Gottfried, Perkins say time is right for single-payer health care

By Matthew D'Onofrio
The Legislative Gazette (Albany, N.Y.), Jan. 13, 2015

For two decades, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, has been calling on his fellow lawmakers to pass legislation that would provide universal health care for all New Yorkers.

To cap off a series of statewide hearings that began in November, the Assembly Health Committee — chaired by Gottfried — held a hearing on the Health Care Act on Tuesday in Albany where doctors, health care advocates, union leaders, and clergy discussed the need for a health care system that simplifies the billing system for treatment.

"New Yorkers deserve better," said Gottfried, the bill's sponsor. "We deserve to be able to go to the doctor when we need to, without worrying about if we can afford it. We deserve not to worry when we get a medical bill or an insurance statement we can't figure out. We deserve health coverage for all of us, at a price based on our abilities to pay, not what the market will bear."

Gottfried says the Health Act would save billions of dollars yearly by eliminating unnecessary insurance company overhead and administrative costs that doctors incur when dealing with insurance companies including premiums, deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks and out-of-network charges. New Yorkers would have the independence to choose their doctors and other providers based on ability to pay. The program will be fully accountable, eliminating the 'local share' of Medicaid.

"Your health is your wealth," shouted Perkins, the Senate sponsor, to the dozens of supporters who filled the Well of the Legislative Office Building. "Your health is your wealth," the supporters responded.

Leaders of various organizations such as the New York State AFL-CIO, New York State Nurses Association, the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, New York State United Teachers and Citizen Action of New York were present.

"Passing single-payer health care would be an essential step in ensuring that every New Yorker, regardless of his or her income level, has access to affordable and quality health care, while saving tax payers millions," said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who was at the rally. "It's common sense."