On Tuesday, February 11, key labor organizations, and health care groups announced their support for "New York Health" (A.5389A/S.2078A). New York Health, sponsored by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and State Senator Bill Perkins, creates a universal, single payer health coverage plan. Working Families, SEIU 1199, Communications Workers of America, and the United Auto Workers added their names to a long list of unions and health care professional organizations supporting the bill.
New York Health has been endorsed by many leading unions and health care organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, New York State Nurses Association, Doctors Council SEIU, Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, United University Professions, IATSE Local 1, New York State Academy of Family Physicians, New York State American Academy of Pediatrics, and Physicians for a National Health Program, along with 91 state legislators.
"President Obama said, 'No American should ever spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.' But it shouldn't be just our golden years," said Assembly Member Gottfried. "Health care should be a right, not a privilege. Coverage should be driven by the needs of patients, not insurance companies and stockholders. You and your doctor work to keep you healthy. New York Health will pay the bill."
"Today, the diverse coalition supporting our "New York Health" Bill expands to include cornerstone organizations dedicated to fundamental fairness, progressive policy and grassroots advocacy," said Senator Perkins. "Our shared message is clear: a universal, single payer health plan is a right and an essential good. It will shift the healthcare dynamic from talk of private profit and actuarial tables to preventative medicine and continuity of care at all levels."
"This plan cuts out the middleman and assures no New Yorker is uninsured and left behind," said Bill Lipton. "Single-payer health care would save lives, simplify the system, and divorce access to a fundamental right from the cruelty of the market."
"Health care costs are holding labor hostage," said Bob Master. "A single-payer system would take health care off the bargaining table, allowing us to bargain for what working families deserve: higher pay, sick leave, and job security. New York Health would give us an efficient, high-quality health care system that actually serves patients rather than CEOs and insurance company shareholders."
"1199 is proud to add our voices to the growing chorus of support for New York Health," said Kevin Finnegan, Political Director of SEIU 1199. "Health care workers dedicate their lives to serving patients, not insurance companies. New York Health will give all New Yorkers access to the high-quality care our members provide, without an insurance middleman driving medical decisions and skimming profits off the top."
"While the Affordable Care Act has brought health care to millions of uninsured Americans, New York can do better and be a national leader with single payer," said Gordon Deane, President of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers/UAW Local 2320. "Profit has no place in health care. Providing universal, quality medical care from birth through the twilight of life should be our priority. We owe it to our children, the poor, the middle class, and all New Yorkers."
"The Affordable Care Act took steps toward reducing costs of care and expanding access to coverage, but that doesn't mean we should stop working," said NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. "A single-payer system is the only real way forward if we want to achieve universal coverage and level the playing field for patients and businesses alike."
New York Health would replace insurance company coverage, premiums, co-pays, and limited choice of providers. Instead it would provide publicly-sponsored coverage with a benefit package more comprehensive than most commercial health plans, with full choices of providers.
No one would have to give up their preferred doctor or other providers. Instead of individuals and employers paying high premiums, deductibles and co-pays, coverage would be funded through a graduated tax on income based on ability to pay. New Yorkers would be covered for all medically necessary services including primary, preventive, and specialist care; hospital; mental health; reproductive health; dental; vision; prescription drug; and medical supplies.
For most people, New York Health will represent a net income savings compared to the current, regressive system of insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Single payer models have dramatically lower administrative costs than private insurance. In 2009, the New York State Department of Health and Insurance Department found that a single-payer system would provide universal coverage at a lower total cost than plans relying on private, employer-based coverage .
Organizations supporting New York Health include:
- American Academy of Pediatrics--District II
- Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU
- Communications Workers of America
- Doctors Council/SEIU
- Doctors for America--New York
- Finger Lakes for New York Health - Ithaca, NY
- Healthcare-NOW! NYC
- Hunger Action Network of New York State
- IATSE -- Local 1
- League of Women's Voters of New York State
- Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
- National Physicians Alliance--New York
- New York State Academy of Family Physicians
- New York State AFL-CIO
- New York State Nurses Association
- New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
- Physicians for a National Health Program - NY Metro Chapter
- Rekindling Reform
- SEIU 1199
- Single Payer New York
- Statewide Senior Action Council
- United Auto Workers Regions 9 and 9A
- United University Professions
 "Reforms to Achieve Quality, Affordable Coverage for All New Yorkers," New York State Department of Health / Insurance Department Partnership for Coverage, July 17, 2009.
"Nurses take an oath to put our patients first. The current system ensures that insurance companies' interests come first and patients go last. New York Health removes profit-motivated incentives to overtreat or undertreat. Thus dollars flow directly to care, saving tax-payers money and allowing us to provide for our patients in a humane and rational manner."
--Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, President, New York State Nurses Association
"After 40 years as a physician, I am fed up with our inefficient and unfair health care system. Instead of spending time caring for patients, I am fighting insurance companies to get them the care they need. Even with the improvements in Obamacare, many of my patients still cannot afford the care they desperately need. New York can do better. I am delighted to see more and more support for this bill that can bring health justice to New York State."
--Elizabeth Rosenthal, MD, Board member, Physicians for a National Health Program NY Metro
"Quality Health Care is a basic human right and social good. Nearly one-third of every health care dollar is consumed in administrative costs and private insurers' profits. The current state of health care reform still leaves millions of New Yorkers un- or under-insured. This legislation would allow patients to regain free choice of doctor and hospital, preserving the doctor-patient relationship and utilizes the administrative savings to expand coverage to all New Yorkers."
--Frank Proscia, MD, President, Doctors Council SEIU
"Under New York Health, every New Yorker regardless of age, income, wealth or employment will have comprehensive health care. The ever-varying administrative practices of multiple health insurance plans add costs and frustration to providers and patients and serve primarily to delay or deny coverage for care will be eliminated. We applaud Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Perkins for their sponsorship of this critically important measure and urge its swift passage this session."
--Vito Grasso, Executive Vice President, New York State Academy of Family Physicians
"New York needs to make health care a right. High health care bills are driving New Yorkers to emergency food programs, something that occurs even if they have health insurance. We need to save tax and consumer dollars while providing quality health care to all who need it. A universal single-payer system will allow us to focus more on keeping people healthy than the far more expensive approach of trying to cure people once they are sick."
--Mark Dunlea, Executive Director, Hunger Action Network of New York State; Co-Founder, Single Payer New York
"Healthcare-NOW! NYC, a grassroots organization of volunteers, is proud to stand with this growing coalition of groups supporting New York Health. We want to see the end of a health care system that bankrupts people for getting sick. We hope that New Yorkers will join us in pushing to pass this bill and make healthcare a human right."
-- Katie Robbins, MPH candidate; volunteer, Healthcare-NOW! NYC