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June 2019 ebulletin

In this eBulletin: The Pathway to Universal Health Care bill updates, our new video spot with Dr. Paula Lantsberger, celebrating health care victories with our allies around the state, and more!

Our New Work Begins: The Pathway to Universal Health Care Work Group Forming in July

The Pathway Work Group is Official. On May 21, Governor Inslee nudged Washington state onto a pathway to universal healthcare. He authorized $500,000 for the Health Care Authority to convene a work group on establishing a universal health care system in Washington state in the state budget HB 1109. 

Thanks to several HCFA-WA amendments included in the budget line item, the work group will consist of a broad range of stakeholders with expertise in the health care financing and delivery systems. It will include patients, labor, insurance, healthcare providers and facilities, patient advocates, and many more interest groups.

First Step to Universal Health Care. Although the work group flew in under the radar, the consequences are significant. Among other directives, the work group must study and make recommendations to the legislature on how to create, implement, maintain, and fund a universal health care system. We will be working to establish the very foundation of a single-payer healthcare system for Washingtonians.

Now our new work begins. We will be supporting the Health Care Authority, who will convene the work group after July. We need to thank the Governor and our legislators and support them in moving the work group in the right direction. We will continue to build more alliances with other advocacy groups and make connections with the government agencies we believe will ultimately implement a single-payer universal health care system in our state.

With your support, we continue the movement for high quality, sustainable, affordable, publicly financed, privately delivered health coverage for all Washington residents. We hope you will support our advocacy work by donating. No donation is too large or too small! 

Celebrating Our Health Care Wins With Our Allies


Washingtonians! Time to Celebrate! 40+ health care access bills passed the 2019 Washington legislature. On June 4th, the Health Care is a Human Right - WA Campaign (HCHR-WA) gathered our allies to share and celebrate our wins and start thinking about what lies ahead. 

Health Care Champions. Rep. Nicole Macri, prime-sponsor of the House Pathway bill, and Senator Emily Randall, prime sponsor of the Senate version, and Senator David Frockt, all Health Care Champions serving on their respective Health Care Committees, shared their thoughts on the legislative session and where we need to go from here.

So. Many. Bills. In addition to the Pathway to Universal Health Care Work Group, we celebrated and highlighted several other bills: Cascade Care, the Long-Term Care Act, Surprise Billing, Drug Transparency, Clean Breaks for Nurses, Reproductive Equity, Behavioral Health bills, and a bill that codifies the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) such as covering pre-existing conditions into Washington State law. Check out Northwest Health Law Advocates' Legislative Summary to learn more about all of these important bills.

The 2018 Election was Key. All of these gains were made possible by voters and advocates like you. Washington voters delivered five key seats in the Washington Senate with a progressive surge that gave us a sturdy majority in the House and the Senate in Olympia. All of our work to educate the candidates about the need for a single-payer system in Washington state and identify Health Care Champions positioned us well for the 2019 session.

Thanks to our friends at PNHP-WW, you can watch a recording of the meeting, and read an HCFA meeting recap here.

Watch Dr. Paula Lantsberger make a case for why we need universal health care now based on her experiences as a physician in Spokane.

Our thanks to DW Clark, HCFA-WA Board Member from Spokane, for producing this short video. Please feel free to share it at events and on social media.

The Single-Payer and Universal Coverage Health Systems: Final ReportPublished!

The United States' higher health expenditures do not translate to better health outcomes and quality of care for the entire US population. These countries provide valuable lessons for health care reform in the US. -- Single-Payer and Universal Health Care Systems: Final Report

Our Work Bears Fruit. In 2018, HCFA-WA successfully lobbied for a line item in the budget to direct the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a study of single-payer and universal health coverage systems. 

The interim report, published in December 2018, "discussed policies to promote universal health care, outlined health care coverage and expenditures in Washington, examined potential effects of implementing single-payer health care, discussed challenges to implementing it, and summarized characteristics of national and state single-payer proposals."

This final report, released in May 2019, "...compares the US health care system to that in other high-income countries. These countries have achieved universal coverage and substantially lower health care spending than the US. Some have done so with single-payer systems; others with multi-payer, insurance-based systems." Additionally, the report found these countries:

  • Have lower administrative costs and in the case of single payer, lower provider administrative costs.
  • Are able to promote the wise use of procedures, medical technologies such as imaging, and drugs.
  • Are better at limiting financial barriers to care and promoting more equitable access across income groups.

These reports are significant because the title includes the word "Single-Payer," and the reports are produced by a Washington state agency and are now on the record.

We will dig into the final report and have more to say about it in July.

Third Medicare for All Hearing /Our Message Now Needs to Focus on the Benefits / And More

Hearing in the US House Ways and Means Committee. Essentially, the Medicare for All Act of 2019 had its third hearing in ninety days. Though the Chair would have preferred that "Medicare for All" was never uttered during the hearing, everyone seemed to ignore that directive. Watch powerful testimony from the former administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, Dr. Donald Berwick, and who has recently become a supporter of single-payer, at the 28:27 mark and in his answers to Congress members questions. Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefits Exchange which oversees ACA plans in our state, says that Washington state is not waiting for Congress and will continue to pursue creative solutions to achieve universal health care in our state.

Americans Focused on Health Care Struggles, Not So Much the Fix. There is recent evidence that most Americans have only a very shallow understanding of even basic health care finance policy:

In our focus groups with independent, Republican, and Democratic voters in several swing states and districts, the voters were only dimly aware of candidates' and elected officials' health proposals. They did not see them as relevant to their own struggles paying their medical bills or navigating the health system.

Therefore, we should keep our advocacy for Single Payer health care financing focused on the most basic benefits for patients: free choice of doctors and hospitals, and never having to change insurers. But the most important benefit is security -- not having to worry about financial ruin due to illness.

Viral Tweet. This article about the responses to the viral tweet "When did you become radicalized by the U.S. health care non-system?" reminds us of the risks we all face, and why we must continue to advocate Medicare for All -- Single Payer health care financing.

Four Important Things You May Have Missed About the Cascade Care Bill.DJ Wilson offers some reasons for single-payer advocates to give another look at Washington's new Cascade Care.

The ACA is Saving Lives. Research is beginning to come in on the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here is an article about research concluding that the ACA "has successfully curbed disparities in cancer treatment and allowed many to receive treatment at an earlier stage..." And here is another articleabout the drop in heart disease deaths linked to the ACA's Medicaid expansion.

Upcoming Events

Mon, Jun 24


Medicare for All National Strategy Update Call - National Nurses United
(6 pm Pacific, pre-register here to receive call-in number and pin)

Join the National Nurses United call with special guests like Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell, original co-authors of the House Medicare for All Act of 2019, and more.

 Thur,  July 18


Health Care is a Human Right-WA Campaign, Seattle
(6 pm, Washington State Labor Council)

July General Meeting - What's Next for Universal Health Care Advocacy?

Fri, Oct 18 - Sun, Oct 20


2019 Single-Payer Strategy Conference, Portland, OR
Register now here.

This nearby conference will be a great opportunity to network with advocates from other One Payer States. "Healthcare-NOW and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare invite you to join hundreds of activists for a weekend of inspiration and strategy to win single-payer national healthcare!"

Early bird registration fee ends August 30th.

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