By Cara Matthews
The Journal News (White Plains, N.Y.), Jun 07, 2011
Democratic lawmakers in both houses introduced a universal health care bill today, under which publicly sponsored coverage would replace coverage by insurance companies. Instead of premiums, there would be broad-based public financing of health care based on people’s ability to pay. It would be funded through a graduated income tax, and the system wouldn’t have deductibles or co-payments. Delivery of care would remain primarily private.
Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried and Sen. Thomas Duane, both of Manhattan, introduced the legislation, which is being co-sponsored by 62 other legislators. However, it does not have a Republican sponsor in the Senate, which is controlled 32-30 by Republicans. Democrats hold the majority in the Assembly. The legislative session is scheduled to end June 20.
“We can get better coverage, get all of us covered, and save billions by having New York provide publicly sponsored, single-payer health coverage, like Medicare of Child Health Plus but for everyone,” Gottfried said in a statement.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation May 26 to create a single-payer system in that state.
“New Yorkers need and deserve security when they are sick or injured, and should not fear for how they will pay for medical bills,” Duane said in a statement. “Primary care and access to health care should be a right. A single-payer system is not only cost-efficient, but the fair and moral choice for New York.”
The national health care law doesn’t ensure that everyone has access to quality health care or control costs, according to Mark Dunlea, co-chairman of Single Payer New York and co-chairman of the Hunger Action Network of New York State.
New York is in the process of setting up a health-insurance exchange to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through the exchange. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is expected to introduce legislation soon.
By Single Payer New York
All New York residents would receive comprehensive health coverage under “New York Health,” a universal health care bill introduced by key legislators today. Under the plan, publicly sponsored coverage would replace insurance company coverage, and premiums would be replaced by broad-based public financing based on ability to pay. The bill, A.7860/S.5425, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Senate Health Committee Ranking Member Thomas K. Duane, is co-sponsored by 62 other legislators.
Gottfried and Duane were joined at the Albany press conference today by Dr. Garrett Adams, national president of Physicians for a National Health Program; Shaun Flynn of the New York State Nurses Association; Mark Dunlea, co-chair of Single Payer New York and executive director of Hunger Action Network of NYS; and Laurie Wen, executive director of Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Metro chapter.
“We can get better coverage, get all of us covered, and save billions by having New York provide publicly sponsored, single-payer health coverage, like Medicare or Child Health Plus but for everyone,” Assembly Member Gottfried said.
“New Yorkers need and deserve security when they are sick or injured, and should not fear for how they will pay for medical bills. Primary care and access to health care should be a right. A single-payer system is not only cost-efficient, but the fair and moral choice for New York,” said Senator Duane.
“The current system doesn’t work for patients or health care providers, or for the employers, individuals, and taxpayers who pay for care and coverage today,” Mr. Gottfried said.
Under this plan, no one would have to give up the doctors or other providers they use. Instead of individuals and employers paying high premium costs, the coverage would be funded through a graduated tax on income, the legislators said. Deductibles would also be eliminated and co-payments would be nonexistent.
“Federal health care reform made major improvements, but it still leaves insurance companies with too much control over premiums. Premiums are unrelated to a consumer’s ability to pay. Too often, patients and their doctors are left trying to figure out what is covered and then trying to get reimbursed. New York State can do better,” Mr. Duane said.
“Health coverage should be accountable to the people of New York, not to insurance company stockholders," said Assembly Member Gottfried. We should get the administrative and cost savings of a single-payer system – which have been documented in repeated independent studies. It should be fairly funded based on ability to pay.”
“Physicians for a National Health Program salutes Assembly Member Gottfried and Senator Duane for their vision for social justice for New Yorkers. 'New York Health' is model health reform legislation, not only for the people of New York but for the nation,” said Dr. Adams.
Mr. Dunlea said: "Two critical elements missing from the recent national health care package were ensuring that everyone had access to quality health care and controlling costs. That is why this state single-payer proposal is so critical. Canada's universal health care system started at the province rather than the national level, and it will be up to states like Vermont and New York to show how to make health care an affordable right at a sustainable cost."
"Doctors and patients are sick of a system controlled by private insurance companies," said Ms Wen. They don’t provide the services they overcharge us for and they make huge profits by denying care. What we need instead is a system accountable to the public, not to CEOs and shareholders. The Gottfried/Duane bill would restore the doctor-patient relationship and give doctors the freedom to take care of patients."
In 2009, the “Partnership for Coverage” report by the New York State Health and Insurance Departments, based on an analysis by the Urban Institute, found that a single-payer plan would be the lowest-cost alternative for universal coverage, compared to plans relying on insurance companies and employment-based coverage.
Single-payer plans like New York Health would save billions of dollars, including excess insurance company administrative costs and profit; and billing and collecting for hospitals, physicians and other health care providers. Current federal, state and local expenditures for health care services – primarily through Medicare and Medicaid – would be incorporated into the New York Health Plan to help pay for the program.
Assembly Member Gottfried added, “By eliminating the need for any employer to provide health coverage for its workers, we would make New York dramatically more job-friendly, especially for small businesses, start-ups and low-margin businesses, while offering better and more secure coverage to every New Yorker.”
Single-payer health coverage is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency pays for health care for all residents, but delivery of care is primarily private, as it is now. Patients would have freedom of choice of health care providers, and health care decisions are made by patients and their doctors, not by insurance companies. All New Yorkers would be covered for all medically necessary services, including primary, preventive, and specialist care; hospital; mental health; reproductive health care; dental; vision; prescription drug; and medical supply costs.
The cost of New York Health would not be new spending, the legislators said. For most people, it will be a substantial reduction in what they are now spending. When employers and individuals aren’t “taxed” by out-of-control insurance company premiums and deductibles, most people’s take-home pay will go up.