2020 Year in Review
Dear AHW Community,
Wow, what a whirlwind of a year this has been – and that’s putting it mildly. I sincerely hope that each of you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during this unprecedented time in our human history. So much has transpired that it’s hard to write about it, so I will stick to what has happened for our small but mighty AHW community in the last year. To put it simply, we have been busy!
2020 Legislative Session – At our first annual membership meeting in Dec. 2019, we adopted a legislative agenda that included 7 bills, from Medicaid expansion to rebalancing WA State’s tax code. We felt so successful nearing the end of session, as it looked like 60% of our bills would pass! But, we all know that bills aren’t law until they’re law – health systems transparency failed at the very end due to a clerical error, and postpartum expansion for undocumented women was vetoed at the very last minute in response to drastic budgetary cuts due to Covid. Overall however, and given that it was a short session followed directly by a global pandemic, I feel incredibly satisfied with our legislative outcomes.
Pathway to Universal Healthcare Workgroup – In 2019, AHW was a key leader in the drafting and passage of the Pathway to Universal Healthcare Workgroup. I was honored to serve as a member of the workgroup alongside 36 other qualified and diverse stakeholders, including one of our very own founding board members Rep. Nicole Macri. We met every month starting in Sept. 2019, and just finished our final meeting on Dec. 9th, 2020. Through a bomb scare at the Capital and Covid 19, every member remained committed to the work in front of us, and the final report to the Legislature will be submitted the first week of January 2021. Three models were drafted, reviewed, and analyzed, including “Model A” – a state administered program that was estimated to provide statewide savings of approximately $5 billion/yr starting in year two. The final report will be posted on the Health Care Authority’s website and accessible to the public once it is complete.
Looking forward into 2021 – Covid 19 has illuminated the deep inequities and unsustainability of the current healthcare system, and both our state and the nation face the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression because of a public health crisis. Now is the time to invest in our public health infrastructure, not implement austerity measures. Given this, and utilizing the work done in the Universal Healthcare Workgroup, AHW has developed an omnibus proposal to be submitted to the Legislature this session that aims to both address the current need for affordable healthcare plans on the Exchange, while also laying the groundwork to build a state-based universal healthcare system and cover our immigrant and undocumented residents. This is truly a massive undertaking, and if passed, WA State would be the first in the nation to have a comprehensive healthcare plan for undocumented residents.
As always, we will be supporting other bills which will be voted on at our second annual membership meeting on December 18th. Our official Legislative Agenda will be published on our website with links to all the bills once they’re filed.
None of this is possible without the support of community, and this session will be no exception. In fact, in order to get a proposal of this size signed into law during a financial crisis, we will need ALL of the voices from every sector of our state behind us. Please send us your stories, connect us to your friends and small business partners, call and write to your legislators, and spread the word in whatever way you can. We truly stand on a precipice as a state and as a country, and I believe we can continue to be a leader in healthcare as we work to achieve equitable, accessible, affordable, and quality care for all the residents of our beautiful state.
In solidarity and in health,
Alliance for a Healthy Washington