Single Payer Advocate Urges Unions To ‘Get Ahead Of The Curve’

March 16, 2015

Single Payer Advocate Urges Unions To ‘Get Ahead Of The Curve’


March 12, 2015

By Joe Maniscalco


Gerald Friedman.Gerald Friedman

New York, NY – The author of a new report touting the enormous economic and social benefits of single payer healthcare and the New York Health Act, is urging organized labor in the Empire State to “get ahead of the curve” and to boldly take healthcare off the bargaining table once and for all.

Trade unionists have traditionally looked upon their negotiated healthcare packages as great sources of pride, and one of the most attractive things about being part of a union.

But at an open forum looking at the New York Health Act held near Union Square this week, Gerald Friedman, PhD, chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, suggested that clinging to negotiated healthcare benefits is unnecessary under a single payer system, and actually undermining the labor movement in a couple of important ways.

“That’s the past,” Friedman said. “Unions have to get ahead of the curve. If you go to collective bargaining negotiations these days, it’s always the first thing the employers talk about — how healthcare costs for retirees or current employees are too great, so, we can’t give you wage increases. At this point, we’ve got to get healthcare off the bargaining table. It’s working against unions.”

NYSNA — The New York State Nursing Association — is a major advocate for single payer and adoption of the New York Health Act. It too, however, reports encountering some rank and file reticence when presenting members with the idea that, under a single payer system, the state would cover their healthcare needs.

“Our health benefits are one of the prize reasons for being a member of a labor union in this country,” said Steve Toff, director of Strategic Campaigns for NYSNA. “If you ask people why they pay their dues, they often think, ‘Well, in return I get great healthcare.’ But that’s come at the expense of collective bargaining over the course of 30 or 40 years. If the state, all of a sudden provided it, it would throw a big wrench in the way that works. I think it’s a good wrench, ultimately. But it creates a lot of transitional problems from our past dependency.”

The single payer system outlined under the New York Health Care Act uses a progressive model, and places an 80 percent assessment on employers, and a 20 percent assessment on employees. Workers earning less than $25,000 a year would not be assessed at all.

Advocates for passage of the New York Health Act argue that the single payer system would be at least as comprehensive as any employer- or union-based sponsored coverage with no deductibles, co-pays or limited networks. Additionally, unions that have negotiated low or zero worker contributions to a health plan would negotiate the same arrangement for the worker share of the payroll assessment.

“Even without renegotiation of a contract, [workers] will be getting savings from not paying co-pays and deductibles,” Friedman said. “Even the well positioned workers will probably be doing better.”

Friedman also projects that switching to a single payer system under the New York Health Act would generate some 200,000 new jobs, while saving New Yorkers $45 billion.

In a perverce way, the economist says that the comprehensive healthcare packages that organized labor has been able to win at the bargaining table, has actually made unions vulnerable to right wing attacks.

“It’s made unions look like there’s something wrong with them…they’re these spoiled brats with all that good healthcare,” Freidman said. “It’s not helping anymore.”

Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin recenlty sparked shockwaves when he reversed stated plans to bring single payer to the Green Mountain State. Friedman denounced the governor’s actions this week saying, “There’s no ecoomic basis for Governor Shumlin’s decision to back away from single payer. He did it because of poliitcal considerations.”


New study touts benefits of single-payer health care for New York; health plans disagree

March 13, 2015


Research on a proposal for universal healthcare in New York says the benefits of a single-payer insurance system would reach beyond the economy. Advocates and opponents of the bill agree on that that note, but in very different ways.




WBFO’s Avery Schneider reports on the opposing views towards the New York Health Act

If the New York Health Act were passed, it would eliminate the need for private healthcare companies in the state. Leslie Moran of the New York Health Plan Association says the bill’s sponsor, Democratic State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, isn’t considering the job loss the bill would create.

Inside a hospital room in Buffalo, NY.

Inside a hospital room in Buffalo, NY.

Credit WBFO News file photo

“We’re talking about thousands, tens of thousands of jobs in the state that would be eliminated if he had his way and said we don’t need insurance companies, therefore we don’t need the people who work for them,” said Moran.

But the study, conducted by University of Massachusetts Economics Professor Gerald Freidman,says not only were those jobs considered, but there is an expectation of what would happen to them. The bill would provide a program for up to two years of unemployment benefits and job retraining.

Friedman said the savings from getting rid of private healthcare would lead to a development boom in New York that would wash out the job concern.

“Two hundred thousand new jobs will be created and those will more than soak up the unemployment created by displacing people,” Friedman said.

The bill still needs to garner more attention in the capitol, something Gottfried is convinced the results of the study will help with.


The New York Health Act

March 13, 2015 

About Me

My Photo
Former Member, New York State Committee of the Independence Party (73rd AD – Eastside Manhattan) and Former Member, New York City Independence Party Organizations – Manhattan Executive Committee and County Committee, representing the 73rd AD.


The New York Health Act

After traveling around the state promoting his push for a single-payer health care system, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried on Tuesday said a new study found that the state would save billions it switched to single-payer system, adding that the report “dramatically” changes the debate on health care.

Gottfried’s bill, the New York Health Act, has been introduced into the Assembly in some version since 1999, but it has never gone to the floor for a vote.  Gottfried this year has renewed his push for a single-payer system.

“Every New York family can say, ‘Where is my $2,200 dollars in savings from single-payer?  Where is the savings that 98 percent of us would see in our bank accounts if Albany would pass the New York Health Act?’”  Gottfried said during a conference call.  “Now that we’ve got these concrete numbers of $45 billion in net savings, I think that dramatically changes the politics of the New York Health Act.”

The study conducted by UMass Amherst Economics Department Chair Gerald Friedman found that along with saving residents a total of $45 billion in the first year, a single-payer health system would provide savings to 98 percent of New Yorkers, prevent 14,000 deaths by providing universal access to healthcare and spur the creation of 200,000 new jobs.

The bill does not have much support in the Republican-controlled state Senate, where Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon called the concept “interesting,” but has said he has concerns about switching to single payer.

“The major difficulty of single-payer is the federal government has the rules for two of the biggest sources of medical payment in the state: Medicare and Medicaid,”  Hannon said.  “Now, the challenge then if you want to change the system is, ‘How do you get the federal government to change their Medicaid and Medicare and not scare the population that’s being covered by Medicare—senior citizens—and Medicaid?’”

Sen. Bill Perkins, co-sponsor of the New York Health Act, said there is much work to do to promote the bill, but also said support is growing around the state.  In the state Senate, there are 18 co-sponsors of the bill.


The Economics of Universal Healthcare

March 13, 2015

By Capital Tonight Staff Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 08:47 PM EDT

Healthcare spending makes up a significant portion of the state budget, and costs have been going up and up for years. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried is the sponsor of a bill to create a single-payer system in New York. And Tuesday, University of Massachusetts at Amherst economics professor Gerald Friedman released an economic analysis of the proposal. He predicts the state would save $45 billion a year by making the switch. Professor Friedman and Assemblyman Gottfried joined us to explain

Economic Analysis of the New York Health Act

March 13, 2015  videotape of Dr. Friedman’s presentation Dr. Friedman’s study can be downloaded by clicking on this link and scrolling down the page.



Physicians for a National Health Program NY Metro Chapter sponsored an excellent forum on the first-ever study showing how single-payer health care could be financed in New York State.

Gerald Friedman, PhD, Chair of the Department of Economics, UMass Amherst

Steve Toff, New York State Nurses Association

Watch Prof. Friedman’s presentation on the first-ever economic impact study of how a universal, publicly financed single payer health care system will be funded in New York State. Based on the Gottfried/Perkins New York Health Act, this study provides the facts and figures we need to fight for a system that puts people over profits!

How will we pay for single payer? How much will it cost? Who will save money? How much savings can we expect? How will single payer impact jobs? How will this impact medical bankruptcies and out of pocket costs?

Contact your State Legislators and urge them to support the Gottfried/Perkins New York Health Act (A.5062/S.3525) to create a truly universal, single payer healthcare system in New York State.

Find your Assembly Member at:
Find your State Senator at:

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