Opinion: Washington state’s latest universal health care commission scheduled to meet Nov. 30

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center says ‘For lawmakers to convene yet another state commission to push imposing socialized medicine on the people of Washington state might be called the triumph of hope over experience.’

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center says ‘For lawmakers to convene yet another state commission to push imposing socialized medicine on the people of Washington state might be called the triumph of hope over experience’

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

The state’s Universal Health Care Commission (UHCC) — created by Senate Bill 5399 in the 2021 Legislature and not to be confused with the prior universal health care work groups — will have its first meeting next week.

For lawmakers to convene yet another state commission to push imposing socialized medicine on the people of Washington state might be called the triumph of hope over experience, since every past attempt has failed. 

On Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., UHCC members will receive:

  • An orientation on the legislation authorizing the commission and its purpose
  • Open Public Meetings training
  • A review of the draft charter and operating procedures
Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

The meeting will be on Zoom, open to the public, and no registration is required. I will attend and look forward to hearing the commission’s purpose. Again. 

You can read more about the commission here. In sum it has the job of preparing the way for universal health care in Washington state — not questioning whether that is even the way the state should head — and finding a way to fund quality universal health care here. Prior commissions have been unable to do that, mostly because it is a mission impossible.

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, who will be on the commission, says universal health care would double the state’s budget. That’s problematic. The concept of universal health care sounds good to a lot of people, until they see the bill and the rationed care that goes with it. Our state’s recent experience with the long-term-care payroll tax should offer a taste of how unpopular funding full-on socialized medicine would be.

Since at least the 1990s, Washington state officials have created one commission, working group or study panel after another to consider whether Washington state should or can impose a universal health care system. Proposed ballot initiatives that set out to create such a system also routinely fail, as one did this year in its signature-gathering phase.

An even bigger problem, Rep. Schmick rightly says, is that “people’s expectations are off the charts. They think they are gonna get everything and anything from doctors. But it’s not gonna happen.” He’s right. Decreased quality, rationing of care, neglect of the elderly and high costs are what socialized medicine brings.

Instead of another state commission to study a system with unmet promises and that many people don’t want, lawmakers should work to liberate doctors, hospitals and patients to provide low-cost access to better-quality care. The best way to do that is to cut regulations and insurance taxes, and give patients more control and choice over how they access care.

My in-depth legislative memo on SB 5399 provides more about the creation of this commission, Washington Policy Center’s policy analysis of the idea when it was proposed and the troubles with socialized medicine.

Elizabeth Hovde is the director of the Center for Health Care and the Center for Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident. 

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Chris
Chris
1 year ago

Isn’t Hovde the one who divorced her husband so she could qualify for government health benefits when she was sick? Maybe a little research on that CCT?

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris

Hovde here. I was actually left by my husband in 2011 after a skiing accident. Luckily, I had my own health insurance that I paid for and that helped me out of that jam.
I am so glad I prioritized purchasing health insurance and didn’t need to rely on the government’s safety net. Thanks for reading.

Lloyd Christmas
Lloyd Christmas
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris
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