Welcome to the June issue of the e.Bulletin. We are keeping it short and sweet this issue with a focus on how to make universal health care a reality in WA with articles and a movie showing how corporations profit off our health. Read on for more and come join us in our fight!
Main Takeaway: The Commission is moving at a snail’s pace but help is on the way!
By Marcia Stedman
After the start date of Nov. 30, 2021 there is a lack of momentum and urgency in creating a universal health care system. There is still no unified vision or goal and the lack of a deadline or a clear mandate from the legislature has muddled the process even more. Read more to learn our solutions and how you can help.
The UHCC is a year and a half late in presenting these elements of their Nov. 2022 report as required by SB 5399:
- A strategy for implementable changes to Washington's health care financing and delivery system
An inventory of key universal health care system elements including
- financing system with single-payer system
- eligibility and enrollment
- covered benefits
- provider participation
- payment, cost containment and patient cost sharing
Despite two presentations on universal single-payer health care systems: one being Oregon’s Universal Health Care Task Force with the other on Washington’s existing Indian Health Care System, and Rep. Joe Schmick’s repeated questions: who’s in and who’s out, what is the intent and scope of covered services, the Commission has yet to define these elements or their vision/goal. This lack of direction from the UHCC delays not only the work of its Finance Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC), but also the realization of a universal health care system as described in the law that created it.
Specific transitional solutions have been on the Commission’s Agenda for the past two months, but lack of time and staff support have prevented meaningful discussion, which is long overdue.
These promising developments give us hope:
- First, thanks to HCFA-WA’s strong advocacy, the 2023-25 state budget includes funding to hire consultants and staff dedicated solely to assisting the Commission’s work. We expect to see an updated Work Plan at the Commission’s August 10th meeting.
- Second, a third single-payer presentation, this time on the Washington Health Trust bill as proposed in SB 5335, is on the August meeting agenda.
Meetings are in person at the Health Care Authority offices in Olympia as well as on Zoom:
August 10 - 2-4 pm UHCC meeting
July 13 - 2-4 pm FTAC meeting
The meetings continue to welcome Public Comments.
Sign up to provide public comment to the UHCC by 5 p.m. on August 9th.
Email written comments by July 26th to be included in the meeting materials.
Sign up to provide public comment to the FTAC by 5 p.m. on July 12th.
Written comments are accepted anytime.
Pro Tip: Subscribe to receive announcements of future meetings in your own in-box.
American Hospitals: Healing a Broken System
In June HCFA-WA partnered with our sister organizations for the Seattle premiere of a new provocative documentary, American Hospitals: Healing a Broken System. In-person premieres were also held in Spokane and Bremerton. The film takes a deep dive into the out-of-control cost of hospitals and their transformation into a money-driven big business with monopolistic practices and pervasive inequities in access and treatment. The film identifies innovative solutions that deserve national attention to restore hospitals to their historic focus on community health at affordable cost.
Healthcare reform advocates have known for years that Americans spend far more for health care than most other nations of the world, yet have worse health outcomes on nearly every metric. The Seattle audience was no exception.
The problem: hospitals prioritize profits over patients.
In the last few decades, corporate America, realizing how much money can be made in health care, began investing heavily in hospitals, consolidating ownership, raising prices, and closing unprofitable entities.
The result: hi-tech procedures prioritized over primary care, patients forced to choose between eating or paying their health care bills, and poor people most at risk of suffering poor health.
The solution: hold hospitals accountable, and get them to change their focus from making money off people to getting the community healthy.
The Affordable Care Act requires non-profit hospitals to provide community benefit programs in order to justify their tax exempt status. However, according to an April 2023 Lown Institute report, in 2020, 77% of non-profit hospitals spent less on charity care and community investment than the estimated value of their tax breaks, incurring a “fair share” deficit. And many of the hospitals with the largest “fair share” deficits also received millions in COVID-19 relief.
The film is not yet available for streaming, but you can View the trailer and learn how to Host a screening for your own community or group. Please let us know if you’d like our assistance in scheduling a screening.
As a follow up to the film on the privatization of our health system, here are some articles that are well worth the read.
Tue, July 11
Speaker: Rose Roach, recently retired Executive Director of the Minnesota Nurses Association, has spent 34 years in the labor movement in Minnesota and California. In retirement, she has taken on, as a volunteer, the positions of National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and Chair of Health Care for All MN.
Thur, July 13
Finance Technical Advisory Committee Meeting
Tue, July 18
Health Care Cost Transparency Board Meeting
Wed, July 19
Fri, July 21
One Payer States 3rd Friday Meeting
The perfect gift for every universal health care supporter, any time of year: Everybody In, Nobody Out t-shirts, winter scarves, and umbrellas.
★ Editor: Consuelo Echeverria & Elaine Cox ★
★ Graphics & Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones ★
★ President: Ronnie Shure ★