Demand Congress Include the COVID-19 Workers Protection Missing from Stimulus Package #3

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Here’s today’s action alert from National Nurses United:

“For any of you that have a direct line to any Senators (or specifically to leadership), these are our top line demands:

1. The package needs to include a mandate for OSHA to promulgate an emergency temporary standard to protect health care workers.

2. The package needs to ensure that an adequate amount of money from the funding that is given to hospitals is used to purchase respirator masks (like N95s). We recommend that $10B out of the $100B given to hospitals is reserved specifically for this purpose.”

>>> Our own Senator Murray is in the leadership of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Call her at 202-224-2621 today, or use the NNU dialer number in the graphic below.

NNU has been working around the clock for weeks to ensure the necessary protections for health care workers are included in the congressional COVID-19 packages. We were successful in getting the OSHA emergency temporary standard into the House bill that was released yesterday, but today, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to put it in the Senate deal.

Can you help amplify our calls to McConnell and GOP Senators  to immediately put the standard back in on social media? We need to shame McConnell and Republicans for their failure to protect frontline health care workers.  Nurses and other health care workers are currently being exposed to COVID-19 without the proper protections, therefore putting their families, patients, and communities at risk. If we don’t get protections to them immediately, we risk the collapse of our health care workforce.

Here’s a tweet from NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN to amplify.

If you would like to retweet content about the lack of worker protections:

Here’s a recent Rolling Stone article featuring NNU nurses experiences.

Here’s a NowThis video we made with Be A Hero.

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COVID-19 Resources

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Public Health Insider blog with official insights from the Seattle-King County Public Health Department. You can sign up for email updates:

Washington Department of Health website with information about COVID-19 for each county and has links to the federal Centers for Disease Control:

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Watch Rep. Pramila Jayapal's March 18th COVID-19 Briefing

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Labor and Medicare for All

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The presidential campaign has highlighted differences in the labor movement over Medicare for All proposals, which you can read about in this Politico article. We agree with the statement from SEIU reported in the Nevada Current article that the debate over Medicare for All has presented a false choice.

We note that unions representing a majority of organized workers have endorsed Rep. Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill, HR 1384.* Delegates representing unions that comprise the WA State Labor Council, AFL-CIO have twice approved resolutions in support of “Medicare for All” in 2017 and 2019.

There is broad unity in the labor movement that health care is a right and that our country must achieve universal and affordable health care. We hope there will be real dialogue in the labor movement on these issues in the months ahead. This will help ensure that in 2021 our state and federal elected officials will have a strong mandate to finish the job begun by the Affordable Care Act and make universal health care a reality.

*List of Medicare for All Act of 2019 labor endorsers provided by Rep. Jayapal’s office in December 2019:

  1. National Nurses United
  2. Amalgamated Transit Union
  3. American Postal Workers Union
  4. Association of Flight Attendants
  5. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (Teamsters)
  6. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
  7. International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
  8. International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
  9. United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers
  10. United Mine Workers of America
  11. American Federation of Teachers
  12. National Domestic Worker Alliance
  13. National Education Association
  14. National Union of Healthcare Workers
  15. Service Employees International Union
  16. United Auto Workers
  17. The Minnesota AFL-CIO
  18. American Federation of Government Employees
  19. Utility Workers Union of America
  20. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee
  21. The California Labor Federation
  22. International Longshore and Warehouse Union
  23. South Carolina AFL-CIO
  24. NY State Nurses Association
  25. Massachusetts Nurses Association
  26. PA Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals
  27. Maine AFL-CIO
  28. The Coalition of Labor Union Women
  29. The California School Employees Association
  30. The Texas AFL-CIO
  31. The Oregon AFL-CIO
  32. The Washington State Labor Council.

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2020 Bill Highlights: Your Emails Needed

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Apple Care to 26, Patient Protection Act Bills & Insulin Affordability Bills

Follow Our Priority Bills on the HCHR Bill Tracker

You can follow all our priority bills in the HCHR-WA Bill Tracker. We hope this will help facilitate the broad support and advocacy needed to expand coverage, improve affordability, protect access and increase equity.

A few bills need emails and calls from you and your supporters to get out of committee right now:

Apple Care to 26: HB 1697

Here’s an opportunity for us to act on our principal that health care should be the right of all people. Please email, and have your grassroots supporters email, the House Health Care Committee urging them to promote health equity for our most healthcare insecure youth. This bill would reduce inequities by ensuring that low-income young adults who do not have the benefit of a parent’s or employer’s insurance could still have coverage for the health care they need until age 26. It would also would ensure that young people currently unable to receive coverage due to their immigration status would have access to affordable care.

Refer to ACLU-WA’s one pager for talking points.

Protect Patient Care Act: HB 2561 & SB 5542

Patients need and deserve full information to make informed choices. Yet across the state, hospitals and clinics are limiting the information and resources providers can give to their patients about reproductive and end-of-life health care services.  Such restrictions, which are often unknown to patients, disproportionately harm women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, rural residents, people with limited resources, and people seeking end of life care. For more info: HB 2561 and SB 5542 one-pagers.

HB 2561 is now the service component of HB 1608 and needs to get out of committee this week. We hope you will send emails of support to the House and Senate health committees and urge hearings on both of these bills.

Insulin Affordability Bills: SB 6087 & SB 6113

These bills are in Ways and Means awaiting Executive Action, Friday, Jan. 31st. Check out this Seattle Times Endorsement here, and check the Bill Tracker for the latest instructions for how you can help get these bills (SB 6087 and SB 6113) over the fence to the House. For background, see one of our sponsoring organizations, HCFA-WA’s website for more info.

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In Solidarity with the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Swedish-Providence Strike

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Dear Health Advocates,

Swedish-Providence strike begins Tuesday. 8,000 members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW plan to start a 3-day strike at Swedish-Providence at 7 AM on Tuesday, January 28, since management has refused to meet their core proposals concerning safe staffing and patient safety. Swedish workers are demanding a real voice in maintaining high standards of care for their patients, as well as the pay, benefits, and conditions in the workplace that will recruit and retain caregivers. Community support for the workers is critically important. We all have a stake in their success.

Why a strike? Caregivers at Swedish tell us they have seen drastic changes at Swedish-Providence, which prioritize executive pay, profits, and expansion above the needs of patients. Providence pays its top 15 executives over $41 million, with routine raises and generous benefits. Yet, frontline workers cannot keep up with the rising cost of living.

This historic struggle playing out across the state is the result of our fractured healthcare system. It is symptomatic of why we are fighting for a universal health care system that puts people over profits. 

➤ Learn More. 
Read this report on the attempt by Swedish to intimidate its workers and the $11 million it is spending to hire strike-breakers.

➤ Strike Updates. Things could change quickly. Strike news will be posted and updated at these sites: SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Updates: WebpageUnited for Safety at Swedish CampaignFacebookThe Stand — Monday-Friday newsletter of the WA State Labor Council➤ Support the striking workers. The union has sent this message to allies: Please support the workers by joining the picket lines January 28-30, marching with us on January 29 at 3:30 pm, and donating to the solidarity fund. We have a user-friendly social media kit if you’re able to share on FB, Twitter, etc.

For details on upcoming actions, see this pdf shown below.

In Solidarity,
Health Care is a Human Right – WA

HR 3 Would Significantly Lower Prescriptions for Seniors & All Americans!

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The House passed a landmark bill last week, that if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, would lower skyrocketing drug prices in this country by authorizing Medicare to negotiate prices on some medications.

“I’m so proud of the work progressive members, backed by grassroots advocates and organizations, did to ensure the Lower Drug Costs Now Act will live up to its name—and provide real relief to American families. Our effort to strengthen this bill is a huge win for the American people, and it shows what progressives can do when we stick together.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal WA-7

Here’s a summary of the bill from the Alliance for Retired AmericansPress Release shared with us by our HCHR-WA Sponsoring Organization, WA Alliance for Retired Americans:

Bill Requires Medicare to Negotiate Lower Prices and Caps Annual Out of Pocket Spending for Medicare Beneficiaries

Members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are cheering the passage of the landmark “Lower Drug Costs Now Act” in the House of Representatives today. The bill, H.R. 3, will lower skyrocketing drug prices by:

  • Requiring Medicare to negotiate drug prices on the 250 highest priced drugs, including insulin
  • Making the lower negotiated drug prices available to ALL insured Americans, not just seniors
  • Capping annual out of pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000
  • Using the savings to expand Medicare coverage to include hearing, dental and vision

    “Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and seniors are bearing the brunt of this burden,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Today 230 members of the House of Representatives stood up to pharmaceutical corporations and said ‘enough is enough.’”

This is a very big deal and there is a lot of great analysis about HR 3:

And finally — Well done, Mike Andrews and Robby Stern of PSARA! In its November newsletter, HCHR Sponsoring organization Puget Sound Advocate for Retirement Action published this article on Big Pharma’s campaign to defeat HR 3 in their November newsletter, scooping the story published December 3 by the New York Times about participation by some labor unions in Pharma’s campaign, despite very broad labor support for HR 3.