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January 2024 e.Bulletin

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HCFA-WA is getting noticed!

Let's give a round of applause to our graphics creator, Sydnie Jones, whose Medicare Advantage graphic had 68,000 Twitter views as of 1/30/24. 

Check out our social media for more visuals coupled with hot news from the universal health care front. 
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Welcome to 2024 and the 2024 legislative session!

We open this issue with our 2024 Legislative Agenda and continue with our take on the Universal Health Care Commission (UHCC) and Finance Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC). 

Save the Date: Rally in Olympia for Universal Health Care 

Date: March 6th, 2024
Where: Capitol Steps
When: 11:00 

Invited speakers will include Legislators, members of partner organizations and music. Bring your best posters and be prepared to sing for universal health care.  

By Consuelo Echeverria

In this short session, we are following more than 20 bills. Below are some highlights: 

Bills that prepare WA state for universal health care (UHC).

For WA to afford a state based universal health care system, we need access to federal money for those enrolled in federal healthcare programs such as Medicare. This federal money can be accessed through innovation and demonstration waivers. However, there are steps that WA state needs to take for a successful waiver application. One of which is to prove to the feds that WA state has the capacity to run its own UHC system. HCFA-WA has submitted a budget proviso that does just that. The proviso proposes to study how to best consolidate our three largest state-run health benefits boards, PEBB, SEBB and non-Medicare eligible State Retirees, which is about 42% of state health care expenditures. The consolidation will not only lay the groundwork for a successful waiver application, it will also reduce the administrative costs into a unified system instead of 3 separate systems.

Additionally, we are supporting Sen. Hasegawa’s Senate Joint Memorial 8006 which asks the feds to create a universal healthcare program or, failing that, to pass Rep. Ro Khanna’s State Based Universal Health Care Act of 2023

This essential bill has passed the WA State Senate and now needs your advocacy to get it through the State House.

Bills that address lowering the cost and improving access to health care. 

We are calling our members to write to their representative in Olympia to support the Keep Our Care Act which regulates mergers and acquisitions by insurance companies and venture capitalists who tend to deny claims and close clinics. 

Finally, from insulin to epi-pens, HCFA-WA is advocating for bills that control the price of these lifesaving drugs. We are also supporting bills that address structural gaps such as SB 5213 Concerning pharmacy benefit managers, which regulates the hidden middlemen who control the price of and access to our medication.

Watch for action alerts in your inbox and help us get these bills passed.  

Learn about all the bills we support in 2024.

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 UHCC this Friday, February 2, 2024, 2-5 p.m.

We encourage you to:

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Fri, Feb. 2

 

Universal Health Care Commission meeting
2-5:00 p.m.

This meeting will be held on Zoom and in person at HCA


Wed, Feb. 9
 

Health Care Cost Transparency Board Meeting 
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Zoom link for meeting times and materials 

Tue, Feb. 13

 

One Payer States Office Hours
5-6:00 p.m.

Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D. will discuss the Four Freedoms, their relationship to universal health care, and how to use them to advocate for universal health care.

Register here

Wed, Feb. 14

 

2nd Wednesday Speaker Series: Celebrating Black Nurses
7-8:00 p.m.

Guest speakers Frankie Manning and Vanetta Molson-Turner

Link to RSVP

Wed, Feb. 21

 

Physicians for a National Health Program Washington (PNHP -WA)
"Health and Healthcare - What's the difference?"
7-8:00 p.m.

Stephen Bezruchka, PhD tackles why the US spends more money on healthcare than other nations, yet we are far from the healthiest.

Register here

Thur, Mar. 14

 

The Finance Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC)
2-4:30 p.m.

FTAC Upcoming meetings and materials page.

 

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: Consuelo Echeverria & Marcia Stedman 
★ Graphics & 
Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones 
  President: Ronnie Shure ★  

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May 2024 e.Bulletin

May 31, 2024

Kicking off a Summer of Action - Actions, Events, Meetings and more! TOP EVENT  - Happening NOW May 28-June 1:  2024 Medicare for All National Strategy Conference, Sponsored by Healthcare-NOW REGISTER HERE!  This year's theme is "Healthcare Beyond the Ballot Box," featuring presentations, interactive...

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