SEATTLE (June 12, 2018) — At Monday’s press conference unveiling Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s State-Based Universal Health Care Act of 2018, Washington State Labor Council Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson delivered the following remarks:
Thank you, Representative Jayapal, for your vision, passion for justice, and determination. You ensure everyone, especially the most vulnerable, has a voice and a champion in Washington, D.C.
The State Based Universal Health Care Act is essential, especially now with the Trump administration’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Without access to affordable options, people will go without preventative care or treatment.
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO represents over 450,000 union members across the State of Washington. Though most of our members have access to health care, we recognize that our fate is inextricably bound to the well-being of every member of our community.
We are part of the Health Care is a Human Right coalition. It is a moral obligation to ensure health care systems provide universal access, affordability, equity, and accountability. At the WSLC, we believe every person should have high-quality health care.
The WSLC has supported policy that guarantees health care as a human right for many years. During this time when basic human rights are under attack at the federal level, state level solutions are the first line of defense for our residents. In Washington, we’ve seen the number of insured rise since the advent of the ACA – more people have access to life-saving treatment, to preventive medicine, to the care they need. But the current system is flawed, and the Trump administration seems bent on decimating access, particularly for people with pre-existing conditions. Even in Washington, this is the second year in a row with double digit percentage increases in healthcare rates in our states individual market. When workers are struggling to get by, often times without an annual salary increase or at 3% at best (for cost of living or inflation), insurance companies should be ashamed for proposing to raise prices this year by an average 19%.
The State Based Universal Health Care Act will enable states to design their own solutions for improving the quality of life for their residents.
We appreciate that the Act exempts and protects Taft-Hartley (ERISA) plans. The stability of these plans ensure millions of workers are covered by affordable, high-quality health care. They are an essential part of a universal system of health care.
We know the Trump administration is relentless in its attacks on every social support system that exists at the national level. State level solutions can be innovative, and fast moving. They can be incubators for good policy solutions. We cannot secure a national system for universal health care right now — but state-level solutions can free us from the tyranny of national policies that threaten our quality of life. They can protect against the immorality of an administration that cares little for public health and a great deal for private wealth.
We urge all of the members of our congressional delegation to sign on to the State Based Universal Health Care Act. This is not the time to shrink back into a corner and wait and hope that time will pass and everything will turn out OK. This is the time for bold action to show that we care about the health and well-being of every person in this state (and around the country). It’s time for solutions and this Act moves us toward them.