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To the Editor:
As a group of local physicians and clergy who advocate for universal health care, the article, “Congress’ analyst: Millions to lose coverage under GOP bill” (March 13, 2017) moves our country in the wrong direction.
We work and serve many who have benefited from expanded health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Drastic cuts are not the answer to the high deductibles of the ACA — we need continued improvements and expansion to make health care guaranteed for all.
We ask Rep. John Katko to vote against the Republican health care plan.
There is a model for an affordable, comprehensive health care program for all in New York state: the New York Health Act. It’s like Medicare for all, though with no premiums, deductibles or co-pays. All those who live in the state are covered, and it is funded by progressive taxes on income and high-end investments. Under the plan, 98 percent of New Yorkers would pay less than they currently do for more comprehensive coverage.
Medicare is beloved by many who have it. If we give all New Yorkers Medicare, as well as negotiate fair drug and medical device prices and get rid of insurance company administrative costs and profit, we are estimated to save $45 billion per year.
We need state Sens. David Valesky, John DeFrancisco and Patty Ritchie to sponsor the New York Health Act. Please get involved and let them know health care is a human right.
Sunny P. Aslam, MD
Irene N. Sills, MD
Gita Ramamurthy, MD
Marianna Kaufman, MD
Jess Aslam, MD
William Paolo, MD
Richard Weiskopf, MD
Darvin Varon, MD
John A. Friedman, MD
John Manring, MD
Wanda Fremont, MD
David Keith, MD
Tom Maltese, MD
Andrew Kaufman, MD
Lynda Kreitzer, MD
Mark Cattalani, MD
Terri Hargrave, MD
Joel Potash, MD
Alan Freshman, MD
David Lehmann, MD
Intikhab Ahmad, MD
Brian Johnson, MD
Mohamed Khater, President, Islamic Society of Syracuse
Rev. Fred Daley, All Saint’s Church, Syracuse
Rev. Quinn Caldwell, Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse
Bishop Thomas Costello, Syracuse
Rev. Dr. Olivia Hilton, Episcopal priest
Rev. Neal Quartier, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse
Rev. Johanna Marcure, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Syracuse
Rabbi Andrew Pepperstone, Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas, Jamesville
Rev. Jennifer Hamlin-Navias, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse
Bethany Russell-Lowe, MDiv., Candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry, May Memorial & First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse
Rev. James Mathews, St. Lucy’s Church, Syracuse
Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday backed a plan that would provide health insurance to all New Yorkers — a proposal they say is necessary as Republicans in Washington move to repeal the Affordable Care Act
“It would be a disaster for New York and the millions of people that currently rely on the Affordable Care Act,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at a Capitol news conference. “We have an obligation to ensure that we take action to protect the 3.6 million New Yorkers enrolled in comprehensive coverage through our state’s exchange.”
The health care for all bill, likely a difficult lift to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, would be paid for with a tax on the rich.
“Fortunately New York has an enormous number of really wealthy people who will contribute a substantial part of the cost and as a result 98 percent of New Yorkers would be spending less than they are today,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.
Senate Democrats also insist they’ll push to shore up money for Planned Parenthood in New York if the federal government cuts funding — creating another flash point in Albany over women’s health issues. The federal government is legally barred from funding abortion services.
“That’s money I can’t imagine the state of New York couldn’t and wouldn’t make those programs whole,” said Sen. Liz Krueger.
In addition to the creation of a single-payer plan, Democrats would codify the state’s health insurance exchange, which was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo through executive order. Another bill would bolster the exchange in the event the ACA is repealed.
The proposals come as some lawmakers remain anxious in New York over the impact the state’s finances could take should the measure be repealed. House Republicans are discussing a bill that would potentially provide block grants for the state’s Medicaid program.
“Anything that has the potential to put health care delivery in the state of New York in jeopardy is something that we’re concerned with,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Wednesday.
Heastie expects the Legislature would likely return to Albany if the ACA is repealed to respond.
Not everyone is voicing alarm over block grants. Republican Rep. John Faso in an interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 said the potential changes to Medicaid could help New York when it comes to asking for waivers and amendments.
“The markets are falling apart in many states,” Faso said. “There’s no way we should sit here and let that deteriorate further.”
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