Labor unions back Gottfried-Perkins plan for universal, publicly-funded health care

By Tiffany Brooks
Legislative Gazette (Albany, N.Y.), Feb. 17, 2014

During a press conference last week labor unions joined the push for a single payer health care program in New York.

The Working Families Party, Service Employees International Union 1199, and the Communication Workers of America District 1 last Tuesday joined Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, to support New York Health, a single payer health care program.

"The Affordable Care Act has made good and important improvements to our health care system," Gottfried said. "But it is very clear that even with all the improvement in the federal health care reform. We're still in the hands of insurance companies with the high premiums, out-of-sight deductibles, co-pays, numerous limited provider networks, insurance bureaucrats telling us what coverage they'll pay for, or wont, and what doctor we can go see at what hospital. We need health coverage that is designed for patients, not for insurance companies."

The proposed New York Health is a publicly funded universal health care plan for all New Yorkers, with no premium, deductibles, or co-pays. Benefits would also include primary and preventive care, outpatient and inpatient medical care, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, rehabilitation, dental, vision, and hearing coverage.

A version of the bill (A.5389-a/S.2978-a) has been introduced every year since the 1990s.

"As Assemblyman Gottfried said, the passage of Obamacare represented a huge advance in this country the principle that almost all Americans are entitled to access to affordable health care, but it's not enough," said Bob Master, the political director for the CWA's District 1.

Currently, the bill has support from groups such as United Auto Workers, Physicians for a National Health Program, New York State Nurses Association, and 87 state legislators.

The Senate Health Committee and Assembly Codes Committee are currently reviewing the bill.

"As tireless advocates of patient care, registered nurses of New York state are proud to stand with Assembly Health Committee Chair, Richard Gottfried, state Senator Bill Perkins, and countless other patient advocates in support of the New York health bill," said Lisa Blodgett, a registered nurse and member of the New York Nurse's Association. "There's a health care crisis throughout our state and the only solution is a single payer system that guarantees quality health care to all."