The Pathway to Universal Health Care Bill (SB 5822/HB 1877)


Hearing Monday, Feb. 11, at 1:30 pm in Olympia!

ACTION ALERT: Hearing in the Senate Health & Long-Term Committee, Monday, February 11th at 1:30 pm. More info & RSVP here. Legislators need to hear from you!
Snowed in? Email testimony here.

The Pathway to Universal Health Care bill would set the table for universal health care while we work for Congressional passage of the State-Based Universal Health Care Act, hopefully as soon as 2021. Here’s the lowdown on the Pathway bill:

• The Companion bill, SB 5822, is prime sponsored by Senator Emily Randall (26th LD)

• HB 1877 is prime sponsored by Representative Nicole Macri (43rd LD)

This bill starts by declaring that health care is a human right. The intent is to be ready to act as soon as 2021 if we can win federal policy  to support the development of universal and affordable health coverage systems at the state level. California, New York and several other states — maybe including Washington! — are already politically close to taking this step. Winning universal state plans will help us build the movement for a universal national plan like Medicare for All.

The bill specifically mentions the federal bill Congresswoman Jayapal introduced in 2018, the State-Based Universal Health Care Act (HR 6097), soon to be re-introduced and led by Rep. Ro Khanna of California. This proposal would build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make available federal funding and regulatory authority to achieve universal health care coverage in a state or group of states.

SB 5822/ HB 1877 sets up a Work Group of health care  stakeholders to study the issue and come up with recommendations to the legislature by 11/15/20 on a universal health care system for our state.

Several specific criteria are included in the charge to the Work Group: Options to increase coverage and access; transparency to best manage and lower costs; innovations to promote quality; options for a just transition; possible collaboration with neighbor states; and options for revenue and financing (including contracting for an actuarial analysis if needed).

We are lobbying for two amendments:

1. Section 2(1), add “Community health care advocates” to the list of stakeholders. This will be an important voice among the many powerful interest groups that need to be at the table. We are fortunate to have a well-developed advocacty sector to work with here!

2. Section 2 (2) as follows” “The Work Group must study and make recommendations on the universal health care system that includes “publicly funded, publicly administered, publicly and privately delivered health care…” This point aims at the importance of public administration of health plans since so many of our difficulties flow from the fragmented system of private plans; it also acknowledges that the public sector health care providers — federal, state and local — will continue to play important roles in a universal system.

More Info

To see the Senate Bill 5822 in its entirety and to submit a comment to your legislators, go here. Companion Bill HB 1877 is here.

To watch Rep. Macri’s 12-minute speech about the bill go here.


Thanks to Sherry Weinberg, PNHP-WW & HCFA-WA and David Loud, PSARA for contributions.

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