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Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:45 AM

Support single payer in Olympia Friday Feb 1st!

Call to Action!

Support WHST-Fri. Feb 1st (1:30 pm) in Olympia!!
Single Payer Health Care Bill-(HB) 1085

The most hopeful aspect of Obama's Affordable Care Act is that it allows all 50 states to request a waiver to the Affordable Care Act's Exchanges in 2017. With a waiver, a state can implement a state-based single-payer program, if it meets or exceeds the requirements of the Exchanges.

Our WA state has had a very comprehensive, well-written proposal for Single Payer Health Care for over 20 years. The legislation is called the Washington Health Security Trust (WHST). The original WHST proposal was written by members of Health Care for All – Washington, http://www.healthcareforallwa.org/.

Now there is a very exciting new breakthrough in WA. This Single Payer Health Care bill has been introduced in the Washington State 2013 Legislature. The bill number is House Bill (HB) 1085, and has been revised to be compliant to the Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

We have just had news that a hearing on HB 1085 is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 1st in Olympia at 1:30 pm. Our goal is to pack the hearing room with supporters. This is extremely important, since legislators have indicated they need to see a huge number of supporters for this bill, for them to take it seriously. We need them to pass the bill, so it can proceed to the next step in the legislative process.

We need your support! Join members of HCFA, PNHP and other concerned citizens and come to Olympia for the hearing. If you are unable to attend, please contact your state representative, and tell them you want them to support HB 1085, the WHST, which will bring affordable health care to all WA residents.

http://www.healthcareforallwa.org/

(Wating to hear about the right email to send written testimony to if you can't be there.)

11 replies, 1716 views

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:04 AM

1. I know several of the sponsors and will contact people this week to see if they can attend oir email

Wow, less than a week to get ready.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:40 PM

2. Excellent--I've added updated info

Washington Health Security Trust – Single Payer Health Care Bill

A Single Payer Health Care bill has been introduced in the Washington State 2013 Legislature. The bill number is House Bill (HB) 1085. The legislation is called the Washington Health Security Trust (WHST). The original WHST proposal was written by members of Health Care for All – Washington, http://www.healthcareforallwa.org/. This proposal has been revised in HB 1085 to be compliant to the Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which makes WHST ready for a request to the Federal Government for use as a health care plan in Washington State in 2017.

A hearing on HB 1085 has been scheduled on Friday, Feburary 1st at 1:30 pm at House Hearing Rm B, John L. O'Brien Building, Olympia, WA. The Progress on this bill can be found at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/. Place 1085 in the box that appears, then click on SEARCH. That website will enable you to read the original bill, too.

The goal is to pack the hearing room. This is extremely important since legislators have indicated they need to see a huge number of supporters for this bill to take it seriously and pass it in the House Health and Wellness Committee so it can be moved to the next step in the legislative process.

Please make every effort to go to the WHST hearing. You most likely know of others who are supportive of Single Payer Health Care, so please give them this information.

If you can’t go to the hearing, please submit written testimony. This can be a simple note of support directly to your legislators, or if you want to write something more detailed to be submitted in a packet to the House health care committee, please forward a copy to Michael Jung at michaelgjung@gmail.com

For more information, or to arrange carpooling in the Seattle area, contact info@healthcareforallWA.org To carpool from Whatcom and Skagit counties, contact Aileen Satushek at aileensatushek@prodigy.net or360-398-2295.


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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 07:02 PM

3. Thanks...

I'll be contacting my rep for sure. I'd love to be there in person and may try to do so.....

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Response to The empressof all (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:15 AM

4. If you can't, please write up your story and send it to Michael

In fact, that would be a good idea anyway, and not everyone will get to testify in person.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:35 AM

5. A note from one of the coauthors of the bill

Washington Health Security Trust, revised 2013

This is to inform our supporters of the introduction of our revised Single Payer bill in the Washington State legislature on Mon. Jan 14th 2013. The text of our bill can be found on the legislative website as “Concerning the Washington health security trust” (HB 1085/SB 5224). Follows is a brief overview:


The text of HB 1085 is now available through the legislature's website. It has definitely been modified to make it PPACA compliant.”

First, there is a Section 40 that is entirely new. It requires the Health Care Authority (HCA) to apply to the feds for a waiver by 1/1/17. Between now (well, passage of this bill) and then, the HCA is required to make annual progress reports on the preparation of the application starting 11/15/13.

Section 41, which must also be new, states that following the granting of a federal waiver under PPACA, sections 2-18, 20, 21, and 35-37 take effect. (Essentially, the various time schedules referred to in the WHST start up.) Sect6ions 22-24 start the second Jan. 1 after the waiver is received, and sections 19, 25-34, and 38 start the second May 15.

Section 11 has had a clause added that requires the WHST Board to make sure its benefits package is sufficient to meet the minimal Essential Health Benefits of PPACA. I note that the requirement to include co-pays for outpatient and ER visits has been left in for those with incomes >150% FPL, with a cap of $500 (the only actual dollar number in the whole bill).

Section 11 (6) is about developing dental coverage to be included in the benefits package by 1/1/15, which is the only specific date in the bill outside of the Section 40 dates referring to applying for a PPACA waiver.

The funding mechanism is the same as in the original WHST, except that all dollar amounts have been left for the Board and the legislature to come up with once the WHST goes into effect.

Finally, Section 43, specifically requires that any rules created under the WHST must meet any federal requirements for the WHST to receive federal funds….

My reading of HB 1085 should put to rest any fears HCFA-WA has that our WHST has been altered in a way to affect its single-payer intent or effect. We should be proud to support this legislation - if we got it through the legislature and the Governor, our state would be in the forefront of the single-payer movement.

Sherry Weinberg, vice-president
HCFA-WA

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 03:00 AM

6. I have to be in Portland that day, and so am submitting written testimony

Testimony Regarding HB 1085 to Establish Single Payer Health Care in the State of Washington

I currently reside in the 34th legislative district, and I advocate that the state legislature pass HB 1085/SB 5224 to implement single payer health care in Washington State.

Laws and budgets reflect our moral values as citizens. Our civic values are rooted in the traditional idea that we are all created equal, and that we institute governments to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The very concept of for-profit health insurance flatly contradicts these values. Insuring cars is morally acceptable because cars are objects designed for human use, as is making the decision to avoid investing in collision insurance for your older car. It can never be right to treat other human beings as objects for our use—who wants to volunteer to be the human equivalent of a beater car? Yet this is what insurance companies currently do—serve as arbiters of who does and who does not deserve to be treated as a worthy human being in the area of health care.

From an economic standpoint, a comparatively small number of people use most health care dollars, just as a fairly small number of people directly use the dollars we appropriate for fire departments. (And does anyone think that competing fire departments would deliver better and cheaper fire protection?) In every age demographic, 5% of that demographic accounts for 50% of all health costs, and 15% for 85% of all costs. Insurance companies exist solely to divert money paid by the relatively healthy 85% away from paying for the health care of the sick minority. That is why in Massachusetts (after four years of the health care reform on which the Affordable Care Act was modeled) medical bankruptcies are still at 50% of all bankruptcies, albeit down from 59%. As with medical bankruptcy throughout the country, 70% or more of these families had insurance. Though overpriced underinsurance is the norm there, there is little public outcry from the healthy 85%, who have purchased the illusion that they will get health care if anything serious happens to them.

Thankfully the ACA will eliminate denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions, but unfortunately it still reinforces unacceptable moral values—namely that it is OK to divide our population into Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. Presuming that you can even afford to be more than Bronze person, how can you know what insurance level you might need in the future? The opinions of the healthy 85% as to the potential usefulness of their health insurance are worth what their opinions about how good their fire extinguishers are—that is to say, not a lot.

And how sustainable will the insurance exchanges be? To quote a paper put out in November 2010 (attached) by the Washington State Health Care Authority, "the Exchange would need to act on behalf of a critical mass of people….at least 20 percent of the insured population that does not already receive Medicaid or Medicare. Only a pool of this size could attract serious bids from insurers. To amass such a large purchasing pool, Congress might need to require that all government employees, or all employers with fewer than 100 employees, join the pool."

It is not likely that this level of participation can be attained unless we forgo participating in the Federal Basic Health Option, provisions for which were specifically added to ACA by Senator Cantwell precisely so that WA State could use this option. Recall also that family income has been declining since 2000 and that the “new normal” level of unemployment is around 8% (a number which itself vastly underestimates actual unemployment), making many more people eligible for expanded Medicaid. In addition, retirees on Medicare are growing in number. Neither of these populations will be in the exchanges.

Very aggressive advertising will be necessary to inform people of the options in the exchange. There will be federal funding for this, to the tune of about $120 million—not a single dime of which will be used to pay for actual health care. More federal money will be used to fund operations until 2015. After that, these administrative costs will be downloaded to Washington State taxpayers through new fees assessed on the health policies sold through the exchange. Adding even more fees to overpriced underinsurance is going to be extremely unpopular.

Advocates of single payer health care are divided on the issue of whether the ACA leads toward or away from single payer. I think that it leads toward, and that the Washington State legislature should continue implementing the exchanges. For one thing, the federal subsidies, while they last, will make the exchanges temporarily viable, and that will help at least some people. For another, the experience and competence of the board members working on the exchanges can be then directly transferred to implementing single payer at the state level. This will actually be vastly easier administratively, however more difficult politically.

A final note to the inevitable whiners about a “government takeover of health care”—the government took over my health care when I turned 65, and I couldn’t be happier. I would gladly join most other Medicare enrollees in making those who would force us into a voucher program pay a very serious political price for doing that. Medicare as it is lacks the cost controls that could be achieved by global budgeting and drug price negotiations, but even so traditional Medicare still much cheaper to administer than Medicare Advantage (which is for the most part a huge rip-off of taxpayers by private insurance companies), and its costs are rising far more slowly.

Every other developed country in the world has universal health care, at a per capita cost half of what we pay here. What we get for paying twice as much is 40,000+ people per year dying because they can’t afford health care, massive levels of medical bankruptcy, and health statistics that are among the worst in the developed world. How long are we going to let a single industry parasitize all other industries (and government bodies at all levels to boot), thus unnecessarily weakening our economy? EVERYBODY IN! NOBODY OUT!

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Response to eridani (Reply #6)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 01:15 PM

11. What an awesome letter.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 05:23 AM

7. Testimony from a doctor in rural eastern WA

Jan. 29, 2013

Dear Representative Shelly Short:

Thank you for your work on healthcare. While I am not familiar with all of the issues in the legislation that you will be reviewing this week, I would ask that you consider my perspective. I am one of your supportive constituents who has worked hard to improve the lives of those in northeastern Washington who suffer without access to affordable healthcare insurance. There are many in the northeast corner of our state who are working to support their families but cannot afford the medical costs. As a result, they make difficult decisions with their own health and the health of their families. As you are aware, my partners and I have scrambled to try to make care available to all in our communities by creating a community health fund for the uninsured, repackaging ourselves as a rural health clinic, providing care to the uninsured by a sliding fee scale, and piloting a direct care program to provide global primary care at $57 per month. Finally, we did the unthinkable and sold our clinic. We offered ourselves to Providence Health Systems, not because we thought they could provide better health care through us, but because we could see the handwriting on the wall. Small healthcare provider groups like ours who are committed to care for the whole community are doomed to an agonizing, gut wrenching squeezing blood from a turnip kind of death as the government attempts to control costs on the backs of physicians and healthcare workers. The system we have is broken.

No rational person would have suggested that we invent a system where some people (the wealthy and well employed) have healthcare and pay for healthcare for others (through their taxes) and pay an additional premium for the uninsured (through higher insurance premiums to cover the costs of the uninsured); another group of Americans get free healthcare but contribute nothing in taxes to pay for others (Medicaid); and others pay taxes to help others get healthcare but have nothing for their own families (the working uninsured). No one would suggest that this is a just system. It must change.

I know this is a difficult process. May I, as one who has walked through this morass for more than a couple of decades, suggest a few principles to help guide your decisions.

1. Every American should have at least a basic plan. Every child, every mother, every citizen of this country gets sick. There should be no barriers for basic care for every American.

2. The basic plan should have the essential programs covered, with an emphasis on high impact items that make the most difference. Maternal and child care, primary health care, vaccines, contraception, hospital care, generic medicines, prevention and wellness.

3. Primary care is still a good value. The high costs of healthcare have to do with high tech, highly specialized, high intervention care. Having a trusted healthcare provider who knows you and can advise you about healthcare decisions is money well spent and is valued by our patients.

4. Staying healthy, an emphasis on wellness, prevention and personal responsibility are crucial to this discussion and must be aligned with incentives to save dollars (experts say we can save 50-70% of healthcare dollars if we just put into practice what we already know) yet no one is talking about this in the national debate. Let’s put prevention on the table and save money where it makes the most sense.

5. Stop saving money on the backs of the people who work hard to keep us healthy. Fund the programs appropriately, and where necessary, tax the negative health choices we make that increase disease- then put that tax money into health care. Bring back the tobacco settlement and put it into healthcare where it should be.

6. Choose the Chevy plan, not the Cadillac. The problem with the Basic Health Plan of Washington wasn’t the concept. It was the fact that the legislature allowed it to be turned into the Megamonstrosity Health Plan of Washington. If everyone has a basic plan, those who can afford additional coverage can still purchase it if they wish.

7. As Americans we love our freedoms. But when those freedoms cost the rest of society, there should be an appropriate expense which the individual bears, and that expense should reflect the cost of those choices to our society. Those tax dollars should then go to healthcare to offset the cost to society and to help the individual count the real cost of their choices.

Those are my opinions. I look forward to hearing from you. I would be happy to discuss this issue further at your convenience if you so desire. It is my hope that you will help our legislature create a just healthcare system for every person, where each person is valued not for their money or lack thereof, not for their job or position or lack thereof, but because they are a part of us, they are our neighbors and their suffering makes us all poorer. I would challenge each of the legislators to go without insurance this coming year and give their plans to someone else who can’t afford it. I’ll join you. See how life changes when we don’t have insurance. It might make a difference in the priorities of our legislature.



Sincerely,

Barry J. Bacon, MD
Providence Northeast Washington Medical Center, Colville WA 99114
baconbarry@juno.com


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Response to eridani (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:42 AM

8. Video of testimony here

http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2013020032

it includes all the other bills before 1085, but HCFA-WA will be editing it and putting up clips on its website.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 06:15 AM

9. Now ask them to vote it out of the health care committee and send it to the appropriations committee

Emails of House health care committee

eileen.cody@leg.wa.gov; laurie.jinkins@leg.wa.gov; joe.schmick@leg.wa.gov; mike.hope@leg.wa.gov; jan.angel@leg.wa.gov; judy.clibborn@leg.wa.gov; tami.green@leg.wa.gov; paul.harris@leg.wa.gov; matt.manweller@leg.wa.gov; jim.moeller@leg.wa.gov; dawn.morrell@leg.wa.gov; marcus.riccelli@leg.wa.gov; jay.rodne@leg.wa.gov; charles.ross@leg.wa.gov; shelly.short@leg.wa.gov; steve.tharinger@leg.wa.gov; kevin.vandewege@leg.wa.gov

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