As the leader of Washington #insulin4all and a board member of Health Care for All Washington, I am working with our legislators to introduce a bill that will also allow our state to create its own generic prescription drugs.
Washington would contract directly with generic drug manufacturers to produce medicine for state residents. The public production of medicines like insulin could lower prices and increase access to life-saving drugs.
Although it may sound radical for states to make medicine, it’s actually not that unusual. California’s Department of Public Health has manufactured the only treatment for infant botulism since 2003, and in Massachusetts the state-owned non-profit MassBiologics has produced vaccines for over 100 years.
Last year, I testified next to an 8-year-old afraid of rationing insulin as we spoke in support of copay caps on insulin in Washington. I became friends with a mother whose daughter moved abroad due to the cost of medicine.
Washington has an opportunity to end all that doubt and misery while creating jobs in the pharmaceutical industry and generating revenue for the state.
On World Diabetes Day, November 14, please take the time to contact your representatives in support of this transformative step.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Sunday gave the state permission to stop using the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov, for enrollment in the individual market and shift to a private sector Georgia Access Model, starting in 2023.
State officials argue that the move will give residents access to a broader array of options from web brokers, health insurance companies and agents — which will have a greater incentive to enroll consumers in coverage. They estimate the waiver will lower premiums and increase enrollment by 25,000 people.
Advocates, however, fear that it could shift healthier people to less comprehensive, non-Obamacare plans and leave those with pre-existing conditions facing higher premiums for Affordable Care Act policies. Plus, consumers could unknowingly sign up for skimpier policies.
“Consumer could end up in insurance plans that don’t cover everything they think it would cover,” said Tara Straw, senior policy analyst at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
What’s more, the Georgia waiver would eliminate residents’ ability to go to a single website to see all their options. Instead, they would have to navigate a fragmented system of broker and insurers — similar to what existed prior to the landmark health reform law, Straw said. This would likely decrease coverage and raise premiums.
The waiver does not meet the federal requirements for approval, including covering as many people with the same affordable and comprehensive coverage as without the waiver, Straw said. This will open up the approval to legal challenges.
About 433,000 Georgians were enrolled in Obamacare exchange plans, as of February, according to federal data.
The Trump administration is backing a coalition of Republican-led attorneys general, including Georgia’s, who argue that Obamacare’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional after Congress reduced the penalty for not having insurance to zero as part of the 2017 tax cut law. As a result, the entire health reform law must fall, they argue.
“We need to have the Affordable Care Act, whether in its current structure or it’s been changed or corrected or fixed or being added onto,” Rivera said. “We need to have something for the folks of the United States of America. For us not to have affordable, quality healthcare, and be the richest nation in the world, that’s kind of disappointing.”
On Monday, Rivera spoke at length about the importance of voting in Tuesday’s election, as well as democracy writ large. He said it’s been “really cool” to hear players discuss current affairs, and he noted that the spectrum of political ideologies in the locker room was “huge.” The enthusiasm for engagement was echoed in a Monday blog post by team president Jason Wright, who wrote the team believed in “big, meaningful and comprehensive community activities versus a collection of small one-off ventures.”
“For example, we will continue to have a robust set of activities around social justice because the players on our team and our employees care about those issues,” he added. “Voting is one component, but there is much more we can and will do.”
Rivera reiterated Monday the importance of participation in democracy, saying that the thing that bothers him most is when people don’t vote. In past years, Rivera has gotten up early to be one of the first people at the polls. He loves the “I voted” stickers. This year, he and his wife Stephanie and daughter Courtney filled out their ballots and put them in the mailbox. On Tuesday, he said he plans to turn the television on around 5 p.m. and click between local and national stations to monitor elections.
“People always ask me: ‘Who did you vote for?’” the coach said. “I always tell them, ‘I voted American.’ I believe I voted for who I believe is going to be the best person for us.”
After his cancer diagnosis in July, Rivera has become an advocate for improved healthcare. The coach has grown more outspoken over the last three months, and he’s sometimes gone as far to call for “universal” healthcare. The message on Monday was more tempered, framed around the ACA, but the root of his activism remains personal. Rivera, 58, is now one year older than his brother Mickey was when he died of pancreatic cancer in 2015.
This season, the coach has been limited at times by chemotherapy and other treatments. He’s thought about others in the same fight during his time in the hospital, those who might not have a five-year contract worth millions.
“After seeing what I went through, and knowing what the cost has to be, you worry about the folks that can’t afford what I had,” he said. “I almost don’t want to say it’s unfair, but it is. These folks deserve every opportunity [to receive quality healthcare]. It just kind of struck a chord with me.”
On Monday, the coach mentioned an upcoming fundraiser for Inova Health System, the Northern Virginia hospital company where
Affordable Care Act: Trump keeps chipping away at Obamacare with only weeks until the election — and a Supreme Court hearing
The administration this week approved Georgia’s waiver request to provide Medicaid coverage to certain low-income residents if they work or participate in other qualifying activities for at least 80 hours a month. It’s the latest state to receive permission to require work as a condition of coverage, though implementation elsewhere has been halted by federal courts or state officials.
The Peach State, which has the nation’s third highest uninsured rate at 13.4%, is the first to seek this enhanced power to reshape its individual market.
Georgia and federal officials say that these efforts will make coverage more available and affordable to residents, but consumer advocates say they are the latest attempts to undercut the law.
“It’s a road map of what they would allow were the ACA to be struck down and were they to win election again,” said Judy Solomon, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
What Georgia wants to do
Georgia is not looking to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The waiver only applies to those earning up to