Universal Healthcare: By Bill or By Ballot

My speech at the Universal Healthcare Rally in Olympia

Andre Stackhouse
4 min readMar 23, 2024

I was invited to speak at the coalition-organized Universal Healthcare Rally on March 6th 2024 as executive director of Whole Washington. The rally came one day before the end of the 2024 legislative session. We had arranged the event to serve as either a celebration and “thank you” to our legislators for passing SJM.8006 — or as an expression of our disappointment that they had not passed it. You can view the video of my full speech below, and a transcript beneath that.

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz7wVPJ-Tmc&t=37s


Good afternoon and thank you every single one of you for being here with me today.

You know I was just here about a week ago to give testimony to the House Health & Wellness committee about our bill SJM.8006.

Now I thought today we’d be talking about how we passed that bill, about how the Legislature is finally getting serious about universal healthcare, and how next year we’ll be working with them on some real legislation.

But unfortunately we’ve been told that they just don’t have time for all that!

I am here today to remind our state reps and senators that it was three years ago that we passed SB.5399 and created a universal health care commission — to study and recommend universal healthcare policy to our legislature. But that commission has not yet made a single policy recommendation in its three years.

I remind our legislators that when we asked them to give The Washington Health Trust a hearing, it was they who told us, “this legislation is too big and does too much” and then told us to try a joint memorial to get the ball rolling.

And now, for the second year in a row, we have been told we were not a high enough priority to get a vote.

You can see why we feel just a bit disrespected.

You know, when I came to Whole Washington, the Legislature had just killed The Washington Health Trust in committee for the third session in a row. I was told over and over again that this Legislature was bought and bossed and would never seriously consider universal public health care.

I have fought against that attitude every day as executive director of Whole Washington.

but I ask here today on the steps of the Capitol — was I wrong? Because so far I have been wrong. 8006 did not pass, The Washington Health Trust still has no champion in the House, we have still never received a public hearing, and the healthcare crisis rages on.

Well my friends — I’m here to tell you on behalf of the movement that we need to see some wins real soon. We need to see some commitments that universal healthcare means universal, pubic, deprivatized, decommodified, nonprofit healthcare — not government subsidies for private insurance. We need a commission with some deadlines for decisions so we’re not having this conversation 10 years from now. And we need a Legislature and Governor who recognize that it is on them to take some leadership here. We’ve written the policy. We have run the studies. The public support is there. It’s on you to do the rest.

But also, the power of our government comes from us the government and when we are not getting what we deserve then it falls on us to take the wheel.

So my message to our leaders today is to make universal healthcare happen — or we will. By bill or by ballot, the people of Washington State will have universal healthcare.

And they may look at this crowd today and say, “That’s not a movement worth worrying about” but I’m here to assure them that our movement runs deeper than what you might be obvious from the halls of Olympia.

It runs through our bodies and families which need health security. It runs through our communities who know that in Washington State we don’t have to ask. We can put the world we want to see on the ballot. This is our greatest duty and responsibility as citizens of this great state. We are not going away. We are not giving up.

The status quo will not hold the “we” you see here today will not allow it. By bill or by ballot we will cover everyone. By bill or by ballot we will kick out the profiteers and corporate lobbyists. By bill or by ballot we will fix what is broken. And by bill or by ballot we will have justice through our healthcare system.

Go to WholeWashington.org to build an unstoppable movement with us.

Andre Stackhouse is a lifelong Seattle resident, political organizer, and writer with bylines at The Daily of the University of Washington and the International Examiner.

To support independent citizen activism please consider making a donation at https://opencollective.com/public-stackhouse/projects/organizing/donate



Andre Stackhouse

An inventor, a pseudojournalist, a contrarian’s contrarian. Twitter: @CaptainStack