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December UHCC & January FTAC Meetings

Finance Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) Meeting Jan, 2024 

By Consuelo Echeverria

The first FTAC meeting of 2024 was underwhelming.

The role of the FTAC is to answer the Universal Health Care Commission’s (UHCC) questions. This month, the question was to make recommendations on an 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver and how to simplify Medicaid administration.

These are both good questions in understanding how to include Medicaid enrollees in our universal health care plan. However, the Health Care Authority (HCA) and the consultants organized the meeting as 2 presentations leaving very little time for discussion. Furthermore, the recommendations seemed to come from the consultants or outside the committee and not from the FTAC members themselves. And yes, the results were predictable. There was unclear action surrounding the recommendations as the FTAC members did not have enough time to discuss them.

Unfortunately, we still have no plan! It is difficult to make any recommendations without a plan to hang them on. As members of the public keep pointing out, it's infuriating that in the 3rd year of the UHCC, we still do not know where we're going!

So here are some takeaways:

The meeting design prevents in-depth discussions. Even though we were successful in getting more time for the UHCC and FTAC meetings, this time is being used for presentations not discussions. For example, every time an in-depth discussion begins, it gets shut down for lack of time. And committee members routinely apologize for taking the time to have in depth discussions, which is exactly what they should be doing.

Considering the expertise on the FTAC, we at HCFA-WA are advocating that all materials be given ahead of time and that the meeting time be used for discussing the given topic. The recommendations need to come from the committee members themselves, as they are the subject matter experts. 

UHCC Dec 2023 meeting

Three questions and one frozen partridge.

Why is the UHCC not using funds allocated for supporting their work and external consultants in 2024?

Last year we successfully pushed for additional funding dedicated for an actuarial analysis and support staff to speed up the glacial pace of the UHCC.  You can imagine our shock and disappointment when, upon reading the 2023 UHCC End of Year Report, we found no mention of this additional funding.

Where is the plan, Sam?

To address the lack of a plan in 2022, in 2023 we advocated for presentations by the Oregon Task Force on Universal Health Care which covered the basics of a plan; Eligibility, Cost-sharing, Benefits, Goals, Provider reimbursement, Role of private health carriers. We also supported Whole Washington’s presentation of their bill Washington Health Trust which also laid out a model for the UHCC to follow. Yet despite these two presentations, multiple questions by Representative Schmick who always brings up who will be covered, and numerous public comments, there is still no plan!

What about single-payer in the plan, Sam? 

HCFA-WA advocates for single payer universal health care. We were instrumental in the formation of the Universal Health Care Work Group in 2019, which led to the creation of the Universal Health Care Commission.  The Work Group found that Model A, a single payer plan, “was projected to save $2.5 billion in the first year … and $5.6 billion annually thereafter.” 

Yet to date, single payer has not been seriously considered either by the UHCC or the FTAC.

Join us as we track the next meeting of the FTAC Thursday, March 14, 2024, 2-4:30 p.m. and the UHCC Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 2-5 p.m.

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