SB 5222 – What’s Next

The Whole Washington Health bill (Senate Bill 5222) did not make it out of committee this session.

We want to thank Senator Bob Hasegawa for its introduction in January and thank you to Senators Karen Kaiser and Sam Hunt for co-sponsoring. 5222 is based closely on last year’s I-1600 initiative with updates based on feedback.  We listened to both voters and experts, like outgoing Senator Maralyn Chase, the Department of Revenue (DOR), and the Employment Security Department (ESD) to make funding provisions easier to implement within existing state frameworks. So, for example, the 1% income tax was removed; however, the transition plan that doesn’t rely on Federal waivers was retained.

The bill will be re-introduced to the Senate in the next session. In the meantime, we need a Representative to introduce a companion bill in the House. Socializing the bill, building partnerships, and finding co-sponsors will be a strong focus this fall.  Is your rep on the Health Care & Wellness committee? Are they a strong advocate for Universal Healthcare? Let us know!

Whole Washington also wants to thank all those vocal supporters who called their committee members asking for a hearing and our passionate demonstrators that went to Olympia to shout SB 5222 loud and proud! Thank you for showing up.

Campaign Update!

After working closely with outgoing Washington State Senator Maralyn Chase, the Department of Revenue (DOR), and the Employment Security Department (ESD), Whole Washington is proud to announce SB 5222 the Whole Washington Health Trust, sponsored by Senator Bob Hasegawa. This bill is based on Initiative 1600 and has been introduced in the state senate. With the help of Senator Chase, our Initiative Writing Committee, the DOR, and ESD revised I-1600 so that the funding provisions could be more easily implemented within existing state administrative frameworks; however, the essential substance of I-1600 remains.

It was announced by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner earlier this year that Health insurers will “propose 19 percent average rate increase for Washington’s individual market.” The volunteers and supporters of Whole Washington knew that we couldn’t wait another year to act, even before this information was released.

We still feel that urgency. Every day we hear about people declining ambulance rides because they can’t afford to pay for them, seniors cutting pills in half, and patients dying because treatment is too expensive. The time to act is now.

Please call your state senators at 360.786.7573 and request they become a cosponsor of SB 5222 and/or commit to vote for SB 5222.

Whole Washington announces the close of the signature drive for I-1600

The initiative did not reach the threshold of verified signatures necessary to appear on the November ballot, but over 100,000 voters signed that they want universal healthcare which sends a clear and urgent message to our legislators.

Highs and lows marked the months long I-1600 campaign. Highs included working with Progressive Coders to create a Savings Estimator to calculate personalized yearly costs/savings, garnering endorsements from key organizations like the Washington State Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters Washington, and collecting signatures at energized events like the March for Our Lives, Keep Families Together rallies, and Pride events across the state. Lows included the loss of a founder and beloved Chair Kathy Angel to cancer in the last few weeks of the campaign.

The campaign did not use paid-signature gatherers and had no paid staff. Even the volunteer campaign director collected signatures, easily 1000 alone.

Whole Washington wants to hear your ideas for moving forward and pushing further. We will be planning an event shortly. Stay tuned!