RFPU-NW Endorses Representative Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act

The Resident & Fellow Physician Union – Northwest board is proud to join numerous other local and national unions and healthcare advocacy groups in endorsing Washington state representative Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 1976).

This bill would establish a national single payer universal healthcare system, bringing the United States up to speed with many other nations around the world to provide universal access to affordable healthcare. 

Representative Jayapal’s endorsement says it all: Today’s healthcare system fails to provide quality, therapeutic healthcare as a right to all people living in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans are uninsured, and at least 40 million more cannot afford the costs of their co-pays and deductibles. The quality of our healthcare is much worse than other industrialized countries—the life expectancy in the U.S. is lower than other nations, while our infant mortality rate is much higher. Yet the U.S. spends more money per capita on healthcare than any other industrialized nation. We waste hundreds of billions of dollars every year on unnecessary administrative costs, while healthcare industry executives measure success in profits, instead of patient care. The current healthcare system in the United States is ineffective, inefficient and outrageously expensive. It is time to remove the profit motive in healthcare, to resolve the inefficiencies and to guarantee quality, therapeutic healthcare to every person living in the United States.”

Many residents and fellows and our families have personally been uninsured, underinsured, or impacted by high healthcare costs. We have all seen the effects of lack of insurance, high cost to consumers, and profit-driven insurance decisions on our patients. Yet, US physicians have long failed to advocate for universal coverage. Worse, the AMA has overtly opposed nationalized healthcare for decades. Lack of insurance coverage has the most devastating impact on marginalized communities, including low-wage earners and communities of color. Achieving universal coverage is an issue of health equity, racial justice, and workers’ rights. Complicity with the current system directly violates our ethical imperative to be agents of justice in the practice of medicine.

No bill or system is perfect, but the current Medicare for All bill is a significant step in the ongoing process to achieve universal, affordable coverage and restructure healthcare for patients and workers. As physicians, we must advocate for all of our patients and our communities by demanding change to our disastrous for profit healthcare system and re-centering the patient-physician relationship. Public trust in physicians has been falling for some time – something we saw contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans during the COVID pandemic. Now is the time to earn back the trust of our communities by joining them in advocating for this important piece of legislation. Still, passing M4A is not enough. We must fight for a seat at the table to shape single payer health insurance and ensure that efficiency, equity, and evidence are prioritized in M4A’s implementation.

We applaud Representative Jayapal for advocating for the most vulnerable in our society, and encourage other physician groups and union partners to join in support of Medicare for All.

Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions about Medicare For All – National Nurses United

Help us get the PRO Act Passed this year!

As union members, we are lucky to work in one of the most unionized and labor friendly states in the country. That being said, there was a mountain of hurdles we had to overcome to unionize and we still face a huge fight in bargaining our contract and holding our employer accountable. 

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is the biggest labor reform bill our country has seen in decades. This bill promotes workers’ rights to organize a union and bargain collectively. 

RFPU – NW supports the PRO Act because we believe all workers, regardless of their employer and the state they work in, should have the right to collectively organize and bargain. 

The PRO Act has already passed the House of Representatives and still needs three more Senate co-sponsors to be introduced on the Senate Floor. Workers across the country are tirelessly organizing to pressure Senators Mark Warner (VA), Mark Kelly (AZ), and Krysten Sinema (AZ) to join as co-sponsors.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: 

If you are from Virginia or Arizona: we encourage you to call your Senators in support of this bill. All you have to do is call their office and say “Please Co-Sponsor the PRO Act.”

If you’re not from one of these states, but want to help: there are daily phone and text banks you can join for any amount of time you’re available. Reach out and we’ll get you looped in

Interested in learning more? 

YOU can help decide who RFPU – NW endorses in local elections this year!

It’s time to start to think about the 2021 elections! Local elections are critical to seeing progress in our local labor movement, and various issues that intersect with healthcare accessibility. RFPU – NW is committed to supporting candidates who will fight to make Seattle and our region equitable for those who live here (including our patients).

This year we will be supporting candidates for City Council, (potentially County Council), and Mayor of Seattle. You are our union, so we need your help! We are seeking new members to join our Political Advocacy Working Group.

We estimate that the endorsements process will be a 3-4 hour commitment, spread over two (virtual) meetings in May. As a member of the political advocacy working group you will assist with updating our candidate questionnaire, review the submitted questionnaires, rate candidates based on criteria that aligns with our mission and values, and make endorsement recommendations. The working groups’ recommendations will then go on to our full dues-paying membership to approve.

You don’t need to have prior political experience, just an interest in supporting intersectional, pro-labor candidates. The working group is open to all dues-paying members, including incoming ‘21-22 members who have filled out a membership card.

Fill out this form if you’re interested in joining the Political Advocacy Working Group!

If you want to partake in the endorsements process, please fill out the form by May 1st. We will then follow up with a doodle to schedule the meetings and get you in the slack group.

If you are unable to join the endorsement process, the working group still does work throughout the year and accepts team members on a rolling basis.

In solidarity,

RFPU – NW Political Advocacy Working Group

APPLY TODAY: Executive Board and General Board Nominations are Open!

If you’re interested in getting more involved with us, APPLY HERE: https://bit.ly/21-22RFPUBoard

The following are the remaining open positions:

Vice President: The Vice President is responsible for assisting with day-to-day operations for RFPU-NW, including managing the board. During negotiation years, the Vice President also assists the Lead Negotiator with negotiations and grievances.

Membership Engagement Coordinator: This position will be responsible for co-leading the planning, coordinating, and overseeing of social and charitable events of RFPU-NW in partnership with members of the member engagement team and RFPU-NW staff. This includes membership recruitment, social events, and social media.

Collective Action Chair: This position will be responsible for co-leading the planning, coordinating, and execution of collective member escalations in partnership with members of the collective action team and RFPU-NW staff.

Political Engagement Chair: This position will be responsible for co-leading the planning, coordinating, and overseeing of political engagement and advocacy, and lobbying efforts in partnership with members of the political engagement team and RFPU-NW staff.

General Board Members (multiple positions): General Board Members assist the Executive Board members with duties, in addition to leading the RFPU working groups. All General Board Members shall be involved in at least one working group. General Board Members should consider themselves visible representatives of RFPU-NW and work closely with the Program Representatives from their program to increase engagement with all union members.

If you have any questions, please reach out to any of our current board members or reach out to us at admin@rfpu.org!

Meet Our New President-Elect and Lead Negotiator!

Dr. Amy Zhang (Anesthesia) – 2021-2022 President. She will begin as President – Elect on May 1st and transition to President on July 1st. 

Dr. Amy Zhang (she/her) is a first-generation/low-income resident physician in anesthesiology. She went to Harvard for undergrad with a need-based scholarship, then obtained joint MD and MBA degrees from Yale. She feels strongly about advocacy, especially with regards to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Most recently, she has been speaking out against anti-Asian racism. Her favorite sport is swimming, and her physical abilities are similar to those of penguins- agile in the water but clumsy on land. 

Over the past academic year, Dr. Zhang have been actively involved in RFPU-NW leadership as a general board member. As a union leader, she strongly believe in advocacy for residents and fellows, and she plans to continue efforts to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion for all UW trainees. Dr. Zhang has experience in union actions, media and inter-union relations, and grievances, which would allow for a smoother leadership change.


Dr. Kevin Steehler (Internal Medicine) – 2021-2022 Lead Negotiator. They will begin shadowing in this role on May 1st and transition to Lead Negotiator on July 1st.

Kevin (they/them) is an internal medicine resident working their way to become an HIV primary care physician. They grew up in Erie, PA and moved to Seattle last year after graduating medical school at Emory in Atlanta, GA.

During undergrad, Kevin developed an interest in social justice while volunteering at an LGBTQ+ community outreach center in Pittsburgh, PA. They are passionate about addressing inequities in healthcare access, and explored these inequities via research among transgender/gender non-conforming patients during their MPH year at Emory.

Kevin first became interested in RFPU while watching last year’s negotiation sessions prior to moving to the Central District in Seattle. It became clear to them that the compounding credit card debt required to move across the country for residency must be a limiting factor for many residents in our profession. Inspired by the labor movement, Kevin joined RFPU as an intern, and served on the grievance team. In their new role as Lead Negotiator, Kevin plans to fight for more benefits in our contract so that residents from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds will be able train and thrive at UW despite the high cost of medical education.


Attn: Incoming Interns, Residents, & Fellows!

Congratulations on matching to UW and RFPU – NW! We’re so excited to welcome you all to Seattle in the coming months.

Now that you’ve matched, we encourage you to:

  1. Sign your membership card! We have a strong union because over 80% of residents and fellows at UW are dues-paying members! We have some of the lowest dues in the country at just 0.5% of your salary… and dues don’t start till you get paid! 
  2. Join one of our New Member Town Halls to learn more about our union! Open to everyone! There will be one on April 15th (7pm PT) and one on April 22nd (4pm PT)!
  3. Join our Buy/Sell group on Facebook to find an apartment (or even a roommate!), furniture, and more!
  4. Follow RFPU on Social Media to stay up to date on what we’re doing (you can find our accounts at the bottom of this email)

Take Action: Support SHB 1348

RFPU – NW has recently endorsed SHB 1348, Providing medical assistance to incarcerate patients. 

The majority of people incarcerated are incarcerated for less than 30 days. This bill updates current language around not suspending Medicaid for those incarcerated for 30 days or less. New language includes that a person’s incarceration status does not affect the person’s enrollment in medical assistance and that a person not enrolled in medical assistance at the time of incarceration will have the ability to apply for medical assistance.

The next public hearing is on Thursday, March 11th, at 1:30pm. 

RFPU – NW encourages our members to show support for this bill. There are three very easy ways to do so, by (in order of ease to do):

  • signing in PRO for the legislative record (anytime up until 1:30pm on 3/11)
  • submitting a comment (anytime up until 1:30pm on 3/11)
  • testifying live (registration by 1:30pm on 3/10)

All you have to do is:

  • Go to the Committee Sign In page
  • Choose Committee: Human Services, Reentry, and Rehab
  • Choose Meetings: 3/11/21 at 1:30pm
  • Choose: SHB 1348 Incarcerated persons/medical
  • Choose “written testimony,” “testify live,” or “position noted for the legislative record”
  • When registering, you may enter “Resident & Fellow Physician Union – Northwest” under organization affiliation because RFPU – NW has endorsed the bill. 
  • If you plan to testify live, please let us know!