SEATTLE – During the December 6th meeting, the Seattle City Council adopted a resolution in support of universal health care through Improved Medicare for All. The resolution begins with the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights’ inclusion of health care as a “fundamental right.”
Last year’s Washington State legislative failures, noted in the resolution, are spurring on more local actions to improve the declining health care system in our state and country. These failures included the Keep Our Care Act, which would have given our State Attorney General regulatory powers over mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare market. The lack of this power has resulted in Washington being second in the nation, only to Alaska, for faith-based hospitals, resulting in the loss of specific legal healthcare options. It also includes the failure of the Safe Nursing Standards’ bills supported by over 71,000 healthcare workers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the negative ramifications of families and individuals who don’t have access to proper healthcare. In Washington State, 430,000 have no health coverage and about 105,000 folks are uninsured immigrants who are ineligible for health insurance and the very few options that are available are too costly. The pandemic exacerbated this long-standing health disparity with immigrants and people of color disproportionately contracting, being hospitalized and dying from COVID. To have a healthy economy and society, we must provide proper access to healthcare,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
The resolution reviews the work done by the Universal Health Care Work Group (UHCWG), established by the Washington State Legislature in 2019. Their final report in 2021 noted that “Option A”, also known as “Model A”, would have an “Estimated implementation year savings [of]: $2.5 billion [and an] Estimated annual steady state savings [of]: $5.6 billion/year” in total public and private health care spending (p. 8). Model A was supported by 80% of UHCWG voting members.
The resolution includes international studies done on costs of health care, indicating that the U.S. has nearly three times the cost of other developed nations, all of which have universal health care. The U.S. also has worse health outcomes, including higher infant mortality and shorter life span than among all comparable economies that provide universal health care.
With this resolution, the “Seattle City Council endorses the people’s efforts to pass Improved Medicare for All through Whole Washington’s state-wide initiative I-1471 [and the Washington Health Trust]; United States Senate Bill 4204 (‘S. 4204’), ‘A bill to establish a Medicare-for-all national health insurance program’; and United States House Resolution 1976 (‘HR. 1976’), ‘A bill to establish a national Medicare-for-All health insurance program.’” The Council urges the Washington State Universal Health Care Commission to adopt “Option A” and pass a Medicare-for-All health trust and statewide insurance program now.