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November 2020 e.Bulletin

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John F. Kennedy

We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully you're still basking in the afterglow of turkey-day leftovers and video calls. From all of us at Health Care for All-WA, thank you! Thank you to all who have amplified our message and told your stories to your legislators and the Universal Health Care Work Group, and dedicated your time and supported our work with a financial contribution. You’ve helped us have our most successful year yet in getting significant legislation passed, with the work of a professional lobbyist. The Universal Health Care Work Group is now drafting its report on state-based universal health care models to Washington legislators!  

We have additional, impactful health legislation goals but we need your financial support to fund our lobbying, outreach and communications efforts.  Please consider donating to Health Care for All- Washington before the end of the year.  We can’t do it without your help! 

The recent large surge in the COVID-19 pandemic will take a concerted, resolute response from all of us going into the holidays.  We all feel the stress of separation with loved ones and of finding different ways of celebrating and connecting. We wish you and yours a safe, healthy and lovingly distanced holiday season.  Keep up to date with COVID information and recommendations from the WA Department of Health.  Subscribe to their email alerts here.

  • Highlights of our Annual Meeting (With video links!)
  • HCFA-WA has posted our Health Equity statement to the website.
  • Legislative Updates
    • Upcoming legislative committee meetings of interest.  An update on the UHC Work Group is on the agenda! 
    • The SCOTUS hearing of oral arguments on the ACA 
    • Washington #insulin4all is making progress on legislation to have our state manufacture generic drugs
  • Spotlight on Social Determinants of Health: a good news story about a clinic that's closing racial health gaps!
  • News and Commentary
  • Upcoming Events- Another Universal Health Care Work Group meeting coming your way, and MORE!

Annual Meeting Highlights

Health Care for All Washington held our first virtual Annual Meeting on November 15, and we were so gratified to have the best turnout EVER. Things went surprisingly smoothly for our first webinar-style presentation that included panelists! We saw participant numbers reach into 100, and we had 44 voting members participate in the business meeting.   

You can access the full meeting as well as individual speaker segments on our YouTube page here.

 We’ll know we’re on the right track when people of color’s belonging is unquestioned, celebrated, and assumed.  When it does not need to be asserted; it’s felt, not demanded.-- Dr. Ben Danielson

Keynote Speaker Dr. Ben Danielson (video) informed and inspired us with a powerful message, that we need to have the courage and determination of Ruby Bridges to eliminate health disparities rooted in racism. Inequitable health outcomes are not based in race, but rather in racism. (For an expansion of this idea, check out this article which features UW med students' work).  Undoing racism and bias requires more than agreement and good intentions, it requires reparations, enhancing opportunities and inclusive, diverse leadership. Dr. Danielson challenged the audience to consider whether incrementalism in health care reform could be the enemy of great progress.

Click here for more highlights of the Annual Meeting.

Equity Statement

Equity is the value that undergirds the drive for universal health care coverage.  HCFA-WA presents our statement of commitment to societal equity and health inequity in particular. This statement is now on our About Us page:

Committed to Equity

Health Care for All-Washington affirms centering and prioritizing the needs of Washingtonians who experience inequitable health outcomes and social and economic hardship because of income, or injustice, discrimination, and indifference based on race/ethnicity, sex, disability, age, LGBTQ or other marginalized groups.

We strive to promote fairness and equity, and work to remove disparities in health access, quality, cost, and in the social determinants of health. HCFA-WA affirms that universal health care is foundational to all efforts to achieve health equity.

Health Care for All-Washington invites and welcomes into our organization all who experience societal inequities. Bring your voice, perspective, experiences and skills to our mission to bring publicly-funded health care to ALL Washingtonians.


Getting Ready for the Next Session -- Kevin Wren 

The pandemic will be impacting the upcoming legislative session, from the way public can provide testimony to the sheer number of bills being introduced. #insulin4all has been working with Representative Eileen Cody and others on the House Health Care & Wellness Committee to introduce a bill that would allow Washington to manufacture or distribute generic medicine and bio-similar insulin. Despite the challenges of the upcoming session, we are determined to help support this transformative step that will lower costs for patients, while creating jobs in the pharmaceutical industry in the state, generating revenue for Washington, and protecting our medical supply chains. We have the opportunity to provide real relief for folks struggling to afford their medicine by making the market competitive while providing the same safe, effective medicines produced by large corporations. 

We can prevent drug manufacturers from exploiting the disabled, chronically ill, and vulnerable by providing a stable, reliable source for the medicine we need to survive. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities experience rationing medicine to a greater extent, while also facing other injustices. We are working to make sure everyone has access to the medicine they need because managing a condition is already enough work that we shouldn't be nickel, dimed, and price-gouged for accessing it. Look forward to hearing more!

Kevin Wren is incoming HCFA-WA Board Treasurer and leader of Washington #insulin4all. Check out Kevin’s letter to the editor of the Tacoma News Tribune published November 9. 

Senate and House Health Care Committee Meetings of Interest December 1

WATCH!  The Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee will hear an update on the Universal Health Care workgroup on December 1 at 1:45 PM. 

The House Health Care and Wellness Committee will also meet on December 1 at 1:30 pm.  The agenda includes an update on the uninsured, and insurance subsidies

See the UPCOMING EVENTS section below for details on how to tune in to these meetings.


SCOTUS Not Impressed by Oral Arguments to Repeal the ACA

Justice Roberts, regarding repealing the ACA:

"I think, frankly, that [Congress] wanted the court to do that. But that's not our job."

On November 10, The Supreme Court heard a consolidated oral argument challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The heart of the case is the idea that the ACA depends on the individual mandate to function properly. Removing the individual mandate, it is argued, (by removing the penalty for not enrolling in it) harms states enough to justify repealing the entire law.  Justices resisted this reasoning in part because challengers did not provide proof of substantial harm from removing the mandate, and because of the doctrine of severability.

The doctrine of severability calls for the court to preserve the rest of a law when it can, even if one provision or another is struck down. Justice Roberts questioned the idea that Congress intended the whole ACA to be struck down when they removed the penalty for not enrolling.  Alito, Sotomeyer, even Kavanaugh, Thomas and Barrett all weighed in with statements suggesting there is no justification for striking down the whole law and that the individual mandate is indeed severable.

We're cautiously optimistic that the justices of the highest court do not want to do Congress' dirty work of repealing the ACA, leaving 23 million people without health insurance, and without coverage for pre-existing conditions.

In addition, the ACA contains the 1332 state innovation waiver, which is needed to implement unique state plans and release federal funds as provided in HR 5010, the State-Based Universal Health Care Act (SBUHC). The SBUHC is essential to setting up Washington's own publicly funded universal health care model, now under final consideration by the Universal Health Care Work Group. 


Social Determinants of Health

About 80% of our health is shaped not by the health care we receive when sick, but by our social, economic, and physical environments.  These factors define “Social Determinants of Health” (SDOH) and it is now recognized that achieving health equity depends on addressing SDOH, as many marginalized and vulnerable people experience unfavorable SDOH. The spotlight this month is a good news story!

How a Minneapolis Clinic Is Narrowing Racial Gaps In Health

An inspiring story about a community health clinic that doubled vaccination rates and health screenings in a racially diverse community while building a stronger community and saving health costs.  The clinic combines health and social services, using staff who have deep connections to the community they serve. Innovations included providing bus tokens, a food pantry, and hosting lunch events with local religious leaders.  A story well worth the read (or watch the video!).

Stella Whitney-West has been CEO of NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center for the last 16 years. "Our staff is reflective of our community that we serve," she says.


Healthcare News & Commentary

Hospital Bills for Uninsured COVID Patients Are Covered, but No One Tells Them

The pandemic relief CARES Act provides compensation to hospitals who treat uninsured COVID patients. Hospitals are not required to tell patients that their COVID related care will be covered if uninsured.  A national survey suggests that hospitals are not telling patients about the program, which could lead to people waiting too long to get life-saving care

Health insurers are starting to roll back coverage for telehealth – even though demand is way up due to COVID-19

The CARES Act expanded patient access to telehealth and reimbursement to providers for telehealth was made equal to equivalent care that would be provided in person. As a result, the use of telehealth increased exponentially in both Medicare and private insurance enrollees. Telehealth claims increased over 4,000% from the previous year. The increased utilization of care through telehealth is very costly to insurers.   A continued increase in COVID-19 cases is expected this fall, just as insurance providers are starting to diminish coverage for telehealth visits.

A New Item on Your Medical Bill: The ‘Covid’ Fee

The coronavirus pandemic has made the practice of health care more costly as providers must wear protective gear and sanitize equipment more often, even as they face declining revenue.  Who should bear these costs is a difficult question, but some providers have been surprise billing patients directly rather than insurance, which may be illegal.


“Shopping for health insurance can be very stressful – especially if you have to worry about being ripped off.”

Aliera fined $1 million dollars by WA Insurance Commissioner

20 customers of this unlicensed, illegal health insurer had medical claims denied. “Aliera and Trinity promised to provide people with coverage when they needed it only to leave consumers with huge medical bills,” Kreidler said in a statement. “I’m taking action today to send a message to all scam artists – if you harm our consumers, you will pay heavily.

As COVID test sites reach capacity, Washington state leaders urge restraint and judgment

The complexities of messaging about COVID-19 testing in order to visit and travel during the holiday season, and the potential for test shortages as a result of increasing demand and running out of CARES funding are explored in this article.

Upcoming Events

Tue, Dec 1 

1:45 PM Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee - 

Update on the Universal Health Care Work Group and the Insurance Premium Subsidies Study

Tune in to the meeting here.

Tue Dec 1 

1:30 PM  House Health Care & Wellness Committee

Agenda includes: 

  • Update from the Office of Financial Management on uninsured rates and the impacts of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Update from the Health Benefit Exchange on current activities.

Tune in to the meeting here.

Access documents here.

Wed, Dec 9 

1-4 PM Universal Health Care Work group meeting #9.  Register here to observe the meeting live and submit comments/questions. 

Wed, Dec 16

7pm Northwest Newsmakers: The COVID Crisis with Dr. Vin Gupta 

Join Crosscut and KCTS 9 for a special conversation with Dr. Vin Gupta as we get the very latest in the efforts to mitigate the impacts of the COVID pandemic, emerging treatments, science and the path to a vaccine.

Zoom virtual event: RSVP Required Click here to RSVP

Did we miss an event, perhaps virtual, coming up in a month or so? Let us know ASAP and we’ll post it on Facebook!

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.

 Editor: Elaine Cox ★ Graphics & Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones 
★ Health News: Rich Lague  & Cris Currie  
 Spokane & Video: DW Clark   President: Marcia Stedman ★  

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