Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried today announced that the Assembly has passed the New York Health Act. The legislation would establish a universal single payer health plan that would provide comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers (A.4738-A, Gottfried).
"The Assembly Majority believes that decisions regarding medical care should not be based on cost," said Speaker Heastie. "Despite Washington's efforts to undermine access to affordable care, we recognize that New Yorkers, and all Americans, deserve a healthcare system that guarantees coverage for all."
"The health care system is rigged against working people, and Congress and the Trump administration are working to restrict health care access even more. New York can do better with an 'improved Medicare for all' single-payer system that covers all of us and is funded fairly," said Health Committee Chair and bill sponsor Richard N. Gottfried. "Support is growing with the public and in the State Senate. Assembly passage is an important step as we continue to build support for universal health care to benefit everyone."
Under the bill, every New York resident would be eligible to enroll, regardless of age, income, wealth or employment. There would be no network restrictions, deductibles or co-pays. Benefits would include comprehensive outpatient and inpatient medical care, primary and preventative care, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, rehabilitative, dental, vision, hearing and all benefits required by current state insurance law, by publicly funded medical programs or provided by the state public employee package.
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. "1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East has been fighting for decades for universal healthcare coverage for New Yorkers," said George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU. "At a time when national politicians are turning back the clock, attacking funding for health coverage, and undermining protections for consumers, we applaud the New York State Assembly for moving us forward. Under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie and Health Committee Chair Assemblymember Gottfried, we are hopeful that our state can reach our goal of affordable, quality healthcare for all."
"Not one more death from lack of healthcare in the richest country in the world. Not one more," said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association, which represents 42,000 New York nurses. "We will advocate until we have a healthcare system that delivers high quality care to every resident of New York."
"New York's seniors are facing the most extreme financial insecurity in decades with healthcare costs consuming upwards of 20 percent of their incomes. Furthermore, those who need long-term care services must first impoverish themselves in order to be eligible for Medicaid. We know there is a better way: an improved 'Medicare for All' system. Statewide Senior Action Council applauds the Assembly for passing the NY Health Act, reaffirming their support for a healthcare system that is truly affordable and meets the needs of New York's seniors," said Maria Alvarez, executive director, New York Statewide Senior Action Council.
"This proposal will guarantee healthcare to all New Yorkers, making healthcare a right and a public good. There is evidence from around the world that similar systems provide quality care, control costs, and are enormously popular with the public. We have the opportunity to transform the social contract and vastly improve health outcomes and quality of life for all residents of New York," said Katie Robbins, MPH, director of the Campaign for New York Health.
Vito Grasso, executive vice president of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, said, "The single-payer movement continues to gain momentum because our healthcare system continues to erode under the weight of useless and redundant administrative costs that drain resources that should be devoted to patient care and innovation. The New York Health Act addresses the deficiencies in the insurance model by providing a single funding source, a consistent and efficient administrative environment for processing claims, and a collective bargaining between the single payer and health care providers to assure ongoing refinement of the entire mechanism for providing and paying for healthcare. New Yorkers need and deserve nothing less than complete reform of our healthcare system."
Oliver Fein, MD, board chair of Physicians for a National Health Program - New York Metro Chapter, and professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, said, "As physicians, we see patients every day suffering needlessly from arbitrary denials of care by private, for-profit health insurance companies that charge high co-pays and deductibles. Many of us try in vain to help uninsured people who can't afford to fill our prescriptions. We're thrilled that the New York State Assembly has again recognized that healthcare is a human right -- now is the time for the Senate to follow suit."
"It is a tragedy that many New Yorkers still go without health insurance and many more suffer from being bounced around health plans by their employer - with the resulting confusion and lack of continuity care this causes. We are thrilled that the Assembly once again passed the New York Health Act to help our great state create a rational and efficient health care system. Providers of care should be pleased by the administrative simplification this will bring if passed into law. This is a win-win-win for people who need care, those who provide the care, and for the State," said Neil Calman, MD, president and CEO of the Institute for Family Health.
"The New York County Chapter of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians is a long-time supporter of Single Payer Health Care reform. We applaud the New York State Assembly for passing the NY Health Act for the fourth year in a row and hope that this will be the year that the NY State Senate will see the light and allow New York State to be in the forefront of health care for all. We also anticipate that the NY Health Act will play a role in protecting / expanding women's reproductive healthcare in a time that it is under intense attack," said Linda Prine, MD, chair of the NY County Chapter of NYSAFP.
"While healthcare is a fundamental human rights issue, our support for single payer healthcare is driven by economics. Our healthcare system is a growing burden for businesses, many of which have begun moving their facilities to Canada to eliminate this part of their overhead. The New York Sustainable Business Council represents thousands of businesses that uphold high standards of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Most of our members are small businesses, and small businesses are the most challenged by the bureaucratic maze and high costs of securing good health coverage for their employees. Since small businesses are the primary drivers of job growth in New York State and small businesses invest more in their local economies, any measure to alleviate this burden on small businesses will boost job growth and strengthen our economy. We further believe New York State will see a significant secondary economic impact. By becoming the first state in the nation to take this courageous step, we will attract new businesses and become the choice state for business startups," said Bob Rossi, executive director, New York Sustainable Business Council (NYSBC).