Assemblymember Phil Steck: New York Health Act Puts New Yorkers’ Health First

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that legislation he co-sponsored to establish a universal, single-payer health care system in New York passed the Assembly (A.4738-A). The measure, known as the New York Health Act, would expand coverage to all residents, regardless of wealth, income, age or pre-existing condition, and eliminate copays, deductibles and other charges to patients.

“Our current health insurance system is woefully inefficient. Administrative overhead is eating up as much as 40% of the dollars we spend on health care. We need a less expensive, more readily accessible system. Other advanced nations have met this challenge and we should too,” Steck said. “Medicare, which is a single payer system for the elderly, spends only 3% or less on administrative cost. Furthermore, the Medicare tax, which is 2.9% has not increased since 1986, while private health insurance has gone up several hundred times during that same period. Medicare has done all this while insuring the lease healthy population in the United States.”

The New York Health Act would establish a universal health care system, known as New York Health, within the state. Under the plan, New Yorkers would have access to a full range of doctors and service providers, as well as comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, maternity care, prescription drug costs, laboratory testing, rehabilitative care and dental, vision and hearing care. Out of state health care would also be covered. The system would be publicly funded based on a shared 80/20 employer/employee payroll contribution that would be progressive and based on the amount the employee is paid.

Steck, who has co-sponsored the legislation for years, noted that the measure would not only expand health coverage for residents, but would also result in significant savings for households, small businesses, and municipalities in the Capital Region and across the state.

New York Health would save nearly $45 billion in the first year alone thanks to the reduced administrative costs, and 98 percent of households would pay less for coverage than they do now.1 The system would also end the local share of Medicaid funding, resulting in significant property tax relief for New Yorkers, Steck noted. “Business needs to get past anti-government ideology, get on board, and support this proposal because it is business that would benefit the most from the lower costs. In the movie ‘Fix It,’ a businessman who is a member of the Conservative Party of Canada complained that he was unable to open a similar business in the United States because the cost of health insurance was prohibitive. The high cost of health insurance is the main factor making American business uncompetitive.”