Fall is here and we have been busy developing our legislative priorities for the upcoming 2023 Legislative Session. Look for information on our key bills here and our website as the Session approaches in early January. When the full calendar is posted we will share it here. We also have included an update on Take Action Network and how to use it!
A new version of our free eBook A Medicare for All Q&A by Cris Currie, RN, MA is out now! Download here.
In this issue we concentrate on the August meeting of the UHCC. It is clear that our public comments are having an impact. We encourage you to attend the meetings and offer your own comments during the public comment section near the beginning of each meeting. You can help make universal health care a reality!
We also have a link to our August Second Wednesday Speaker Series where AnnaLisa Gellerman of the HealthCare Cost Transparency Board presented their work
Finally we have a couple of action items which we ask you to please share with your networks and friends. The first is a request to sign a letter to restore the Odessa Brown clinic that serves the BIPOC community of the Seattle Central District. The second is a link to the stop ACO/REACH letter. We are amplifying this action from PNHP and PSARA by asking individuals and organizations to sign the letter.
Public Comments Lead the Way
by Marcia Stedman
Meeting #7 of the UHCC opened with compelling public testimony with the below takeaways.
FOUR MAIN TAKEAWAYS
Takeway #1 - Need for a clear articulated plan, a road map that places governance first to achieve universal health care
Public comments are essential to achieve an actionable pathway to a universal single payer system.
The HMA consultants placed governance as the last phase of their 3 phase strategy in their presentation. But Aaron Katz amongst other members of the public emphasized that ..”nothing that will affect public acceptance and support for the system that you design more than its governance and the public's faith that it will be transparent and responsive”. Upon hearing Dr Katz’s and others comments coupled with significant pushback from Commissioners, the HMA agreed to re-orient and place governance first.
Takeaway #2 - The Consultants’ limited proposal for Medicaid reimbursement rate increases was presented, but not discussed.
One of the major barriers to accessing care for poor folks is the fact that many providers can't afford to serve Medicaid clients as the reimbursement rates are so low. To address this, the same legislation (SB 5399 ) which created the UHCC requires recommendations to increase provider reimbursement rates for Medicaid services to 80% of Medicare rates so that providers can afford to provide healthcare for those who need it the most, BIPOC and rural communities.
However, the Health Care Authority considered the $864 million estimated annual price tag too costly, even though it would be offset by a $593 million federal match, leaving the State’s share at $271 Million.
HMA consulting addressed this by limiting Medicaid rate increases to only adult primary care and behavioral health, thus shortchanging those Medicaid enrollees who need specialty care and leaving $593 Million in Federal matching funds on the table.
The rush of comments brought about a much needed focus on health equity as Gary Renville highlighted how limiting reimbursements would impact the more than 785,000 Washingtonians and added yet “... another [barrier] in a long list of barriers to their health care.. as providers struggle to keep their doors open in the face of low Medicaid reimbursement rates.”
Roi Martin Brown went even further by stating, Washington needs “a truly single payer healthcare system that is more transparent with consistent fee schedules for providers and healthcare budgets that eliminate the extensive administrative costs of managed care.”
We need to keep the pressure on to ensure that this 80% increase is inserted into a universal health care model for WA.
Takeaway #3 – FTAC The Financial Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) was established by vote of the Commissioners. The FTAC will provide financial guidance and options to the Commission on a broad range of system design topics. We at Health Care for All-WA are advocating that the scope of work is too broad and the FTAC should be broken into smaller working groups.
Stay tuned here for updates on this work!
Takeaway #4 – Measures towards universal coverage while a UHC system is being designed:
- Align State-run programs, public programs, Medicaid Exchange, Public Employees Benefit Board and State Employees Benefit Board
- Expand access to the uninsured to the Exchange’s Qualified Health Plans
- Implement an integrated eligibility and enrollment system
- Initiate Federal discussions on options
At their next meeting on October 13th, the Commissioners will review and approve the Full Report with the changes that have been made throughout the past 7 meetings.
Sign up to provide public comment by 5 p.m. Oct 12th.
If you want your comments to be in the Agenda Packet for the Oct. 13th meeting, email them by 5 p.m. on Sept. 29th.
The complete record of Meeting #7 can be found when you:
In the last legislative session (Jan-Mar 2022), we started using the Take Action Network (TAN). TAN is a platform developed for Washington State activists, which we joined to monitor and advocate for our legislative agenda. We encourage you to join TAN so you can be up to date where advocacy is needed in the election season and in WA legislation.
Participation in TAN is no-cost thanks to the total volunteer operation. You can learn more and join from this link. Please email Ron Lovell, member HCFA-WA Communications group if you would like additional information.
The Health Care Cost Transparency Board was signed into law in 2020, with the purpose of reducing health care cost growth and increasing price transparency. The Board looks at the state’s total health care expenditures and identifies cost trends and cost drivers in the healthcare system that lead to setting health care cost growth benchmarks for providers and payers which ultimately leads to lower healthcare costs for Washington residents.
Here is the video if you want to see Ms. Gellerman’s presentation.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will cap prescription drug costs for hundreds of thousands of Washington Medicare beneficiaries, reduce health insurance premiums for tens of thousands of Washingtonians by hundreds of dollars per year on average while expanding coverage to about 52,000 Washingtonians, and cap insulin co-payments for the tens of thousands of Washington Medicare beneficiaries that use insulin.
There was considerable support for pursuing policies that would increase transparency of prices and costs and that would increase antitrust enforcement or otherwise address non-competitive conduct. Overall, large shares of respondents agreed that a greater role for the government in providing coverage and containing health care costs would be better for their business (83%) and better for their employees (86%).
Sign this action letter from our friends at King County Equity Now as they demand that Seattle Children's act to restore and return the Odessa Brown Clinic as an institution of healthcare for the Black community in the Central District.
In 2020, the Trump Administration launched a new policy “experiment” designed to privatize Traditional Medicare. Under this model, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has moved millions of Medicare beneficiaries into mostly commercial, for-profit plans managed by private equity firms, without the enrollees’ full understanding or consent. These private equity firms have a financial incentive to interfere with care decisions and waste taxpayer dollars when compared with the efficiency of Traditional Medicare. The Biden Administration has renamed this program "REACH" and included equity measures. However, privatization by any name decreases equity in healthcare service and threatens the future of Medicare as we know it.
Here is the Organizational link
Here is the Individual link
Learn more: ProtectMedicare.net
If you did not get a chance to see Kip Sullivan’s PNHP presentation on ACO REACH & Medicare privatization you can watch it here.
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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 ★
★ Video: DW Clark ★ President: Ronnie Shure ★