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.
- 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.