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May 2020 e.Bulletin

In this e.Bulletin: Support the HCEGA to Stop The Vicious Cycle of Inequity; giveBIG success; remembering Roger Fulton

Salutations to our readers, donors, volunteers, supporters and the curious!  We are glad you’re here!  Here’s what this month’s e-bulletin has in store:

  • ★ Health inequity is part of a larger cycle of entrenched socioeconomic inequality affecting people of color and marginalized groups.  COVID-19 deepens these inequities. Universal Health Care can help to break the cycle.
  • ★ We support the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act in the Other Washington. You can too!
  • ★ The GiveBig campaign lived up to its name. You gave Big! Thank you! 
  • ★ A Remembrance of Roger Fulton
  • ★ Health News and Commentary
  • ★ Upcoming Events

Thanks to this month’s contributors:  Jeanne Ernst, Dana Iorio, Cindi Laws, Chuck Pennachio and Chuck Richards. Thanks to Marcia Stedman for editorial input.

Health Care Inequities in the Time of COVID

News of COVID inequity by race/ethnicity, geographic location and low income is pouring in from all states and across the world. Despite Washington’s commitment to reducing racial and other disparities in health outcomes, the problem is complex and requires work on many fronts.

Health and socioeconomic inequities are self-reinforcing, and COVID-19 is worsening and is worsened by this dreary cycle. It is hitting the most vulnerable people in our society hardest, and our ability to defeat the virus depends on our will to overcome long standing barriers to equitable health care with comprehensive health care reform.

As of May 15 in King County, COVID-19 infection rate for Blacks was nearly 4 times that of Whites, and for Hispanics it was 9-fold that of Whites. Hispanics had nearly 6 times the COVID deaths as Whites, after adjusting for age differences in the populations. These inequities are also apparent in COVID hospitalizations in King County:

Yakima County shows similar COVID disparities.  With fruit picking season upon our state and guest workers coming from Mexico, are growers doing enough to protect them?  What kind of social distancing, PPE, COVID testing and health care will they have access to?

There is so much more to say about health disparities in Washington and the US, and how they point to the urgent need to break the cycle with bold and innovative health care reform. A more in depth blog post on the topic is coming. We’ll notify on social media when it’s up! Or check back here soon!

COVID Healthcare Coverage: National Legislative Update

There are three COVID-related healthcare proposals currently floating in Congress that are anticipating the ranks of uninsured and underinsured people to balloon due to job and wage loss. This is yet another indicator of the inadequacy of employer-sponsored health insurance. The proposals are: The Medicare Crisis Program, the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, and the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act.

You can compare these proposals in this handy table, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program.

The HEROES Act HR 6800 passed the House on May 15. It contains the provisions of the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act. It provides premium subsidies for workers who qualify for COBRA coverage. This proposal is less comprehensive and is more insurance-industry friendly than the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act. The Medicare Crisis Program is limited to covering only people who are eligible for unemployment, and it involves some cost-sharing for non-COVID health care.

HCFA-WA is supporting The Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act (HCEGA) HR 6906, a healthcare bill introduced by Seattle’s Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Senator Bernie Sanders.

This bill has been described as “temporary Medicare for All”. The goal is to ensure that everyone is able to get the health care they need, regardless of their income, employment, or immigration status. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Bill features:

  • ★ Medicare pays all of the costs of treatment for the uninsured
  • ★ Medicare covers all out-of-pocket costs for those with public or private insurance
  • ★ Covers all medical costs and prescription drugs, including diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • ★ bans surprise billing and collection of medical debt
  • ★ supports healthy communities
  • ★ brings needed revenue to healthcare facilities and providers

The act would take effect immediately and remain in force until a coronavirus vaccine is approved and widely available to the public.

You can read the legislative text here and the bill summary here.

HCEGA HR 6906 covers the most people with the least cost-sharing, and is the most administratively simple of the proposals, and that is why we are supporting it. Covering everyone is crucial in the fight to stop the spread of COVID.

Action Alert: Message Your Congressperson to Co-Sponsor the HCEGA

Please take a few minutes to message your Congressional and Senate representatives urging them to support the HCEGA.  This bill can only get traction with many more co-sponsors and legislators’ awareness of its importance to constituents.

Here’s how:
Call Your Senators and Representative
US Congress Switchboard: 1 (202) 224-3121


Email Your Representative & Two Senators:
Members of Congress use forms to accept email messages. Below are the websites you will need to email your Representative and two Senators.
First, choose your Representative below to go to their email website.
Unsure? Find your Representative here.

After you are in the email website for your elected, enter your zip+4, copy and paste the subject and letter below into the form.

CD 1: Suzan Delbene (D)

CD 2: Rep. Rick Larsen (D) CD 3: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) CD 4: Rep. Dan Newhouse (R) CD 5: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R)
CD 6: Rep. Derek Kilmer (D) CD 7: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D) CD 8: Rep. Kim Schrier, MD (D) CD 9: Rep. Adam Smith (D) CD 10: Rep. Denny Heck (D)

Finally, do the same for both your Senators:

Senator Patty Murray (D)

Senator Maria Cantwell (D)

Copy and Paste this letter, and include your own personal message if you wish:

Dear  [Name of Representative or Senator]

The recently-passed HEROES Act, H.R. 6800, contains important protections for frontline workers as well as financial relief for working families, healthcare providers, and state, local, and tribal governments. However, it does not do enough to meet our urgent health care needs. It fails to provide health care for the 28 million Americans who were uninsured before the crisis. COBRA subsidies in H.R. 6800 are not accessible to the many unemployed workers who had no employer-sponsored insurance. And the bill provides no help with non-COVID related deductibles and co-pays that already prevent many millions of insured Americans from seeking needed medical care.

I urge you to go beyond the COBRA subsidies in the HEROES Act, and to 𝗰𝗼-𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 HR 6906 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗚𝘂𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗲 𝗔𝗰𝘁 (𝗛𝗖𝗘𝗚𝗔). Recently introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the HCEGA is the ONLY proposal before Congress to extend health care access to the entire population to meet the public health crisis of COVID-19. It would:

> 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗹𝘆 upon passage and remain in force until a coronavirus vaccine is approved and widely available to the public.

> 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗠𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲 to cover all out-of-pocket expenses for those with existing private or public insurance, and to cover all medical costs for the uninsured. This coverage includes pharmaceutical drugs and diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

> 𝗲𝗻𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱, regardless of their income, employment or immigration status.

If we don't resolve this public health crisis, the economy won't recover. It's obvious now more than ever that the health of each individual depends on the health of the community. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

[Your personal story of how this act would impact you and your family could be included here. Your story matters!]

I 𝘂𝗿𝗴𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗼-𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗚𝘂𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗲 𝗔𝗰𝘁, a proposal that will guarantee affordable health care for all during the pandemic.

You can read the legislative text here:

Read the bill summary here:

Your Name, Town, Congressional District Number

We asked. They came. They Gave. And we ALL won: GiveBIG 2020 was HUGE!

Health Care for all Washington had big hopes this year for the annual GiveBIG campaign. We are happy for all the fine organizations and causes, but we are especially thrilled that HCFA-WA “played above our weight” in relation to the 1,637 organizations participating.

On every metric, GiveBIG was a tremendously successful campaign for us. 25% of our donors were first timers, bringing new people into our critically important mission at an essential time. We had a 360% increase in the number of donors from 2019. And in the most important show of our success, we raised 1,110% more funds than last year.  Not only did each email bring in thousands of dollars, but perhaps more importantly, we were able to talk about the urgency of what we do, why our work is so essential, and provide evidence of our successes.  Read on for more about the campaign and how HCFA-WA is moving forward in this time of COVID-19. 

Q & A Time!  

Q:  The wildly successful giveBIG campaign is over, but more is still needed to move HCFA-WA’s work forward. Can I still donate?
A:  Of course! Now is always a good time to contribute to HCFA-WA!

Q:  I am keeping a more careful budget these days. Are there budget-friendly ways to donate?
A:   Great question! YES!

  • ★ monthly recurring - keeps the lights on and it's a set-it-and-forget way to go - no worries about renewing annually
  • ★ employer matching, if applicable
  • ★ Combined Fund Drive if an employee or retiree of the State of WA
  • ★ Amazon Smile Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase

In Memoriam: Roger Fulton

Last month, HCFA-WA lost a dear and trusted friend. Roger Fulton. Roger was a dedicated activist who donated his valuable time and expertise to many causes, including universal health care. Roger was an invaluable member of HCFA-WA and his contributions helped land HCFA-WA and the fight for universal health care where we are today: closer than ever. Read on for our remembrances and his obituary here.

Health News and Commentary

King County has big racial disparities in coronavirus cases and deaths, according to public-health data- Seattle Times

A coronavirus debate on the apple orchard: Should migrant workers be allowed to sleep in bunk beds?-- LA Times

As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread- NY Times

How Health Disparities Are Shaping the Impact of COVID-19- Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Navajo Nation surpasses New York state for the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the US- CNN

Coronavirus's effect on health care, from coverage to vaccines- Vox

Coronavirus Shows That We Need A New Debate On Primary Care For All - National Interest

The World’s Costliest Health Care …and what America might do about it - Harvard Magazine

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 1

North Kitsap Indivisible Meeting
5-6:30 pm

Ronnie Shure from HCFA-WA leads a discussion on legislation from the 2020 session. More info on their Facebook Page.
Join online via Zoom.

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