I called my family to let them all know what was going on and that is when I found out that there might be an insurance problem. Dad wasn’t technically admitted into the hospital yet. He was still in the ER waiting for an ICU bed. If he wasn’t sent up to the ICU then Medicare would not cover the ER visit according to my aunt. She insisted I call the hospital and make sure he was in the ICU before midnight.
My mother passed on March 30th. Dad is still fighting after 20 days on a ventilator. I have never gotten the chance to speak to either of them again. 20 days for Dad so far in ICU and 5 for Mom. Without their Medicare and Medicare Advantage he would come out of the hospital destitute. In that we are lucky but I think of the thousands of people in this country with no insurance during this pandemic and have just one more reason to cry.
Tracey C., Olympia WA, She/Her
Our Healthcare System is Racist
- African Americans have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites. Two point three times. Outrageous.
- Life expectancy by race shows an average of 4 – 11 more years for Whites, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans over Blacks and Native Americans.
- Even current technology reflects under-diagnosis and our unfair practices. See A Healthcare Algorithm Offered Less Care to Black Patients.
What can we do to right these wrongs? We must acknowledge the abhorrent discrepancy, listen, learn, and work to fix it. How? First, we can dig into recent history. Whole Washington is offering ways to see and show Power to Heal, a movie which tells the riveting story of Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution. (Longer description from the website below.)
“POWER TO HEAL is an hour-long public television documentary that tells a poignant chapter in the historic struggle to secure equal and adequate access to healthcare for all Americans. Central to the story is the tale of how a new national program, Medicare, was used to mount a dramatic, coordinated effort that desegregated thousands of hospitals across the country in a matter of months.
Before Medicare, disparities in access to hospital care were dramatic. Less than half the nation’s hospitals served black and white patients equally, and in the South, 1/3 of hospitals would not admit African-Americans even for emergencies.
Using the carrot of Medicare dollars, the federal government virtually ended the practice of racially segregating patients, doctors, medical staffs, blood supplies and linens. POWER TO HEAL illustrates how Movement leaders and grass-roots volunteers pressed and worked with the federal government to achieve justice and fairness for African-Americans.”
So here’s what we’re asking: Can you host a movie showing in your area between now and March? We’ll provide you with a script and all the supplies you need to make the showing a success.
- If you want to attend a showing, click the link below to see events in your area. Don’t see any showings on the map yet? Check back often as volunteers like yourself will be posting them in the next few weeks.
- If you want to host, click on the link, then the button in the lower right – Click to Host.
Fun pix below
The September Walkathons were a great way to up awareness for our initiative campaign and raise some funds too.
We raised over $4200, had over 30 walkers and almost 100 individual donors!
Another surprising benefit? Connecting with other activists. We found out about each other's passions and strengths and brainstormed ideas to get us to victory.
Our first fundraising campaign is underway, and thanks to you, we’re making genuine progress. Hashtags are going out. Donations are coming in!
Huge thank you to our supporters. Add your face to the gallery and let’s keep it going.
The tide is turning
On Tuesday, April 30th, the Rules Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives held the first ever hearing on Medicare for All. That’s right. The first ever. And we can attest, it was incredibly powerful. Whole Washington Campaign Director Georgia Davenport and Communications Director Jen Nye traveled to Washington D.C. to join other activists and hear the landmark arguments in real time. Witnesses laid out damning accounts of our broken, for-profit system, and advocates demanded real change.
From an overflow room in the Cannon building, we sat transfixed watching monitors. We chatted with members of Public Citizen who are encouraging citizens to pass local resolutions in city councils, school boards and other community entities. (Proudly, Seattle City Council was the very first to do so!) Check out their toolkit and push for passage in YOUR community–what a great opportunity to recruit signature gatherers and volunteers for our campaign! We also met members of the Be A Hero group founded by Ady Barkan that urges politicians to do the right thing. The right thing in this case? Pass Medicare for All. We exchanged contacts and swapped t-shirts for berets, courtesy of the generous Red Berets for Medicare for All.
We also met legislators, like Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts and Congressman Abdul El Sayed from Michigan that wanted to thank engaged voters.
Take some time to watch the hearing or read the transcripts. There is a lot to learn and know, including age-old tactics used by the opposition. For a deep well of inspiration, be sure to watch the testimony of Ady Barkan, an activist, lawyer, husband and father, dying of ALS. Due to the disease’s progression, he had to use a computer-assisted device to speak. He shattered our hearts but strengthened our resolve. There’s much work we must do!
Check out Things You Can Do Right Now to help move the needle.
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.
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.
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!