New York Health Act passes the Assembly for the third year in a row by a vote of 94 – 46

May 19, 2017

By

Mike Vilensky

Democrats in the New York Assembly are relaunching a push for a statewide single-payer health-care program in hopes that the national debate over health care will give their legislation new momentum.

The “Medicare-for-all” bill—designed to provide health insurance to all state residents—passed the predominantly Democratic Assembly Tuesday afternoon following several hours of partisan back-and-forth on the chamber floor.

The bill has passed the Assembly twice before, but then stalled in the more conservative and currently Republican-controlled state Senate, as it is expected to again.

But sponsors say it has more support this year amid a move in Congress to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature health-insurance law. A replacement for “Obamacare” is being hashed out in the U.S. Senate.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a single-payer system on a national scale during his 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, giving the idea wider attention.

“We are now seeing a surge of support in New York for a Medicare-for-all system, and that’s partly because the debate now going on in Washington makes it clear our problems with health care are not going to get solved, but will be made worse, by Washington,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who has sponsored a single-payer bill for two decades.

The program would require some $90 billion annually in new tax revenue, analysts said. Mr. Gottfried said it would be partly funded through a progressive increase in state payroll taxes.

But Mr. Gottfried maintains even with the tax increase, New Yorkers would save money by getting rid of the premiums, copayments and administrative costs associated with private insurers.

The legislation could be a blow to health-insurance companies, and some legislators expressed concerns about the potential for job losses as a result.

Republicans in the Assembly, a minority of the chamber, pushed back on the bill. “There’s a noble endgame trying to be achieved here, and if it could work I would support it,” said Assemblyman Andrew Raia, a Long Island Republican. “But when you’re dealing with progressively graduated taxes, the rich have the ability to leave. What happens when all the sudden that tax-base you’re looking for is now in New Jersey?”

A single-payer plan to provide universal health-care coverage has long been an elusive goal for progressive Democrats. Conservatives and some economists have expressed concerns about restricting market choices and burdening taxpayers with new costs.

A single-payer plan is being debated in California. For years such a measure was pushed in Vermont, but ultimately it failed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, hasn’t taken a firm position on Mr. Gottfried’s bill. His spokeswoman said Tuesday: “The governor has been and remains committed to ensuring access to high-quality health care for all New Yorkers and we will review the legislation in that context.”

Democrats and Republicans have an even numerical split in the Senate, but nine Democrats have broken from their party’s conference and empower a Republican majority coalition.

Eight of the renegade Democrats allied with Republicans have co-sponsored the single-payer bill in the Senate. But the Republican Senate Majority isn’t expected to bring the bill to the floor for the vote.

Write to Mike Vilensky at mike.vilensky@dowjones.com


Katie Robbins
c: 330-618-6379
On Thu, May 18, 2017 at 8:29 AM, <Dunleamark@aol.com> wrote:

Why such a huge number of people not voting? My assumption would be that they were seeking to avoid going on record one way or the other.  not a good sign. Or am I missing something?
In a message dated 5/17/2017 5:34:31 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, katie@pnhpnymetro.org writes:
It’s very exciting to see the progress we’ve made on building support in the public and in the state legislature for the New York Health Act. As you have heard, the bill passed 87-38 yesterday. Below is a list of the media it has generated. Let me know if you have any links that were left out.
 
Media Roundup:
 
Social Media: The FB announcement has over 800 shares, reaching over 70,000 people. Help spread the word and keep sharing it!
 
 
Public Statements of Support from both Mayor DeBlasio and NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett
Think Progress: New York lawmakers are voting to create a state-level single-payer system (Thing Progress is affiliated with Center for American Progress)
Reason.com “New York’s Single-Payer Health Care Plan Would Be More Expensive Than New York’s Entire State Government” This article is by far the most negative, and helps show how the opposition will frame the issue of raising the costs through public dollars. Of course we spend more on health care in total dollars now, so the argument is really we can’t afford the current system, but that is not how the opposition will frame it.
Rolling Stone: “After Daughter’s Tragic Death, Mother Begs for Single-Payer Health Care” While this article is not about the New York effort, Amy Viella spoke at the Healthcare NOW conference held in NYC this past January, and if you ever need a reminder of why we are in this fight — her story is it.

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