Second UHC Work Group Meeting this Monday!

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Mo

The Work Group needs to hear from us! The theme of this second meeting is The Problem and Root Causes. There will also be a very important discussion about the Work Plan for meeting the expectations of the budget proviso by November 2020. Please come to Olympia and speak during the public comment period at the meeting =- or -= watch it on TVW live or recorded (except for the breakout sessions). There will be an online comment period until at least Friday, December 13th. For the agenda and other meeting info, go here.

Mon, Dec. 9 – Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting #2 – Olympia
1-5 PM, Capitol Campus, Legislative Building, Columbia Room 119
416 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
Also available for streaming on TVW, except during the breakout sessions
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Two Quick Actions – Please Sign Two SEIU 1199 NW Petitions

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Plus news from Enumclaw, Spokane and Tri-Cities

1) For Workers & Patient Safety at Swedish/Providence

We’re asking you to support the nurses and healthcare workers of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Swedish Medical Center, who are calling on Swedish to raise standards for patients, workers, and our community. Learn more and sign the petition. 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 have their benefits cut and cannot keep up with the rising cost of living.

UPDATE: And in a a truly historic development, 15,000 unionized health care workers in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the WA State Nurses Association and UFCW Local 21 recently voted to authorize strikes at Providence hospitals across the state if they do not reach fair contract agreements.

2)  For Neighborcare Health Workers

Hundreds of Neighborcare Health workers, including its medical staff, joined with SEIU Healthcare1199NW a year ago and are now negotiating their first contract. For 50 years, Neighborcare Health has provided primary medical and dental care to low-income, uninsured, and underserved people in Seattle. It is the city’s largest network of community and school-based health centers, serving over 75,000 patients last year. The workers are asking for community support for their efforts to achieve a more collaborative relationship with management in support of Neighborcare’s mission. Learn more and sign the petition. #MovingNeighborcareForward

WSLC’s The Stand also brings us news of other health care labor struggles in Washington state:
St. Elizabeth nurses in Enumclaw to picket, rally Wednesday

Spokane Sacred Heart nurses prepare for a strike as Tri-Cities nurses reach tentative agreement

Will the Road to Universal Health Care Run Through the States?

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Originally Published in the December 2019 issue of The Retiree Advocate, a newsletter of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action Education Fund.

Click here for a summary of HR 5010 and a FAQ Sheet.



On November 8, Bay Area Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) introduced the State Based Universal Health Care Act of 2019 (SBUHC or HR 5010) with 15 original co-sponsors, including our own Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith. This represents an important step in building the movement for a universal national health plan and Medicare for All.

The SBUHC proposal was first introduced by Congressman Jim McDermott
in 2015, and then by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in 2018 – both leading advocates of a universal, publicly funded national health plan. Indeed, Jayapal is now prime sponsor of HR 1384, Medicare for All, and Co-Founder of the Medicare for All Congressional Caucus.

The idea behind SBUHC as a pathway to a national plan starts with the reality that several states (including California and New York) are getting close politically to creating universal health care systems, thanks to years of grass-roots campaigns. But to succeed, states would need control of the federal health care dollars flowing to their states (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE and Affordable Care Act) as well as the regulatory authority to require participation from large, self-insured employers.

The second basis of the SBUHC initiative is the recognition that while
public and Congressional support for universal health care and Medicare for All are at an all-time high and growing, the health care industry and its Republican and Democratic allies will mount an increasingly aggressive campaign to defeat the idea in Congress. Even with Democrats in control of the White House and both houses of Congress in 2021, it may take more than one election cycle to overcome the opposition to a universal, public national health plan. Passage of SBUHC might well be an easier political lift in DC. But starting at the state level has its own advantages.

“I’m proud to support this critical bill, which builds on my state-based universal health care legislation from last Congress. So many progressive accomplishments have started at the state level and grown to fuel national change. Americans are fed up with a broken health care system that lines the pockets of insurance and drug company executives at the expense of families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing costs. Supporting state-based universal health care efforts will help build momentum for the grassroots energy we need to achieve bold, structural federal reforms through Medicare for All.”


– Rep. PRAMILA JAYAPAl,
from Rep. ro Khanna’s Press Releasing announcing the Bill

Indeed, many of our important national policies first started at the state
level. Think marriage equality, abortion rights, Social Security and much more.

This year the WA State Legislature created a Universal Health Care Work
Group to study how our state could achieve universal and affordable health
care. The Work Group includes representatives of consumers, labor, business, health care providers, community health advocates and legislators. It is to report its recommendations to the Legislature right after the 2020 elections. Now it will have SBUHC to consider as
one pathway to the goal.

Advocates for SBUHC in the health justice movement and in Congress are clear that SBUHC and Medicare for All are parts of a two-track, state-federal strategy. It is time for us to win more co-sponsors from our WA Congressional Delegation for both SBUHC and Medicare for All (HR 1384 and S. 1129), and to persuade our state legislators to support a universal and affordable plan for all Washingtonians. If we make this a winning issue in the 2020 elections, we can make real progress in 2021.

Help all Washingtonians Get Access to Dental Care

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We all know that good dental health is important to overall health, but insurance plans often don’t cover it. The poorest and most marginalized of us, and people who live in rural parts of Washington, often don’t have good access to dental care. Well, Washington CAN in coalition with the Children’s Alliance, Statewide Poverty Action Network and others, is trying to change that and they need YOUR HELP to do so.

ACTION NEEDED: Take this survey! https://bit.ly/WADental 

More information:

Washington CAN is part of a campaign to improve access for Dental services. We are encouraging people to fill out this survey to help highlight the need for Dental Therapy. Dental therapists have practiced safely and effectively in the United States for 15 years. They are rigorously trained in a narrow set of commonly needed procedures. If authorized by state lawmakers, dental therapists will expand access to dental care and make a positive economic impact. They can offer quality, timely care to rural, low-income communities and communities of color and provide good-paying jobs in communities where dental professionals are hard to find. Dental therapists are already practicing in Washington state, thanks to Native American leaders and state lawmakers. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community hired the state’s first dental therapist in 2016 to meet their community’s dental care needs. Lawmakers formally authorized dental therapy on Native lands in 2017. Now, we are working to get lawmakers to take the next step, creating good health and economic growth in communities statewide.

Getting responses from this survey will help us get our message out and convince law makes to prioritize dental health!

Rep. Ro Khanna Introduces HR 5010, The State-Based Universal Health Care Act

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Original Co-Signers include Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith 

HR 5010, “The State-Based Universal Health Care Act (SBUHC) of 2019  is a landmark step toward empowering states to expand health coverage to every resident. Recognizing the unique position of American states to lead the push for universal health care, Rep. Ro Khanna’s bill provides states with historic access to federal funding streams and regulatory flexibility necessary to implement and support affordable, universal health care plans.” – Rep. Khanna’s Press Release

For background, see HR 5010 Summary & FAQs

HR 5010 gets an initial boost from its 15 original co-sponsors, including Reps. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Adam Smith (WA-09) from Washington state, as well as many Progressive leaders: Rep. Blumenauer (OR-03), Rep. Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. DeFazio (OR-4), Rep. Garcia (IL-04), Rep. Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Lee (CA-13), Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Omar (MN-05), Rep. Pocan (WI-02), Rep. Pressley (MA-07) Rep. Raskin (MD-08), Rep. Schakowsky (IL-09), and Rep. Watson Coleman (NJ-12).

“I’m proud to support this critical bill, which builds on my state-based universal health care legislation from last Congress. So many progressive accomplishments have started at the state level and grown to fuel national change. Americans are fed up with a broken health care system that lines the pockets of insurance and drug company executives at the expense of families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing costs. Supporting state-based universal health care efforts will help build momentum for the grassroots energy we need to achieve bold, structural federal reforms through Medicare for All.”

— Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Ro Khanna’s Press Release Announcing HR 5010

Advocates from here in Washington state were involved in bringing this bill forward.

Medicare for All Would Cut Taxes for Most Americans

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Over a dozen Washington single-payer advocates attended the National Single-Payer Conference held in Portland, OR October 18-20.  The conference was sponsored by Labor Campaign for Single-Payer and Healthcare-NOW. Check out the conference, including recorded sessions,  here.

One of the primary messages from Mark Dudzic, National Coordinator of Labor Campaign Single-Payer, is that right now, as we gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving and the Winter Holidays, we need to inoculate people against the propaganda and attacks from the formidable opposition to Medicare for All and single-payer from the health care industry and their Republican and Democratic allies. 

Here’s an article, that addresses one of those attacks: “Your taxes will go up. It will cost you more.” Two economists argue the opposite:

Not only would universal healthcare reduce taxes for most people, it would also lead to the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation for most workers

Health care premiums, they argue, are taxes.

Although they are not officially called taxes, insurance premiums paid by employers are just like taxes – but taxes paid to private insurers instead of paid to the government. Like payroll taxes, they reduce your wage. Like taxes, they are mandatory, or quasi-mandatory.

Working and Middle-Class Americans spend between 30 and 40% on taxes and health care. Further, they point out that healthcare premiums are a regressive tax. $15,000 for health care to a middle-class person such as a secretary earning $50,000  is a huge hit to income and affordability as compared to $15,000 spent by a millionaire for the same health care.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman are economics professors at the University of California, Berkeley, and the authors of The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, from which the article is adapted.

Emmanuel Saez
Gabriel Zucman

Trump’s Ghoulish Threats to Medicare

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Pro-Corporation Rather Than Pro-Patient

Trump’s most recent Executive Order on Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors is the worst kind of evil: the evil you don’t see coming. Disguised as an effort to “save Medicare,” it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a giveaway to corporate insurers who sell Medicare Advantage plans. Now, these corporate insurers have the green light to cherry-pick the healthiest of seniors and others relying on Medicare, and to use all of their tricks to avoid paying the bill — narrow networks, no out of state coverage, high deductibles, etc.
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It is no surprise that Trump would go after Medicare. It is something he campaigned on, after all. But don’t be fooled by the spin! It is actually an attempt to weaken Medicare by allowing Big Business to compete with Medicare and charge more, and make a big profit while they’re at it — and it is subsidized by the majority of beneficiaries who are in traditional Medicare.

“… to the extent there are improvements they are all focused on the private Medicare Advantage plans that are by most measures overpaid compared to normal Medicare,” Paul Van de Water of the liberal think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said of the plan. “The Executive Order continues to privilege the Medicare Advantage plans and make some proposals that could disadvantage two-thirds of the Medicare enrollees.”

Vox, Oct 7, 2019

Read on for the October 3, 2019 Statement of Eagan Kemp, Health Care Policy Advocate, Public Citizen

Note: Today, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that would harm seniors and others who rely on Medicare by weakening protections for seniors in traditional Medicare and undertaking efforts to push more Americans into Medicare Advantage plans, where they may face denials of care and limited doctor or hospital choice. These changes would cost the government more while threatening the long-term solvency of Medicare.

It is unsurprising that this administration would mislead Americans with lies about “Keeping the Government’s Hands Off Medicare,” but that is exactly what this order does. It is just one more example of an administration focused on ending access to affordable health care, whether through sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, seeking to harm immigrants’ access to care or cutting Medicare. The uninsured rate has risen under this administration, due to its reckless and immoral actions.

This order serves only the powerful corporations that seek to profit off the health care of seniors. By continuing to allow Medicare Advantage plans to cherry-pick healthy seniors while leaving the sickest to be covered through traditional Medicare, these plans threaten access to health care for seniors and people with disabilities as well as the solvency of Medicare in the long term. By failing to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for price gouging and patent abuses, this order ensures that Americans will continue paying the highest prices in the world for drugs.

This administration seeks to ensure that health care titans can continue to line their pockets while seniors and working families struggle to get the care they need. As with so many other issues, the president’s health care agenda is bought and paid for by the corporate interests that profit off our broken status quo.

But the people are tired of getting a raw deal. That is why Medicare for All remains popular with a majority of Americans. By improving Medicare and expanding it to everyone in the U.S., Medicare for All would ensure that Americans can finally get the care they need when they need it, regardless of income.