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March 2024 e.Bulletin

8 legislative wins, SBUHCA action, historic rally recap and more!

HCFA-WA board member Marcia Stedman speaks before a crowd gathered on the Capitol steps in Olympia, March 6

2024 Legislative Session Recap

By Marcia Stedman

Legislative Stats:  8 home runs, 3 strike-outs

Scorecard:  871 Action Alerts Taken

Huge thanks for the amazing fan support by all who weighed in on these important bills!

All 3 of our proviso requests supporting universal health care made it into the Budget

  1. $300,000 for a Health Benefit Exchange (HBE) study on transitioning those losing Medicaid onto other no-cost or low-cost HBE plans to ensure they are covered. 
  2. $90,000 for the Dept. of Health and Social Services to provide the legislature with the costs of expanding access to Medicaid for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.  
  3. $100,000 for the Health Care Authority to provide specific information on the costs of improving efficiency in the PEBB/SEBB benefit administration.  This study and the subsequent consolidation are important as it proves to the federal government that WA state has the capacity to administer its own healthcare plans which is needed to successfully win a federal  waiver.

Bills that lower the cost and improve access to health care:

  • HB 1508 -  Strengthening the Health Care Cost Transparency Board
  • HB 1957 -  prohibiting cost sharing for preventive services
  • SB 5986 -  Prohibiting out-of-network ground ambulance service charges

Bills that lower the price of pharmaceutical drugs

  • SB 5213 - Regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers
  • HB 1979 Reducing the cost of inhalers and epinephrine autoinjectors

Bills that did not pass.  Look for them to be reintroduced in 2025:

  • SJM 8006 - Requesting the federal government to create a universal health care program.
  • SB 5241 - Regulating the consolidation of hospital systems
  • HB 1310 - Authorizing physician assistant collaborative practice

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Sign the petition to support the State-Based Universal Health Care Act (SBUHCA, HR 6270) to help states create comprehensive health plans for all their residents, leading the way to a national universal, simple, affordable (USA), and equitable health plan. To read and sign the petition, just click here. Thank you for taking this vital action.

Gathering Forces  - Rally for Universal Healthcare -  March 6

By Consuelo Echeverria 

Health Care for All-Washington, Health Care Is a Human Right WA, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, Whole Washington, and Physicians for a National Health Program of Washington organized a rally for universal health care on the Capitol steps in Olympia. This is the first time that a wide array of organizations have come together in a call for universal health care in Washington state and it resulted in a historic turnout of over 120 people!

Speakers included Senators Kuderer, Hasegawa and representatives of labor organizations, women’s rights groups, civil rights organizations, immigrant and refugee organizations, faith communities, community health boards, healthcare professionals, and legal advocacy groups. This is the first time that a wide array of organizations have come together in a call for universal health care.

Amongst the celebrations, there was real disappointment that the Senate Joint Memorial calling for a federal universal healthcare plan or the passing of Ro Khanna’s State Based Universal Health Care Act did not pass despite the solid advocacy of Senator Hasegawa. We were also deeply disappointed that the Keep Our Care Act failed to pass. We thank Senators Hasegawa and Randall for all their work. 

In this time of consolidation and privatization of our healthcare system, the regulation of private entities is essential. AG Ferguson's recent victory in the lawsuit charging Providence with the violation of the state’s charity care law shows that without oversight and regulation, these entities are driven solely by profit. The lawsuit, the largest resolution of its kind in the country, requires the Providence healthcare system to pay $157.8 million to its patients. Furthermore, a recent PNHP report found that without sufficient oversight, Medicare Advantage programs overcharge taxpayers $140 billion each year, enough to totally eliminate Medicare part B premiums for seniors and people with disabilities.

In this landscape, our diversity of voices calling for universal publicly funded healthcare is all the more urgent. 

Look for speaker highlights on our YouTube channel soon!  

Finance Technical Advisory Committee Meeting March, 2024 

By Consuelo Echeverria

Our advocacy is paying off! This was the first time we heard the members really engage in substantial discussion. The presentation of Whole Washington’s WA Health Trust triggered a substantial discussion on steps to universal health care, its feasibility, cost and essential benefits.  

The main take away was that while there was real progress in discussion, we need concrete proposals from the FTAC starting with the actuarial analysis for the UHCC to implement. While ERISA regulations, winning federal Medicare waivers, along with a lack of a state income tax are real barriers to true universal healthcare in Washington, a stepwise approach is feasible. The Whole Washington presentation proposes starting with a single, state-designed coverage plan that insurance companies will run, and slowly over time move to a single payer plan with no insurance company participation. 

Click here to read more.

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The Challenges and Opportunities of Youth Behavioral Health in Washington

by John Britt, RN.MPH (ret)

At our 2nd Wednesday Speaker Series on March 13th Max Lau, from the Children’s Alliance, presented a summary of Youth Behavioral Health in Washington. 

Washington youth continue to face serious behavioral health challenges! 

A majority of Washington youth report symptoms of anxiety or depression, with one in ten reporting a suicide attempt in the last year. Reported symptoms increased from 42% in 2014 to 58% in 2021. LGTBQ, transgender, indigenous and multi-racial youth are at much higher risk.

Obtaining appropriate care is not an option for many.

Uneven distribution of providers means that only 12% of youth live where they could expect to find one. Many use emergency rooms, which rarely have psychiatric beds or options to transition youth to appropriate care. Others neglect to seek care due to affordability, cultural issues or stigma.

Recent (2024) legislative efforts to improve behavioral health care for youth:

The statewide 23 hour Crisis Center will now be allowed to serve minors

New funding will support:

  • Mobile response units.
  • Scholarships for those studying to become behavioral health providers and stipends for new providers.
  • Development of a behavioral health curriculum for schools.
  • Development of an online resource for parents.
  • Continued support for Certified Behavioral Health Clinics.

Looking ahead

  • Advocate for funding to recruit and train behavioral health providers who can deliver evidence based and culturally sensitive care.
  • Embed behavioral health education and care into the schools and local communities where it can be tailored to local needs.
  •  Reduce poverty and inequities in health that contribute to risk.

Click here to see the video. You can view/download his slideshow here.

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Tues, Apr. 2

 

PSARA presents “Fear and Loathing on the Way to Leveling the Playing Field”
5-6:00 p.m.

A very exciting panel discussion with Wendell Potter and Dr. Ed Weisbart amongst others, addressing our fight to preserve Medicare and the next steps to stop the corporate takeover.

Link to RSVP

For more information, email [email protected]

Wed, Apr. 10  

Health Care Cost Transparency Board Meeting 
2-4:00 p.m.

Zoom link for meeting times and materials

Wed, Apr. 10

 

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

RSVP here

Wed, Apr. 17

 

Dr. John Geyman for Physicians for a National Health Program Washington (PNHP -WA) 
7-8:00 p.m.

Dr. John Geyman speaks on his latest book: "Corporate Power and Oligarchy: How Our Democracy Can Prevail Over Authoritarianism and Fascism" just in time for our critical November election.

RSVP

Wed, Apr. 17

 

The Universal Health Care Commission (UHCC)
2-5:00 p.m.

Zoom Link

 

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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