NY Assembly votes for universal health coverage

June 3, 2015

http://www.chron.com/news/article/NY-Assembly-to-vote-on-universal-health-coverage-6289820.php

By MICHAEL VIRTANEN, Associated Press | May 27, 2015 | Updated: May 27, 2015 6:52pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Assembly voted 89-47 on Wednesday for legislation to establish publicly funded universal health coverage in a so-called single payer system.

All New Yorkers could enroll. Backers said it would extend coverage to the uninsured and reduce rising costs by taking insurance companies and their costs out of the mix.

With no patient premiums, deductibles or co-payments for hospital and doctor visits, testing, drugs or other care, New York Health would pay providers through collectively negotiated rates. It would be funded through a progressive payroll tax paid 80 percent by employers and 20 percent by employees.

Also, waivers would be sought so federal funds now received for New Yorkers in Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus would apply.

“Employers are shifting more and more health care costs to workers or are dropping it entirely,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chief sponsor. “The only ones who benefit are the insurance companies.”

The Manhattan Democrat estimated universal care would save New Yorkers more than $45 billion annually, cutting the statewide total cost for health care to about $255 billion in 2019.

Assembly Republicans doubted Gottfried’s estimate and questioned what would happen to everyone now employed by insurance companies.

“All I can say right now I think this is the last think New York state needs as far as an additional cost,” said Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, an Erie County Republican. She said they’re still trying to grapple now with the cost of the federal Affordable Care Act. That extended health care coverage to about 1 million New Yorkers, more than half in Medicaid and the others in private insurance with possible tax subsidies to offset costs.

An identical bill hasn’t advanced in the state Senate and isn’t expected to before the legislative session ends in June. Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon said Wednesday that Gottfried’s bill faces two major hurdles, resistance from senior citizens to giving up Medicare for a new state program and obtaining federal waivers to apply Medicaid and Medicare funding to support it.

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