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Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting #7 recap: A Reality Check

HUGE THANKS to the 7 people who spoke during the public comment section of UHC Work Group Meeting #7.  We greatly appreciate the time these registrants took to prepare and deliver their powerful remarks.  

Check out their Comments. Our own Kevin Wren gives moving testimony on how he purchases insulin in Canada to help himself and other diabetics to get the life-saving treatment that they otherwise could not afford.  David Loud believes in the political feasibility of universal healthcare.  Other commenters spoke of: 

  • the importance of mental health coverage, 
  • linking employment to health insurance creates gaps in coverage
  • "just trying to survive" with a chronic health condition and unmanageable health costs
  • a critique of the actuarial analysis, 
  • a way to fund Option A

For those who were not able to deliver their comments live, there is still time to submit written public comments

Provide public comment, by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 19

To watch the meeting video:  

  • Watch the full meeting, with both breakout sessions where workgroup members discussed:
  • Expectations for the final report to the Legislature and future work.
  • Outcomes of the actuarial analyses.
  • Lessons learned from examples of previous universal health care efforts.
  • End-state we are trying to achieve with universal health care.
  • Action items and next steps.
  • Access meeting materials including actuarial consultant Optumas’ financial impact estimates. 

Pro tip for future meetings: To be assured of being able to comment during the meeting, be sure to register for each Work Group as soon as the link is available.

Meeting #7 Recap: Actuarial Analyses, Administrative Savings, and Benefits

In the midst of Federal uncertainties, a pandemic, a worsening recession, and the struggle for racial justice, it is more important than ever for everybody to have access to affordable, comprehensive, and equitable health care.

Main takeaways:

#1 – Meeting #7 was a reality check, as previously silent representatives from health insurance and small business spoke up and pushed back on the prior consensus in favor of a universal health plan with benefits set by the state and opposed to cost-sharing when accessing care. We heard from the Health Care Authority that due to the variety of viewpoints, the final report to the legislature will not be definitive. We also learned that some of those viewpoints have been expressed only in private conversations with the facilitator, in contrast to the robust public discussion that was envisioned when the Work Group was set up.

#2 – Nevertheless, universal health care advocates persisted in sharing their experiences with the barriers to care caused by cost-sharing, and the bargaining power of government to lower the costs of care. beyond the first year of implementation. They urged the actuaries to use lessons from Washington’s past healthcare reform efforts including our Indian Health program. and Taiwan’s success in implementing their government-funded universal healthcare system some 25 years ago.

#3 – Public comments were again overwhelmingly in favor of universal health care that provides the security of no cost-sharing and eliminates the hardship being kicked off of health insurance due to changes in life circumstances such as divorce or job loss.  HCFA-WA Board member Kevin Wren spoke of routinely having to source his life-saving insulin from Canada due to the high U.S. price.  HCFA-WA Advisory Board member David Loud questioned whether it is feasible in the midst of a pandemic to NOT provide universal health care.   

#4 – It’s encouraging that the actuaries are actively listening to these concerns and participating in the process. They recognized the need to accurately model the administrative savings of a universal system beyond the first year of implementation. However, the very complexity of our current fragmented healthcare system and the lack of transparency in healthcare costs makes this projection difficult. It is likely that progress toward the goal will involve a several-year journey.

#5 – Fulfilling the charge to the Work Group will require the active public and transparent participation of all members and their continued focus on the goal of this Work Group: to provide to the Legislature recommendations on how to create, implement, maintain, and fund a universal health care system.

#6 - Public comments are an important part of the process. As at past meetings, the public comments at Meeting #7 were overwhelmingly in favor of universal care that is managed, administered, and funded by state government. Your health care stories and expression of the urgency of moving our state to universal health care is vital.

There are only two meetings left before the Report is drafted:

  • Thursday, Oct. 29th – 1-4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 9th – 1-4 p.m.

For detailed information from the meetings and links to the recorded meeting and comments, click here.

Mark your calendar, watch this space for updates, and prepare your comments


We can’t make universal health care happen for Washington without your support!

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