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Here’s how you can support fair health prices in Washington

OLYMPIA (Mar. 2, 2023) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is supporting the legislative agenda of Fair Health Prices Washington, an effort by patients, workers and employers to take on the high cost of health care with proven data-driven policy solutions.

Health care prices are out of control. There is something deeply wrong when patients must choose between going to the doctor and paying for basic needs like food and rent, small business owners struggle to pay escalating health care costs, and our state resources are stretched thin. Until we take on health care spending, the cost to patients, workers, and employers will continue to spiral.

There’s no single answer to solving our health care system’s problems. But there are new resources that can help us understand the causes of the high health care spending. We know where high prices come from – unchecked mergers and corporate consolidations, unfair contract negotiation practices, and big health industry players like hospital chains, insurers, and drug companies exploiting their power.

Through Fair Health Prices Washington, patient and consumer groups, businesses and unions have joined forces to support legislation to bring our health care spending under control. In the 2023 legislative session, all five bills designed to accomplish this remain alive, but need votes before the March 8 cutoff deadline to pass their houses of origin.

Health Care Cost Transparency Board (HB 1508) — Sponsored by Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle), this bill would increase the capacity of the state’s Health Care Cost Transparency Board to investigate where our health care dollars are going and take steps to limit excess spending by health care players like hospital chains, investor-backed provider groups, and insurance companies. See a fact sheet on HB 1508.

TAKE A STAND Send your legislators a message supporting HB 1508.

Fair Provider Contracting (SB 5393) — Sponsored by Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), this bill would restrict big consolidated health systems from anti-competitive bargaining when they negotiate pay rates, to make sure there’s a level playing field that rewards higher-quality, lower-priced providers. See a fact sheet.

TAKE A STAND Send your legislators a message supporting SB 5393.

Keep Our Care Act (SB 5241) — Sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), this bill would improve state advance review of proposed health system mergers and consolidations to ensure that affordable care continues and the needs of marginalized communities are considered. See a fact sheet.

TAKE A STAND Send your legislators a message supporting SB 5241.

Safe Healthcare Staffing (SB 5236) — Sponsored by Sen. Robinson and supported by the WA Safe + Healthy coalition of healthcare unions, this bill would promote safe patient loads, adherence to overtime, meal and rest break laws, and establish safe staffing plans for hospitals to follow. Under the substitute version of the bill, staff-to-patient staffing standards will be set by nurse staffing committees. If agreed-upon staffing plans are ignored or vetoed by hospital executives, the Department of Labor and Industries could step in to issue corrective action plans. See a fact sheet.

TAKE A STAND Send your legislators a message supporting SB 5236.

Improve the Drug Affordability Board (HB 1269) — Sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), this bill would support improvements to the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board, a five-member board created by the Legislature last year with the power to set upper payment limits on prescription medicines available in the commercial market. HB 1269 would increase the number of drugs subject to oversight and speed up the timeline for affordability reviews and upper payment limits. See a fact sheet.

TAKE A STAND — Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your State Senator urging their support for HB 1269.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!