House Bill 1085 concerning the Washington health security trust, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton, received a hearing on February 1, 2013 in a room full of supporters of single-payer health care. The trust's purpose would be to provide health coverage for all residents of Washington. The benefits package under this legislation would be established by a board of nine members, who will eventually be elected by congressional district. The board would have many more responsibilities, including negotiation of rates with health care providers, and establishment of claims processing system. The trust under HB 1085 would be funded by contributions from employers, residents, and taxes. The bottom line is that taxes wouldn't go up, instead a certain amount from tax revenue that the state already receives would go to fund the health security trust. If this bill becomes law, the trust can go into effect only on January 1, 2017, if Washington gets a waiver from the federal government.
Our state is following Vermont and to some extent Montana, which are trying to create a single-payer system of health care. It is the most efficient, cheap and effective way of providing health insurance to people. Also known as universal health care, it is common in Canada, England and many other industrial countries. Yet, the U.S. is on the list of countries that view health insurance as a privilege, not a right. As a consequence, the country spends much more money for fewer services that are far from guaranteed for all. It is estimated that currently in Washington state one million people are uninsured. Health care costs are number one cause of bankruptcies.
Philosophically, absence of health care is a sign of inequality. Medically, it is under-diagnosis, especially of mental illness. In order to assure that everyone is treated equally and fairly, our state needs to adopt a universal system of health care coverage. That would solve economic problems and attract more employers, who wouldn't have to worry about ever-rising costs of medical insurance. HB 1085 is a great beginning to make sure that everyone is covered.