Newsletter Health Care for All-Washington

Health Care for All-Washingtonn
An Information Pipeline for Members and Friends of Health Care for All-Washington
Fall 2014
One Payer States Conference
Attracts 300 Activists to Oakland
By Chuck Richards, President
It was a mild, but sunny day stepping off the plane in Oakland at
the end of August. Four of us from Seattle had flown together
and once we took the van to the conference center we began
running into others already in town. By dinner two carloads of
Oregon Single Payer supporters pulled in and found us as the first
plenary session began at the California Nurses Association in
downtown Oakland.
This One Payer States Conference proved to be the most
successful of the past five years. What was billed as the 2014
National Strategy Conference drew over 300 participants as a
joint event planned by the One Payer States network, Healthcare
NOW! and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer.
Much of the energy drew from the dialog between national
activists, labor activists and grassroots activists talking with each
other and listening to each others’ particular differences and
overarching common concerns. In addition, energy was
heightened by conference planners structuring nearly every event
to promote dialog instead of lectures, listening sessions instead of
predetermined solutions.
The first evening didn’t disappoint. As hundreds took their seats
the young Dr. Paul Song (PNHP-CA) open with “To defend
Single Payer we have to defend Medicare…. While Congress
continues to publicly criticize growth of Medicare costs it
privately restrains it from getting a better deal for Medicare
patients and U.S. taxpayers, through corporate welfare disguised
as privatization. How come when WellPoint negotiates lower
prices, it is good business and the free market at work, but when
Medicare tries it, it is government interference?...”
Dr. Deb Richter (PNHP-VT) then spoke by Skype on the current
state of Single Payer legislation in Vermont.
Continued on p 4
What’s inside
One Payer States……………...…...….1
President’s Message …...……,,,.,.... 2
Political action committee..............3
New and renewing members…….3
WHST resolution at WA State
Medical Association…………......... 5
Health Care as a Human Right......6
Health care news………………..….…6
Preregister for annual meeting….7
Health Care for All - WA
advocates for high
quality, sustainable,
affordable, publicly
funded health care
coverage for ALL
Health Care for All-WA
Fall 2014
P.O. Box 30506
Seattle, WA 98113-0506
Contact us at:
(707) 742-3292
[email protected]
President ..................Chuck S. Richards
Vice-President ……Sarah K. Weinberg, MD
Secretary ................... Don Mitchell, MD
Treasurer .................. Dana Iorio, ARNP
Committee Chairs
Budget & Finance…….. Susan Eidenschink
Comm.. & Publicity….….Martha Koester
Legislative Comm. ……..
Mary Margaret Pruitt, RN, MN
[email protected]
At-Large Board Members
Joan Bethel
Christine Clark
Jeannie Ernst
Ruth Knagenhjelm, RPT
David McLanahan, MD
Marcia Stedman
Hal Stockbridge, MD
Campaign Manager
Idris Noor
Newsletter Editor
Sarah K. Weinberg, MD
Reed Wacker
From the President’s Desk
by Chuck Richards, President.
With the first autumn rains falling, and campaign
workers knocking at our doors, we are reminded of
the short window ahead to talk with our legislators
before the 2015 legislative session begins.
In the 2013 legislature we had 24 co-sponsors and
supporters in the state House and Senate. Our goal
this season is to double that number. But the time is
short, and it requires you and your neighbors to sit
down with your legislators and ask for their support
of the Washington Health Security Trust bill (the
Step One is to volunteer to be the LD contact in your
district. Contact us at
[email protected] We need LD
Contacts to arrange in-district appointments with your
three legislators before they head to Olympia.
Step Two is to connect at the same time with our
campaign manager, Idris Noor, who will arrange to
call all our supporters in your LDs to alert them to the
appointments that you have made. They will be
urged to get in touch with you before the meetings to
organize the visit.
Step Three is to organize neighbors’ personal stories
for the in-district visit with your senator and
representatives. The personal connections we make
with each other at such times make it so much easier
when a sudden call comes weeks later that there is a
snap hearing in the legislature for our bill
We are recognized by others in state also working on
universal health coverage for our growing network of
supporters in legislative districts across the state. Our
goal is to reach voters in all 49 legislative districts
from the Columbia Gorge to the Okanogan, and from
the Blue Mountains to the Olympics. We believe
politics is relational, and the conversations we have
with our elected officials is a major way to persuade
them that the time is right to finally provide health
care coverage for all Washington residents.
Political Action Committee
by Mary Margaret and Paul Pruitt, Co-Chairs
Fifty-one Percent by 2016
Our task is to get 25 Senators and 50
Representatives to vote for the Washington
Health Security Trust (WHST) bill by 2016 so
that the WHST can be implemented by 2017. If
you can influence the three from your legislative
district, you can perceive that this is an
achievable goal.
Health care for all is a moral issue. Health care
is a human right. Every industrialized nation
except the U.S. has worked out a system to
provide health care for all its residents. We can
do this, too.
You do not need to be eloquent, well-informed,
or politically active to influence your legislators,
although all those attributes help. All you really
None of us doubts that the goal is wise.
need is to be honest and to say you are a voter as
Some considerations you may already know:
you urge your legislators to vote for health care
We need to introduce the bill every odd for all with a single payer plan. You can call 1year, as we have since 2007.
800-562-6000 to get your message to your
We have had as many as 24 supporters legislator. You can also use the website:
in previous years. to find your legislator and
This year has a special imperative for
contact information in case you would prefer to
our effort, as 2017 is the year that waivers under send an email. PLEASE choose one way that
the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can allow state suits you, and let legislators know!
innovation with ACA funding help. Our state
must have the organizational preparation ready
to go, which will take some time.
Even with the ACA, significant problems with
access and affordability continue:
Note—we are reporting new and renewing
In 2014 an estimated 42 million
members on a quarterly basis. Members
Americans remain uninsured.
from July 1, 2014 to
Over 100,000 AISD/HIV patients
September 30, 2014
nationwide have no insurance.
Sue Shaw
Richard & Geraldine
Lee Gresko
Employer sponsored insurance is
expected to rise to $9,500/year for 2014.
Peter Byers
Meanwhile health insurer executives continue to
Virginia & Eric Hoyte
Dorothy Nicassio
receive salaries from $8 – 30 million/year.
Rose Woodward
Jim Arnold
Alice Litton
The newest highly advertised drug for
Martha Koester
Karl Banse
Hepatitis C, sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), costs less than Dana Iorio
Eric Johnson
$1.62 per pill to produce yet the U.S. price is
Tore Nielsen
Robert Nelson
Joyce & Byron Harrell
about $1,000 per pill, and the course of
Patricia Melgard
Pat Vernie
treatment lasts 6 months. (Note that the
Nancy Stokley
Dorothy Johnson
company has already let it be known that they
Albert Snow
Henry Kuharic
will sell the drug for much less in the third
Marisa D'Angeli
Sidney Raines
Linda Olson
Rich Lague
Susan Eidenschink
Negotiating drug prices is still forbidden Jerome Holmes
Ruth Yarrow
for Medicare. Private insurers can bargain, but
Cyrus Appell
David Loud
Karolyn Burdick
they have not been very effective in lowering
Ernest & Ruth Solowan
Janice Ordos
drug costs for patients in the past.
Alan Greenbaum
David Israel Sandler
Nancy Streiffert
One Payer States
Continued from p 1
Richter has spent 20 years speaking to Rotary
Clubs and Chambers of Commerce. She argued
that businesses use systems to fix problems and
efficiency is a fundamental principle of business.
They can easily understand we are paying the
whole health care
bill anyway. It is
clear we are lacking
a health care system
and budget. If we
can get these points
across small
business will be
more willing to
accept Single Payer.
Then, Saturday
morning I had the
privilege of
introducing a panel
of dynamite
organizers speaking
on “Preparing a
state-based single payer bill for legislative
scrutiny.” Mary Feldblum, Health Security for
New Mexico Campaign commented that they have
been promoting a bill for 25 years. Some years
one house passes it; other years it is ignored. But,
meanwhile, they have won over 160 sponsoring
organizations. They travel the state speaking and
setting up listening groups.
talking to Republican legislators it is important to
lead with economic arguments.
Katie Robbins (PNHP-NYMetro) reminded
listeners that it has to be a state-wide effort; not to
focus on only metropolitan areas. The current NY
bill has general
language, the
specifics come later.
Dr. Mike Huntington, Health Care for
All-Oregon reported
how their hastily
drafted initiative
campaign failed and
set back the
movement there ten
years. If one goes
the legislative route,
one has to show that
the voters around the
state are supportive.
And our Dr. Sarah
Weinberg (PNHP-Western Washington and HCFA
-WA) emphasized the perils of trying to pass
complicated legislation by ballot initiative. And
general resolutions of principle passed the Seattle
and Tacoma City Councils, but resulted in naught.
Important decisions are made in committee
between the hearing and the vote. That’s when you
need a presence in Olympia.
A wide variety of panels and speakers filled the
weekend. Those attending from the twenty plus
states valued the opportunity to share experiences
and learn from each other. Informal discussions
Chuck Pennacchio of Health Care for All-PA also
emphasized that listening, engaging, and having
conversations around the state is essential. In
Annual Public Meeting of Health Care for All—Washington
Saturday November 8th, 1:00 pm--4:00 pm
Horizon House, 900 University St, Seattle WA
The featured speaker will be Jeff Johnson, Chair of the Health Care Is A Human Right Campaign and President
of the Washington State Labor Council. He will speak on the valuable role that supporters of the WHST have in
this 3-year campaign to get ready to implement the WHST in our state in 2017.
The next three months before the 2015 legislative session are crucial for WHST supporters to meet with their
legislators to ask that they co-sponsor our bill when it is introduced in this session. There will be time at the
Annual Meeting for people from various regions of our state to share their efforts to win single payer health
coverage for all Washington residents.
Please make your plans NOW to attend! Bring a carload of friends to discuss the importance of this 3-year
campaign. Free parking will be available for out-of-town members by prior arrangement. (See the pre-registration
form elsewhere in this issue.)
Lobbying the Washington State Medical Association in Support
of State Single Payer
by Sarah Weinberg, M.D., editor.
The annual meeting of the House of Delegates
(HOD) of the Washington State Medical
Association (WSMA) took place in SeaTac
the weekend of Sept. 20-21, 2014. Efforts to
get the support of the WSMA for single payer
in general or for the Washington Health
Security Trust (WHST) bill in particular were
stimulated into action this summer when the
Thurston Mason County
Medical Society submitted a resolution to the
HOD for consideration.
The “Resolved” conclusion of the resolution is:
“RESOLVED, that the
WSMA support
legislation in the
Washington state
legislature that would
create a single payer
health coverage system at
the state level, consistent
with existing WSMA
guidelines for evaluation
of legislation…”
The rationale for the resolution, laid out in a
stream of “WHEREAS” statements, did
include specific mention of HB 1085 and the
WHST, but since technically the bill doesn’t
exist until it is filed again in the 2015-16
legislative biennium, the reference to the
WHST was removed from the RESOLVED.
Spearheaded by HCFA-WA Board member
Dr. Hal Stockbridge, activists from both the
Western Washington chapter of Physicians for
a National Health Program (PNHPWW) and
HCFA-WA mounted an impressive lobbying
campaign. At our invitation, five physicians
came down from British Columbia to
testify before the Reference Committee
(where discussion of resolutions occurs) and
to mingle with the delegates.
We alerted Rep. Jim McDermott, MD, and
his staff arranged for him to speak at a
luncheon attended by 150 people. He did a
good job of promoting the idea of using the
waiver provision of the
Affordable Care Act to get
the WHST implemented.
The discussion in the
reference committee was
spirited. Several physicians
spoke the usual myths
about problems with
Canada’s Medicare, which
were mostly refuted by our
Canadian visitors. Still, it
was obvious that the House
was divided, without a
majority on either side.
As a result, the reference
committee recommended
that the issue be referred to the Executive
Committee of the WSMA for further action.
The incoming chair of the Exec. Committee,
Dr. Dale Reisner, promised that she will set
up a Work Group to study further what
possibilities for our state. She will include
physicians from PNHPWW on this Work
Group, although she cautioned us to
remember that other points of view will also
be able to participate.
While the resolution did not pass, it also was
not defeated. The WSMA recognizes that the
issue of single payer is not going to disappear,
and that efforts should be made to educate
Health Care Is a Human Right – WA Report
By Chuck Richards, President
opportunities for the public to help finance this
ambitious effort.
“Universal Health Care Coverage for All
Washington residents in three years!”
There is a growing movement working to
make this possible, and Health Care for AllWashington is in the middle of it.
The Board of HCFA-WA is discussing now all
the ways that we can support this effort, and
will bring a plan to our membership at our
2014 Annual Meeting on Saturday Nov 8th.
Our hats go off to our sisters and brothers in
Later, our supporters in each legislative district
Physicians for a National Health Program’s
will be notified so that they can participate in
Western Washington chapter, Washington
Community Action Network, and labor unions the various actions planned by the Campaign
in towns near them.
like SEIU1199nw which have spent the last
two years drafting an effective, targeted
While the Campaign is committed in the first
political campaign.
year to winning legislative support for
covering all Washington residents, HCFA-WA
The result is a new Health Care Is a Human
is doubling its efforts to sign up legislators as
Right Campaign. This alliance is now in the
process of developing a three year legislative co-sponsors of the Washington Health
Security Trust bill, which we believe to be the
action plan and a companion plan to build a
simplest, fastest and cheapest way to cover all
network across the state for winning popular
Washington residents.
support. And there will be plenty of
Health Care News
have guaranteed healthcare.”
26-year-old Self-employed Man Chooses
Penalty over Insurance Mandate
Comical Americans
(Reader Supported News, 24 December 13)
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel sent a camera crew out
on October 1st on Hollywood Blvd in Los
Angeles, asking passersby whether they preferred
Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. Many had
definite opinions: they liked the Affordable Care
Act, but they strongly disliked Obamacare. These
people seemed unaware that the two are the same,
just with different names. One woman even
agreed that it is important to have a well-informed
Carl Gibson, a progressive activist in Wisconsin,
did the math: he would have to pay $1,800/year
for health insurance with a $2,000 - $5,000
deductible in 2014. Even if he had a serious
injury, as he did in 2011, that cost him $6,000 for
surgery, he’d have to pay anywhere from $3,800
to $6,800 before this insurance would pay
anything. He figures that he’s better off to take his
chances and pay the penalty ($300 – 1% of his
anticipated $30,000 income).
He comments:
“No other developed country makes its citizens
endure so much financial strain just to have access
to a doctor when they’re hurt or sick. I personally
wouldn’t mind paying a few percentage points
more in taxes each year so I can see the doctor
without worrying about which bill I’ll have to not
pay in order to do it. …I bet most Americans who
can’t afford our current healthcare system could
alternatively afford a marginally-higher tax rate to
(Comment: We in HCFA-WA certainly have our work
cut out for us in working for a properly “informed”
electorate when/if the WHST gets on the ballot!)
Great Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Quote:
In an interview about Vermont’s Green Mountain
Care with its plan to do away with private
employer-provided health insurance in favor of a
single payer plan: “God didn’t create the fact that
employers are responsible for healthcare for their
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Health Care For All –Washington Annual Meeting
Featured Speaker:
Jeff Johnson, Chair of Health Care Is A Human Right Campaign:
The Valuable Role of Supporters of the WHST in the Coming 3-year Campaign
Saturday Nov. 8, 2014 1:00pm-4:00pm
Horizon House, 900 University St., Seattle
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