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March 2020 e.Bulletin

It’s been quite a month since our last e-bulletin. So much has changed and we’re all trying to find our bearings in an ever-changing swirl of information, working from home, maybe not working at all, students at home, meeting cancellations and social distancing in work and personal lives. We hope this finds you and loved ones safe and healthy, or getting any needed care, and finding silver linings and healthy coping strategies.

How are things going for you? Share your personal or professional experiences with COVID-19 through our Share My Story form.

In this e-bulletin we present our president’s message about HCFA-WA’s perspective on COVID-19 using a universal healthcare/single payer lens. The pandemic makes it clear that people need universal coverage to get the care they need, when they need it!

And we have great legislative news to share! So much winning! What are we winning? Oh, just that 100% of our legislative objectives this session made it to the governor’s desk, and that is looking very good for diabetics in our state who currently cannot afford insulin. AND: the foundations are being laid for reducing the cost of prescription drugs through the Health Care Authority. Lobbyist Cindi Laws provides an excellent Legislative Recap!


Message from HCFA-WA Board President Marcia Stedman:

COVID-19: Crisis, Clarity, and Community

The mission of Health Care for All-Washington has always been to make sure that everyone has health care. The current coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of government involvement in oversight and monitoring of public health. Government structures such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Security Council’s pandemic response team are important supports for our public health care system. It’s clear what is needed, now, more than ever: coverage that gets people the care they need when they need it, without the fear of being judged not eligible for it or not being able to pay for it. This crisis shows us the urgency of bringing universal coverage to the fore.

Health Care for All-Washington is grateful for the prompt actions taken by our Governor and regional and local leaders to protect our residents and economy during this coronavirus emergency. We thank all the dedicated healthcare practitioners responding every day to this unprecedented public health care crisis. We are inspired by those in our communities organizing to help health care providers stay protected, providing for neighbors in need, and finding creative ways to keep our social ties while physically distancing. This spirit of the community good undergirds the drive to Universal Health Care and fuels the work of HCFA-WA. Read more from Marcia about HCFA-WA and COVID-19 here.

2020 Legislative Wrap Up

We are so pleased that HCFA-WA’s legislative priorities were incorporated into several bills that passed the legislature and are now awaiting the Governor’s signature. When signed, this legislation will make insulin much more affordable for many diabetics in our state, and lay the foundations to publicly administer, fund and deliver prescription drugs This is a big step toward reducing the total cost of prescription drugs and making them affordable to all.

The Core 4: Success on Insulin Cost Bills and a Drug Affordability Board.

HCFA-WA promoted four initial bills: HB 2662, SB 6087, and SB 6113 dealt specifically with the cost of insulin and SB 6088 addressed high-cost drugs more broadly. All of the final versions of these bills passed, except 6113 which died on the House floor, but the main elements of it were brought into 2662. So our top legislative goals were attained! 2662 and 6087 provide immediate relief to diabetics: a $100 cap on out-of-pocket costs for insulin. 6113 and 6088 create structures overseen by the Health Care Authority to monitor drug prices, set upper payment limits, and purchase drugs at a lower cost.

As the bills moved through committees (Health Care and Wellness in the House and Health and Long Term Care in the Senate, and Ways and Means or Appropriations), very moving and often heartbreaking testimony was heard from diabetics and family members, including Rep. Maycumber, whose son developed diabetes as a toddler. HCFA-WA testified in strong support of the bills in public comment periods - watch our testimonies on our YouTube channel!

We were heartened to see several senators who voted ‘no’ on 6087 ultimately voted ‘yes’ on 2662, which contains all the provisions of 6087. We don’t know why they seemed to have a change of mind, perhaps it had to do with the powerful personal testimonies they heard. Thank you to all who testified and contacted legislators.

Click here for more on the key elements of these and other health care bills that passed the legislative branch.

We will keep you updated on any of these bill signings through our Facebook page. You can check the signing schedule here, which is updated daily. 

Give BIG 2020 is May 6! GiveBIG Washington is a day where individuals and organizations come together and make an investment in the communities we want to live in by supporting Washington-based nonprofits.

COVID-19 illustrates in stark relief the need for a universal health care system. With your help and support, HCFA-WA has made tremendous progress in the last two years. Now is a critical time for our work. Please give as generously as you can so that we can seize this unprecedented opportunity to advocate for universal health care on the strongest grounds yet. Your contribution in any amount will help tremendously,

We are eager to continue pushing forward together with these vital efforts. Help us make it happen with a Give BIG donation!

Pre-schedule a donation starting April 22.

Super Quick Action!

Send a thank you email to the 95 legislators who voted in favor of lowering insulin costs by passing bill 2662 to the Governor’s desk. Click here to open a new email draft with auto-populated email addresses and suggested language.

Help protect health care workers! Click here and donate personal protective equipment. Share widely!

In the News

ICYMI: Did you know that there’s an update to Cris Currie’s Medicare for All E-Book? Check it out for free here!

Good News on Coronavirus

Why Coronavirus Relief Needs to be Permanent: YES Magazine invites us to consider how responses to coronavirus show a path to sustainable social and health policy solutions:

“But we all have to recognize that this pandemic is offering us an opportunity to see where our weaknesses as a society are and to come up with effective sustainable solutions. Sustainable examples of a new system are emerging.”

We couldn’t agree more. Read about it here.

How Alberta has managed to do more COVID-19 tests than any other province: The province of Alberta, Canada, is third in the world, behind South Korea and Bahrain, for testing for the virus, with nearly 24,000 tests being done to date. Their success is attributed to “existing infrastructure, the early availability of testing kits, collaboration with universities and a testing process that runs around the clock.” Read about it here.

Here’s a Roundup of Good News Stories to Give you some Hope in the midst of the Pandemic 
The Seattle PI details: promising treatments and vaccines are in development, self-quarantining is making a difference in new infections AND reducing air pollution, and private companies are stepping up to help communities and health providers!

Washington Receives COVID Waiver from CMS
On March 19 CMS approved a waiver to grant our state a wider range of flexibilities that enable it to focus its resources on combating the COVID-19 outbreak and providing the best possible care to Washington's Medicaid clients. The waiver covers a large scope of activities, including health facilities and workforce, telehealth, financing of health care, and community supports. Some examples include:
Relief from health facility requirements to create new temporary facilities and use alternative sites
New billing codes for both telehealth and telephonic services, including for behavioral health services to cover telehealth services in the same manner and at the same rate as in-person care
More details here

Need to think about anything else but Coronavirus?

Here’s some good news from the world of science and health. Including: a breakthrough - diabetes is cured in mice, using human stem cells! 

Yale's most popular class ever is available free online — and the topic is how to be happier in your daily life.

Did you know you can help us achieve our goal — with no additional cost to you — when you shop with Amazon? If you shop at Amazon, simply use our Amazon Smile Link and Amazon will contribute to our education efforts.

The perfect gift for every universal health care supporter, any time of year: Everybody In, and Nobody Out t-shirts, winter scarves, and umbrellas.

Regular Contributors - Editor: Elaine Cox ★ Content: Kelly Powers ★ Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones Health News: Rich Lague  & Cris Currie  
 Spokane & Video: DW Clark   President: Marcia Stedman ★  

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