February 15, 2014


Unions, medical providers support universal health care in N.Y.

February 13, 2014

Universal health coverage is next step, advocates urge
By Claire Hughes
Updated 10:18 pm, Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lisa Blodgett, an RN for Ellis Health Care, speaks during a rally in support of "New York Health" Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014, at the Capitol in Albany, NY. At right is Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)

Lisa Blodgett, an RN for Ellis Health Care, speaks during a rally in support of “New York Health” Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014, at the Capitol in Albany, NY. At right is Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. (John Carl D’Annibale / Times Union)

Twelve years after he first introduced a bill to promote universal health coverage in New York, Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried thinks Obamacare may give his cause the push it needs in 2014.

Federal officials have made successive fixes to address snags in the health law, formally the Affordable Care Act, which is intended to increase Americans’ access to health care.

“I think we are ready to refocus on real reform and real change and not just patchwork change,” Gottfried said Tuesday at the Capitol.

He stood flanked by state Sen. Bill Perkins, sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate, with a backdrop of representatives from labor unions, medical groups and the Working Families Party, who gave their support for the proposal, which is called New York Health.

While Gottfried could not say how much universal health care would cost state taxpayers, he estimated it could cut 20 percent off the more than $100 billion spent by government, private employers and individuals on services covered by the bill.

“The one thing that is certain is that money that we now spend … is dramatically more than what we would pay through New York Health,” Gottfried said.

An anti-insurance-industry refrain ran through the statements supporting the bill. Proponents of a so-called single-payer health system — under which the government is the sole purchaser of medical services — have decried the insurance industry’s influence in shaping Obamacare. The health exchanges that are at the heart of the law are government-run websites which allow individual consumers to shop for private insurance.

Dr. Frank Proscia, president of Doctors Council SEIU, a physicians union, denounced an insurance system that forces health providers to navigate a “maze of complex and counterintuitive policies” to provide care. “In a true single-payer system, all hospitals, doctors and providers would bill one entity … and the profiteers would be gone,” Proscia said.

Health care benefits have been negotiated by unions at the bargaining table, but labor representatives said they are happy to give up that contract fight to have universal coverage.

Bob Master, director of legalization/political action and mobilization for the Communications Workers of America, said employers have had the upper hand in negotiating health benefits, progressively reducing them or increasing employees’ contribution in recent years.

“All we have done in health care negotiations in the last 15 years is go backwards,” Master said. • 518-454-5417 • @hughesclaire

“Single-Payer Activist Guide to the ACA is Now Available

February 1, 2014



Get your copy today!


Almost 200 supporters have received their “Single-Payer Activist Guide to the Affordable Care Act” as gifts for donations since December, and it is now available at wholesale prices at our online store. You can order your copy for only $5, which includes the cost of shipping, or save by ordering in bulk.

The 30-page, 8.5″ by 11″ Guide is designed for individuals and organizations to identify organizing opportunities to build the single-payer movement as the Affordable Care Act is implemented over the next four years. It is a great way to educate yourself about the new law, and to figure out how to get involved in 2014.

For example, learn how new reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act can support single-payer advocates’ public education efforts; how single-payer groups in the South are harnessing movements to expand Medicaid to get the single-payer message out; how threats to labor unions’ healthcare plans are creating new opportunities for single-payer activists to engage with the labor movement; and more.

Please email Ben if your group would like to order 100 copies or more so we can discuss special discount rates and co-branding the guide with your organization’s logo.

Ben, Zoraida, and Jeff
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff

Healthcare-NOW! is a grassroots organization that addresses the health insurance crisis in the U.S. by educating and advocating for the passage of expanded and improved Medicare-for-all legislation, such as HR 676.