State-wide leaders urge Gov. Inslee for executive order to pay COVID-19 medical bills
For Immediate Release
May 4, 2020
Contact: Marcus Courtney
Seattle— Activists, community and labor leaders joined together in requesting Gov. Inslee to issue an executive order to pay medical bills for COVID-19 treatment of any uninsured or
underinsured person in Washington state in a letter released today.
“It is well-recognized that the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US is unexpected bills due to a medical crisis … As a country we stand alone in the world where someone could face financial ruin for contracting COVID-19,” wrote the petitioners.
Even before the pandemic, 500,000 people in Washington lacked health insurance coverage.
Rich Stolz the executive director of One America, a leading civil rights groups in Washington, noted the need for the executive order. “People of color and immigrant communities are on the front lines of the COVID pandemic and they are more likely to be uninsured. No one in Washington should be fear an avalanche of medical bills if they get sick from the COVID virus, including the essential workers that have continued to work so that the rest of Washingtonians could stay safe and home.”
“Most union members are fortunate to have employer-paid healthcare, but we know that is not the case for everyone in Washington,” said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which represents some 550,000 union members in the state. “We want to make sure no one has to worry about getting sick from the COVID-19 virus and then going broke because they got the necessary treatment. We encourage Gov. Inslee to sign this executive order immediately.”
With COVID-19 causing an economic crisis with businesses closing and workers furloughed, the newly unemployed will be at serious risk of losing access to health care. The Economic Policy Institute, a leading nonpartisan think tank in Washington D.C., estimates nearly 390,000 additional workers in Washington state have lost their employer health insurance.
“If over 500,000 people in Washington are without health care and worried about paying for COVID treatment, it creates a potential biological ticking time bomb as our economy opens up,” said Marcus Courtney who is organizing the executive order effort.
Others signing the letter include: Civic Ventures, CWA 7800, Health Care is a Human Right-Washington, SEIU 775, a UW professor, an Obama administration alum, tech workers, educators, former elected officials, and independent professionals.