May 16, 2017

Assembly to Pass New York Health Act Today Single Payer System Guarantees Health Coverage for all New Yorkers

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried announced the Assembly's intent to pass the New York Health Act today. The universal "improved Medicare for all" single-payer health plan would cover every New York resident, regardless of wealth, income, age or health status (A.4738, Gottfried).

"While lawmakers in Washington debate giving tax cuts to the wealthy and cutting funding for healthcare for those who need it most, the Assembly Majority remains committed to ensuring every New Yorker has access to the care they need and deserve," said Speaker Heastie. "The Assembly will once again pass this measure, but the recent action taken by Congress to strip more than one million New Yorkers of healthcare has proven it is time for our colleagues in the Senate to act as well."

"The health care system is rigged against working people, and the Trump administration is working to make health care access even worse. New York can do better with an 'improved Medicare for all' single-payer system that covers all of us and is funded fairly," said Assembly Health Committee Chair and bill sponsor Richard N. Gottfried. "Support is growing with the public and in the State Senate, where we now have 30 co-sponsors including all the mainstream Democrats and Independent Democratic Conference. Assembly passage is an important step as we continue to build support for universal health care in the face of the Trump agenda."

For many New Yorkers, the rising cost of healthcare has forced many individuals to make healthcare decisions based on economic factors. Under the New York Health Act, all residents would be eligible to enroll in the universal healthcare system and would have access to the full range of doctors and other healthcare providers. Benefits would include comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventative care, prescription drugs, behavioral health services, laboratory testing, and rehabilitative care, as well as dental, vision, and hearing care.

The publicly funded coverage would include no network restrictions, deductibles or co-pays. Rather than the regressive structure of high premiums, co-pays and deductibles, funding would be based on a shared 80/20 employer/employee contribution system.

Additionally, state funding would be combined with federal funds that are currently received for Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus to create the New York Health Trust Fund. The state would also seek federal waivers that will allow New York to completely fold those programs into New York Health. The local share of Medicaid funding would be ended, offering major property tax relief for New Yorkers.

"The New York State Assembly, once again, shows profound insight into the healthcare needs of the people of New York with passage of New York Health, the single payer bill," said Jill Furillo, RN, NYSNA Executive Director. "We are at a critical juncture as Washington considers new laws that would further entrench the insurance business, setting back patient access to quality, affordable care. But with this vote, the Assembly recognizes that New York is ready to move forward, not backwards, and put in place a system that makes patient need the priority and says no to health insurance gatekeepers. We salute the Assembly and urge the Senate to do the same."

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO said, "We applaud Speaker Heastie, Assembly Health Committee Chair Gottfried and the Assembly Democratic Majority for continuing the fight to ensure every New Yorker has health care coverage. This is an example of true leadership, particularly at a time when basic health care needs are increasingly under attack due to the uncertainty in Washington."

"Health care is a basic right. Every single New Yorker should have access to quality health care services, regardless of their ability to pay," said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. "The New York Health plan championed by the Assembly would make us a national leader by providing coverage to every resident of this state. We thank Speaker Heastie, Assembly member Gottfried and the many others who are working so hard to make the New York Health Act a reality."

"As the radical right wing in Washington try to disguise a 500 billion dollar tax cut for the super-rich and insurance giants as a healthcare bill, the New York State Assembly is leading the way with the only kind of healthcare bill that will put people before profits, and make health care what it should be, a human right," said Ivette Alfonso, President of the Citizen Action of New York's Board of Directors. "We commend the Assembly for passing the New York Health Act and implore the IDC/Republican Senate to prove once and for all they are with the people and against Trump."

"Throughout my life, securing and maintaining quality healthcare coverage has been an ongoing struggle and a tremendous source of financial strain," said Elizabeth Rose Huttner, healthcare consumer. Although I am fortunate to come from a financially secure family, the timely passage of the Affordable Care Act kept me from potentially losing insurance coverage due to chronic illness. However, even with the ACA and 'good' insurance through my employer, I was spending $100 a month on co-pays alone and struggling with confusing charges and coverage issues. If the healthcare system failed someone as seemingly fortunate as me, countless others are surely facing catastrophic failures. No one should be faced with these financial challenges simply to live - that is why New York needs the New York Health Act now!"

"As a small business owner for 40 years, I can thank a fellow business person, who helped me organize our state-wide organization, for teaching me KISS (keep it simple stupid). I always search for simple, time and cost effective solutions, because I dislike wasteful bureaucratic systems. In that vein, the New York Health Act seems the only proposal that truly reduces cost for individuals, businesses, local government/taxpayers and doctors. All other plans just seem to shuffle costs around but do nothing to prevent expensive waste," said Peter Looker, business owner.