • Eliminate the 20 percent Medicare co-pays; and cap out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Eliminate the excessive administrative costs and profits in private insurance programs.
  • Take back money that the Medicare Trust Fund lost to fraud and abuse by private insurance corporations.

Thank you, PSARA! A complete report on the Stop Raiding Medicare Rally is in the September Retiree Advocate newsletter. See a video of the rally highlights on YouTube here.

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The Hidden Fee Costing Doctors Millions Every Year 

How do we fix the scandal that is American health care by Nicholas Kristoff 

Health Care in the UK: ordinary and expected 

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Wed, Sept. 13

 

Dr. Ed Weisbart: We Can Reclaim Medicare From Greedy Profiteers
Sponsored by Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA)
5-7:00 p.m.

Register for this Zoom webinar here.


Wed, Sept. 13
 

2nd Wednesday Speaker Series: PATHWAYS TO RECOVERY: What Are The Right Steps For People With Substance Use Disorder?
with
Brad Finegood, MA, LMHC, Strategic Advisor at Public Health - Seattle & King County
7-8:00 p.m.

RSVP here.

Thurs, Sept. 14

 

The Finance Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC)
2-4:00 p.m.

FTAC materials will be posted at Upcoming meetings and materials page.

The Finance Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) meets in person at the Health Care Authority offices in Olympia, and virtually on Zoom.

Wed, Sep. 20

 

Physicians for a National Health Program Washington (PNHPWA) monthly meeting on Zoom
7-8:30 p.m.

Check their website for details.

Sat, Oct. 21

 

HCFA-WA Annual Educational Conference & Meeting
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Our meeting will be in person and on Zoom. Details available soon. We look forward to seeing you!

RSVP here

 

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.


 Co-Editors: Marcia Stedman & Consuelo Echeverria 
★ Graphics & Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones 
★ Copy Editor: Connie Rock  
  President: Ronnie Shure ★  

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