Takeaways from the October Universal Health Care Commission meeting.
The Spotlight is on Oregon's Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care report to its legislature.
Of special note is our 2nd Wednesday Speakers Series “Navigating Transgender Diversity”.
We are also sharing One Payer States’s exciting Second Intergenerational Justice Summit: Building Communication, Trust, and Activism Across Generations.
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Oct. 13th Universal Health Care Commission Meeting: Three Important Actions, Four Main Takeaways
- Voted to approve their Nov. 1st Baseline Report to the Legislature
- Authorized the Financial Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) application process
- Discussed their Work Plan for next year.
Four Main Takeaways:
Having approved their Baseline Report to the Legislature, the Commission is ready to move to the “fun” part of their work: actually designing a universal health care system for Washington. Rep. Schmick’s “no” vote prevented unanimous approval, but as he explained, it was a statement of his frustration at the slow pace of the Commission’s work: “This Report goes no farther than the Report of the preceding Universal Health Care Work Group on which I served for two years.” We understand. And we encourage the Commission to leverage the excellent work already done by its predecessor, the Universal Health Care Work Group.
The Financial Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) will include two positions reserved for interested Commission members, providing opportunities for real-time interaction between the two bodies.
The Commission needs more funding so that it may adequately support the new FTAC Committee’s scope of work. Without funding beyond this year’s 1 FTE position, each body will meet only 6 times next year. This is in stark contrast to Oregon’s Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care, which was supported by 5 staff positions. We will request funding to adequately support the Commission’s work.
The Commission’s next meetings will be devoted to developing a vision and a common understanding of their end goal, which has been a key request of advocates throughout the Commission’s first year. They also pledged to ensure that any interim steps they recommend will lead toward that end goal, and to learn from the work of other states such as Oregon. They could also consider HCFA-WA’s Washington Health Security Trust bill as a possible framework for the system design.
Additional notes on the meeting include:
Commissioner Jane Beyer’s suggestion for how to think about the vision and implementation of a universal health care system should be supported at the next meeting. Her idea is, for example when discussing Eligibility, the topic be framed by asking the following:
What can we learn from other states who have tried to implement universal health care–
OR, CA both have reports; MD has had success while Vermont failed
What are the current programs in WA state - such as PEBB and Cascade Care
Equity - addressing Social Determinants of Health
What current efforts provide foundational support for universal health care, e.g., the Total Cost of Insulin Work Group or the Health Care Cost Transparency Board
Kudos to the Commission for meeting the requirements mandated by the Legislature! We greatly appreciate their work and look forward to more robust discussions and decisions in the coming years.
At their next meeting on Dec. 15th the Commission will establish the Charter for the FTAC and continue to define their 2023 Work Plan.
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Highlights from the Oregon Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care Report
By Consuelo Echeverria
The Universal Health Care Commission’s (UHCC) October meeting focused on the mandated report due Nov 1st to the Washington State Legislature. At the same time our neighbor to the south, Oregon released its Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care report to its legislature.
The Oregon report is in the form of 13 recommendations to the legislature. Below are its highlights. Please note not all 13 recommendations are summarized. The full Report and all supporting documents are available on the Oregon Health Authority website.
The UHCC has been unable to formulate a vision of what a universal health care model should look like in Washington. This is despite the recommendations of the UHC Working Group 2021 Report which overwhelmingly recommended the single payer model which is projected to reduce aggregate system-wide expenditures by approximately $2.5 billion in the first year of implementation.
In contrast the Oregon Legislature set the vision for their Task Force with the requirement of a unified publicly funded health care system.
By next year, half of Medicare beneficiaries will have a private Medicare Advantage plan. Most large insurers in the program have been accused in court of fraud.
The New York Times summarizes:
‘The government now spends nearly as much on Medicare Advantage’s 29 million beneficiaries as on the Army and Navy combined. It’s enough money that even a small increase in the average patient’s bill adds up: The additional diagnoses led to $12 billion in overpayments in 2020, according to an estimate from the group that advises Medicare on payment policies — enough to cover hearing and vision care for every American over 65.’
The number of hospitals have decreased over the past decades while the number of for-profit hospital operators has increased.
This advisory committee is a sub-committee of the Health Care Cost Transparency Board. It will develop recommendations related to the state’s 12% primary care spending target for the board’s review.
The committee will begin their work by recommending a definition of primary care and standards for reporting and measuring claims- and non-claims-based spending.
Learn more about the Advisory Committee on Primary Care and the Health Care Cost Transparency Board on HCA’s website.
Washington State has committed significant resources to address the workforce challenges of licensed behavioral health treatment agencies. The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) has begun distribution of a $100 million workforce provider relief fund.
The funds can be used for immediate workforce retention and recruitment, costs incurred due to COVID-19, childcare stipends, or provider recruitment efforts. In addition, in January 2023, behavioral health treatment providers will begin receiving a 7% increase in their Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Take action against Medicare privatization!
- Tell Pres. Biden and your Congresspeople to stop ACO/Reach.
- Save Traditional Medicare from Medicare Advantage and Fraud.
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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: Consuelo Echeverria ★ Graphics & Communications Specialist: Sydnie Jones ★
★ Health News: Rich Lague & Cris Currie ★
★ President: Ronnie Shure ★