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Can Single Payer Universal Health Care Happen in Washington State?

Published on 11/13/2022

On October 17th, the Health Issues Team invited LWV and community members to an educational presentation about the Washington State Plan for Universal Health care for all residents. The speakers represented Health Care for All-Washington, a non-profit organization established in 2005. Their mission is “to achieve high quality, sustainable, affordable, publicly financed and privately delivered health care for all Washington Residents.” 

Speakers from Health Care for All-Washington included Ronnie Shure, President; Marcia Stedman, Vice President; and Board members Dr Sarah Weinberg and Paul Oldenkamp. 

Health Care for All-Washington is a 501(c) organization with two arms:

  • A political advocacy group that works with other groups and coalitions to influence legislators in Olympia on health care issues.
  • An education group to promote and expand Washington residents’ understanding of high quality, universal health care.

They discussed how the United States has the highest over all health care costs in the developed world. Over 40% of US adults have inadequate insurance; over 67% of bankruptcies are due to medical costs; over 8% of Washington state residents have no insurance; and the average Washingtonian spends 25% of their income on health insurance. 

Their solution is universal health coverage that would treat medical conditions and provide preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative treatment. Their objectives focus on equity in access: coverage that is high quality and comprehensive, and coverage that protects people against severe financial risk.  

Steered by the Health Care for All’s lobbyist, Cindi Laws, the 2022 Washington State Legislature passed 22 bills increasing access to healthcare. These include bills that:

  • cap prescription drug costs
  • protect access to abortion/post-partum care and contraception
  • provide home and home health services
  • improve the links between the medical and hospital worlds
  • broaden the scope of practice of non MD/DO providers
  • improve the Cascade Care plans sold on the state Exchange
  • establish the Washington Universal Health Care Commission
The Washington Universal Health Care Commission is key to designing and establishing a model for universal health care in our state.

Attendees were encouraged to participate by  submitting testimony to the Washington Universal Health Care Commission that illustrates the need for universal coverage. 

Personal experiences and thoughts are welcome and would assist the Commission to create a stronger state plan. All input helps the cause! 

Along with California, Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Connecticut and New York, our state is establishing its place nationally among leaders forging this new pathway.  

For more information on this effort: