Another tragic story from our healthcare system

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Here is a story from a mother in Spokane, written up by Dr. Michael Huntington, who heard the story directly. She was asked if she would tell her story to the Universal Health Care Work Group on September 16, but her feelings were still too raw so it was submitted this way: 

Another tragic story from our health care system.

On September 10, 2020 during informal conversation prior to a One Payer States on-line educational session I spoke with a woman who lives in Spokane Washington. She told me about her daughter who just turned 26 and is losing access to health care insurance through her parents.  She does not know how she will afford health insurance. Her modest income may disqualify her from eligibility for Medicaid.

The daughter’s roommate died in mid-August, 2020 of COVID. The roommate had been ill for several days but was very worried about the cost of medical care. She adamantly refused to be taken in for attention. She died in an apartment bedroom as the daughter administered CPR.

I am a retired radiation oncologist here in Corvallis Oregon.  Before and since I retired I have witnessed how our healthcare system discourages people from getting care when they need it. I saw patients coming in with advanced neglected cancers because they were more afraid of cost than they were of a serious illness they were sure they had. The young woman’s story above is yet one more tragic piece of evidence that all of us should have access to health care without fear of financial disaster.

Modifying the Affordable Care Act or expanding Medicaid will not be the solution. Neither of those options addresses the underlying problems of cost and complexity. A true single payer universal publicly funded health care system would adequately address these problems.

Mike Huntington MD
Secretary, One Payer States
September 13, 2020

Street Sinks for People Experiencing Homelessness

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A Seattle Middle Schooler, Mehr Grewal teamed up with HCHR’s allied organization Real Change, and the University of Washington Medicine and Architecture departments to create handwashing stations and street sinks so that everyone can wash their hands. Read the UW Medicine story here and the Real Change Street sink installed at ROOTS Shelter story with the picture of sink installed in the University District.

Handwashing, always important, is even more crucial to control the spread of COVID-19. These street sinks are a public health innovation that protects everyone. Way to go, Mehr Grewal and team!

Credit: Courtesy of Anita Chopra

Submit Your Comments on the September Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting

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At the September meeting we got our first peek at how the fiscal study is shaping up by the Optumas Consulting team. We are eager for a lot more details on the assumptions that will be used in the study.

HCA and the Work Group are accepting public comments until this Wednesday, September 30th.

Links to watch the meeting are here.

Provide public comment by Wednesday, September 30th. Personal stories are important. We are particularly concerned about Washingtonians suffering the double-jeopardy of losing their job and their health insurance.

Please be sure to let them know if you support Option A:

Option A​: Universal Health Care (UHC) system with coverage managed by the state, with care provided by private and by public providers, clinics, and hospitals as it is now. All Washingtonians would be covered.

Option B​: UHC system designed by the state but outsourced to private insurance companies to manage, much as Medicaid is run now. It keeps the insurance middleman in the equation.

Option C​: The current system that strives incrementally to fill in the gaps and increases affordability for the underinsured, the uninsured, and the undocumented. It leaves us to continually scramble for ways to patch the system, offer equitable coverage, and make it affordable.

We believe Option A is an investment in our long term security:

The novel coronavirus pandemic, now coupled with crippling wildfires and smoke, has made it clear that we need a health care system that provides affordable health coverage for ​all​ Washingtonians. A universal system will assure that anyone who is concerned about their health, has COVID-related symptoms, or needs treatment will face no financial barriers to getting that care in a timely fashion. This will better protect us all in this public health crisis and the next. Such a system will also reduce the inequitable access that plagues our current system, where people from communities of color face greater barriers to getting the right care at the right time from the right provider. Just as Social Security was enacted in response to the Great Depression, these crises call for bold action, not austerity, and enacting a universal health insurance system is one such action that will not only save lives now but save money down the road.

Plan on attending the next UHC Work Group meeting Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 1 pm. RSVP link expected next week.