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February UHCC Meeting Recap

The Universal Health Care Commission Needs a Reboot

by Marcia Stedman

In a state where a majority of voters supports a universal healthcare system, Washington is not well-served by its Universal Health Care Commission. 

At its February meeting, the Commission once again punted on its charge to design a universal health care system, a system that would alleviate the pressures caused by our current fragmented system. In addition, Work Plans are not consistently followed, meetings are still presentation-heavy, and there is insufficient time for meaningful discussions about the design of the universal plan.  

Consideration of the Whole Washington perspective was listed on the 2024 Work Plan for February but was omitted from the February Agenda, due to a ‘mistake’ by the facilitators. The Benefit Design Grid promised by the consultants in December 2023 was not provided for this February meeting. Consequently, there was no framework for the Commission’s brief discussion that was cut short as the meeting ended.  Instead, suggestions are to be emailed to the facilitators. 

The extended presentation on Administrative Simplicity, in addition to using time that could have been spent in discussion, caused the bogeyman of infeasibility to once again rear its ugly head. According to these ‘experts,’ because the U.S. healthcare system is the way it is, it is not possible for the U.S. to have a system like Canada’s single-payer system.  

Instead, we should seek business efficiencies in the health care economy, i.e., increase productivity and more fully automate back-office systems.  As a result, the follow-on discussion on ‘universal system design’ yielded comments such as “design the best system we can afford'' and design a 2-tier system with “a minimum package of essential benefits with no cost at point of service and a 2nd tier of add-ons.” Clearly, this does not meet our definition of a universal health care system, nor was it the recommendation of the Universal Health Care Work Group which recommended that a Commission such as this one be created.

Nearly a month after the Feb. UHCC meeting, neither the Meeting Summary nor the video has been posted to the Health Care Authority’s website.  But, you can view the video here and the Meeting Materials here.

Join us as we track the next meeting of the UHCC this on Wed., April 17, 2-5 p.m.

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