Single payer health care bill sponsored by Russell clears Assembly, would provide insurance to all New Yorkers

June 3, 2016

Single payer health care bill sponsored by Russell clears Assembly, would provide insurance to all New Yorkers
Friday, June 3, 2016 – 9:02 am

North Country Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, says legislation she co-sponsored that would create a universal plan to cover every New York State resident, known as the New York Health Act (A.5062-A), passed the Assembly June 1.

“I have supported the single payer system for years. Health care is a fundamental human right – not a luxury. I think including everyone in one system is the best way to control and drive down costs,” she said.

Russell, whose district includes towns bordering the St. Lawrence River plus Canton and Potsdam, said access to quality health insurance can literally be the difference between life and death.

“The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, but it still has its problems. Health care is still inequitable and keeps some people from accessing basic health care,” Russell said.

“People are still racking up huge bills because of high co-pays and skyrocketing premiums. We can ensure that every New Yorker has the coverage they need. We have an opportunity to put people over profits and continue the goal to make sure hard working middle-class families have the same access to quality health care as the wealthiest New Yorkers,” she said.

The New York Health Act would establish a universal health care system, known as New York Health, and would expand coverage eligibility to include all residents, regardless of wealth, income, age or health status.

In addition, every enrollee would have access to the full range of doctors and service providers offered. Benefits would include comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, prescription drug costs, laboratory testing, rehabilitative care, dental, vision and hearing care.

As with private insurance, out-of-state care would be covered; both when residents are traveling and need health services or when there is a clinical reason to receive care outside the state, Assemblywoman Russell said.

Those providing or coordinating care would be fully paid by New York Health, with no co-pays or other charges to patients. Funding for the system would be based on a shared 80/20 employer/employee payroll tax contribution, eliminating the “regressive tax” of premiums, co-pays and deductibles currently imposed on patients regardless of their ability to pay.

She said under the current system too many people are faced with rising costs and crushing medical bills, and, in some cases, it’s causing them to go without critical care.

“Universal health care will help get the focus back on prevention and wellness, which will ultimately rein in health care costs and save taxpayer dollars,” Russell said.

With health care costs increasing nationally, considerable research has shown that a universal health care system would reduce costs and pass savings along to patients, consumers and taxpayers.

A 2009 state Department of Health report showed that this type of system would provide the lowest cost for universal coverage in comparison to systems relying on private and employer-based insurance. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites wellness and preventive health care as key measures that will help people live longer, more productive lives while reducing overall health care costs.

Assemblywoman Russell said she also believes the establishment of a universal health care system in New York State would benefit businesses.

“We need fairness in our health care system because it will lower costs and will help us attract a better workforce, particularly the skilled and professional workers that businesses want to hire,” she said.

For second year in a row, Assembly passes universal health care bill

June 3, 2016

Assembly Passes “NY Health” Universal Health Care Bill 86-53

June 2, 2016

Assembly Health Committee Chair  
Richard N. Gottfried 
822 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248 – Tel: 518-455-4941
250 Broadway, #2232, New York, NY 10007 – Tel: 212-312-1492
Contact:                                                     For Immediate Release
Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941                                    Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Assembly Passes “NY Health” Universal Health Care Bill

 The New York State Assembly passed the “New York Health Act” universal health care bill (A. 5062A/S. 3525A) by an overwhelming majority on Wednesday, June 1, for the second year in a row.  New York Health would provide universal, complete health care coverage to every New Yorker without deductibles, co-pays, or limited provider networks.  

“Health insurance plans have now asked the State for a 17% rate increase, with some plans as high as 45%,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, lead Assembly sponsor of the bill.  “Year after year, the cost of coverage for families and employers goes up faster than wages and inflation.  Premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-network charges, and uncontrolled drug costs undermine health care and family finances, and are a heavier burden on employers and taxpayers.”

“The Affordable Care Act has made important improvements to the system, but as long as our health coverage comes from insurance companies, it will be an increasingly unbearable burden,” Gottfried said.  “One in three Americans still put off medical treatment due to cost in 2015, and 40% of New Yorkers reported having cut down on other expenses to afford health care.”

 “People say a single-payer system makes perfect sense, but ‘it could never happen.’  The Assembly’s commitment and the growing public support are changing the conversation,” Gottfried said.  “It may not happen in Washington for a long time, but New York can and will do it.”

Universal, complete health coverage through a single-payer system would cover everyone while removing financial barriers to care with a progressive, broad-based public funding system based on ability to pay.  ” The net savings to New Yorkers every year would be $45 billion,” said Gottfried.  “It would save tens of billions in private health insurance administration and profit as well as the costs health care providers spend fighting with dozens of different insurers – total administrative costs that today make up 20% to 25% of the American health care dollar.  New York Health would also capture savings by negotiating prices for drugs and medical devices, and save businesses the time and money they spend reviewing, selecting, and administering employee health benefits.  New Yorkers would save billions they now spend on deductibles, copays, and out-of-network charges.”

“I commend the Assembly for fundamentally addressing one of the great human rights issues of our time: health care,” said Senator Bill Perkins, lead Senate sponsor of the bill. “The New York Health Act is a universal preventative solution for all New Yorkers.  It will finally recognize the fundamental human rights principle that our collective health is our greatest source of collective wealth.  Moreover, by putting patients before profits, New York Health will revolutionize our healthcare system, address persistent disparities and ensure that care is truly patient-centered, once and for all.”

 “We congratulate and thank our elected leaders in the Assembly for once again voting in favor of the New York Health Act,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzales, RN, President of the New York State Nurses Association.  “The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers want real reform of our healthcare system – to create a publicly-funded system based on care not profits.  Today New York is one step closer to that goal.”

“The New York Health Act removes financial barriers to health care – the co-pays and deductibles – that keep some of my patients from seeing me when they need to,” saidOliver Fein, MD, Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro Chapter.  “I also wouldn’t have to worry about my patients affording the medications, lab tests or consultations that they need.  I wouldn’t have to waste countless hours fighting insurance companies to approve necessary medical care.  The New York Health Act would end the tiered access to health care based on a patient’s insurance status, and guarantee equal access to care that is funded fairly – something every New Yorker deserves.”

“New York has made great strides under the Affordable Care Act, but now it’s time to take the next step and move toward a truly universal health care program,” said Mark Hannay, Director of Metro New York Health Care for All.  “The Assembly’s vote starts us down that path, and the New York Health Act provides a very good way to provide all New Yorkers with comprehensive, affordable health care.”

“We spend between 10% to 15% of our gross budget to provide for employee healthcare. The experience of developed countries with a single payer system for medical care proves that this cost can be slashed in half for us if New York State will transition to a single payer health care system,” said Cor Drost, President & CEO, Transonic, Inc., an Ithaca-based medical device manufacturer.

“Health care costs are holding labor hostage,” said Bob Master, Assistant to the Vice President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1, which just ended a nearly two-month long strike with Verizon after negotiating terms including health care benefits for over 30,000 Verizon workers.  “A single-payer system would take health care off the bargaining table. It would give us more power to bargain for what working families deserve: higher pay, sick leave, job security. In the process we would also get an efficient, high-quality health care system that actually serves patients rather than the CEOs and shareholders of insurance companies. Right now, 31 cents of every health care dollar go to profits and administrative waste. We need to redirect those resources and build a system that protects people, not one that denies care to drive up the profit margin.”  CWA District 1 represents over 175,000 workers. 

“New Yorkers deserve better,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “We should be able to go to the doctor when we need to, without worrying whether we can afford it. We should choose our doctors and hospitals without worrying about network restrictions. We deserve health coverage for all of us, paid for based on our ability to pay, not what the market will bear.”

 New York Health has been endorsed by the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association, Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, Doctors Council SEIU, NY chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, NYS AFL-CIO, SEIU 1199, NYSUT, UFT,  32BJ SEIU, Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and 1179, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, the Sullivan County Legislature, the Tompkins County Legislature, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, Community Service Society, NYPIRG, Statewide Senior Action Council, League of Women Voters, Make the Road NY, NY Immigration Coalition, and others.