Over the last few days a bill that will put Washington state on the pathway to implementing a universal health care system passed out of two committees ~with bipartisan support~ and is now sitting in the Rules committee, just waiting to be pulled to the floor by any ol' House Speaker named Frank Chopp.
The bill, SB 5822, would convene a workgroup to study and recommend to the Legislature various forms of state-based single-payer health care. It would also look at forming a regional single-payer system encompassing the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. If passed in its current form, the bill would also codify into state law the notion that health care is a human right. Which is cool.
A surprising variety of organizations back the bill, including Molina Healthcare of Washington (health insurance companies aren't supposed to like single-payer!), Doctors for America, Planned Parenthood, the entire City of Seattle, the Washington State Council of Firefighters, the American Indian Health Commission, the Teamsters Joint Council No. 28, and many more.
A few Republicans have even nodded in support of the bill, and not apparently disingenuously. When the bill passed out of the House's Health and Wellness committee last week, Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) said, "It always bothers me to continue to vote 'no' on these issues and it will continue to bother me until I see something...that is affordable, and that will cover many individuals," he said, adding that health care coverage was his second largest expense as an employer. "I look forward to that dialogue."
Rep. Mike Steele supported the bill when it passed out of the House Appropriations on Monday.
With two House Republicans, a health insurance company, and a whole mess of unions supporting the bill, the likelihood of House Democrats quickly passing this one through to the governor seems high. After all, funding a study to better understand a policy that has broad, bipartisan support and that served as a rallying cry for 2018's blue wave is the least lawmakers could be doing in this arena at the moment.
That's right, nothing in recent memory leads me to believe that House Democrats will fuck this one up due to cowardice or ignorance of their district's needs. Seems like this one will sail through. No reason at all to pretend like the bill doesn't exist, or to water it down as a proviso in the budget. I mean, you'd have to be a real big dummy to look at our current health care system—with its unconscionable inequities and its massive costs—and not want to study a way to fix it? Right?