Update: With Your Support, Big Win for Traditional Medicare at PEBB Meeting

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THANK YOU for the outpouring of action on this issue! Over 300 Washingtonians attended the June 30 meeting of the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) and over 40 gave moving public comments urging it to keep the Traditional Medicare option and halt conversion to 100% Medicare Advantage plans. In a short amount of time, the coalition formed by the Retired Public Employee Council (RPEC) was able to organize and apply pressure on the WA Health Care Authority and the PEBB to get stakeholder engagement on the proposal and to delay a decision until at least January 2022.

At its meeting on Thursday, June 30, the PEB Board passed resolution 2022-16, to postpone consideration of the elimination of the UMP Classic Medicare plan (proposal 2022-12) until no sooner than January 2024. Resolution 2022-16 specifically called out the need for engagement of stakeholders who would be affected by the proposal to discontinue the UMP Classic Medicare plan. 

 UW Retirees Relations Office report 

This is an important win — the first step in a year-long process to protect Traditional Medicare as an option for Washington state retirees. This win also contributes to the broader campaigns to protect traditional Medicare from being taken over by private, for-profit interests as we continue to build the movement for expanded and improved Medicare for All.

We thank all of the organizations in the coalition that RPEC pulled together on short notice to daylight the issue and rally retirees to speak out: American Federation of Teachers WAPuget Sound Advocates for Retirement ActionWashington Community Action Network, WA Education Association RetireesWashington Federation of State Employees, Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans, our own HCHR coalition and more.


Our State’s Public Employee’s Benefits Board Threatens Traditional Medicare Option for Retirees

We have some corrections about tomorrow’s PEBB meeting. PEBB has changed the time for public comment. 



WHAT YOU CAN DO — The Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB) is holding a meeting this Thursday, June 30, with a public comment period from 11:30 am -1:30 pm. RPEC is encouraging people to speak against the proposal to privatize all Medicare options. Most helpful: comments from public retirees currently in the Medicare UMP plan, active public workers who want that option when they are eligible, or people who have had bad experiences with Medicare Advantage plans. Be sure to practice so you can keep to 2 minutes MAX. There isn’t a registration process. Find the Zoom ink here under “Meeting Materials”  for June 30. We recommend joining the Zoom call by 11:25 am. PEBB seems to be new to public comment and so we might need to be patient.

BACKGROUND — The PEBB announced June 9 that at its June 30 meeting it would vote to terminate the Uniform Medical Plan Classic Medicare option for public service employees and retirees, which would leave them with only privatized Medicare Advantage options as of January 2023.

This decision was taken without consultation or consent of public employees and retirees. In response, HCHR member Retired Public Employees Council (RPEC) has led the pushback, demanding a delay of at least 6 months on this decision and a “rigorous community engagement process to include listening sessions with retired state employees who are currently enrolled in UMP Classic.” RPEC reached out to allies for support.

HCHR has sent letters to the PEBB and Governor Inslee advocating the same delay and community engagement. As of today, similar letters have been sent by the WA Education Association Retired and by HCHR members American Federation of Teachers WA, WA State Alliance for Retired Americans, and Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action.

The loss of a traditional Medicare option for public retirees would be serious enough for those directly affected. But it would also contribute to the larger threat of Medicare privatization by Medicare Advantage plans and the ACO REACH program scheduled to launch in 2023. At risk is the very possibility of winning improved and expanded Medicare for All to achieve universal, affordable, and equitable health care for all in our nation.


Note: HCHR-WA does not pay for, nor endorse advertisements on our website.

The UHC Commissioners Are Talking! HCFA Notes from June Universal Health Care Meeting

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Excerpted from the HealthCare for All-WA HCFA-WA June e-News report by Consuelo Echeverria. Watch the recording


In the June session, we got to hear from the Commission members themselves as they discussed Washington’s readiness to implement key design elements of a universal health care system. 

1. What should WA state’s universal health care system key design elements be?

  • Public health approach to a WA state universal health care system
    •  Jane Beyer, from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner,  stated there needs to be a universal entry point that includes everyone like a birth certificate 
    •  Nicole Gomez, with the Alliance for a Healthy Washington, suggested that we need to build simple, uncomplicated enrollment forms.
    • Rep. Schmick asked if Medicare and Taft Hartley are out, who is in this plan? Are the bronze, silver, gold, and platinum categories really necessary in a unified plan? 
  • WA State’s universal health care system must be trauma-informed 
    • Dr. Johnson, Washington State Office of Equity, shared how the Veterans Administration (VA) was able to cater to the direct needs of veterans by designing a system that included input from families, specifically mothers, and wives.  Go to women to get their input so the system is welcoming! The lessons learned in the VA can be transferred to Universal Health CAre.

2. Eligibility and enrollment 

  • While eligibility and enrollment has a robust system for AppleCare and qualified health plans there is no centralized system. This fragmentation has severe consequences in understanding the true number of  WA state citizens who have insurance and how much it costs. 
  • Joan Altman at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (HBE), shared that HBE is exploring how the Health Plan Finder can integrate DHHS and the 40 odd other federal  databases into their system, but the various technologies, some of which are 30 years old, make interoperability a challenge. 

3. Cost containment

Fee for service vs value-based payments (VBP)

  • Jane Beyer, emphasized with the significant consolidation, both vertical and horizontal, a VBP model disproportionately impacts small practitioners who may not have the ability to take on financial risk. Therefore there should be some sort of protection. 
  • Vicki Lowe, UHCC chair, shared the concerns from the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State that VBPs drive out rural practitioners leaving rural communities who are already struggling at further risk.
    “Significant differences in health care access between rural and urban areas exist. Reluctance to seek health care in rural areas was based on cultural and financial constraints, often compounded by 
    • a scarcity of services
    • a lack of trained physicians
    • insufficient public transport
    • No or poor internet”

4. Infrastructure 

There seemed to be agreement that the commission should focus on what is working well now and then add to it. 

5. Governance  

Sequencing of elements was discussed with  Rep. Schmick very importantly noting that if the public perceives this Commission is operating behind closed doors, it will be harder to convince the public of our conclusions.  Jane  commented that the phased initiatives are outlined badly, we need to clearly articulate a path 

The meeting ended with a call to address the short term and help folks. Do what is easy first in order to help the most vulnerable while figuring out the more difficult questions with ERISA, Medicare,  etc.


Note: HCHR-WA does not pay for, nor endorse advertisements on our website

📲 3 Quick Calls Keep Wall Street out of Medicare & Halt ACO REACH!

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NYT Breaking News: Medicare Advantage Plans to tens of thousands

The fight to fend off ACO REACH and stop Medicare Advantage fraud are two 🔥 HOT issues 🔥 right now. 

For the ACO REACH issue, please take 5 minutes to contact President Biden and Senators Murray and Cantwell to urge them to halt ACO REACH. Here’s a 1-page backgrounder


Your message:

“President Biden/Senator Murray/Senator Cantwell: This is (name) from (location).Please protect our Medicare. Keep Wall Street out of our Medicare and halt ACO REACH!

1. Submit a comment to President Biden on The White House website.

2 & 3. Call the Congressional Hotline: (202) 224-3121. Make two calls to your U.S. Senators Murray and Cantwell.

THANK YOU!!


Note: HCHR-WA does not pay for, nor endorse advertisements on our website.