We Can Do Better: "New York Health" Can Bring Us All Better Health Care, Better Coverage, at Lower Cost
The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") has made major improvements in how health care is delivered and paid for. But it still leaves insurance companies with too much control of our health and our wallets. Premiums skyrocket, while patients and their doctors try to figure out what is covered and then try to get reimbursed.
New York can do better. 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 for everyone. It's called the "New York Health" bill, introduced in Albany.
Like other basic services such as education, police, fire protection, and roads, paying for health care should be a public responsibility. We should not be at the mercy of insurance companies and their ever-increasing premiums. Health care should be a basic right, not a privilege or a commodity.
Governor Cuomo's Medicaid redesign work has made great strides to improve health care and reign in health costs in the Medicaid program that serves millions of low-income patients. Now it's time to help the millions of New York residents and businesses that currently buy private insurance. The majority of doctors, nurses, and patients prefer a single payer system, as do many small businesses and unions. It would save taxpayers and businesses billions of dollars while improving health care for everyone.
Vermont is creating a single-payer system for that state. New York should, too. Despite the political climate in Washington, states like New York have a history of recognizing our responsibility to protect the right to health care for all. We can and should do better.
The "New York Health" bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried (A.5389) and in the Senate by Bill Perkins (S.2078). For the full text of the bill, see below or go to http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us and type: A5389.
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ABOUT THE "NEW YORK HEALTH" BILL
New York Health is a program to provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New Yorker. Publicly-sponsored coverage would replace private insurance company coverage. You and your health care providers work to keep you healthy. New York Health pays the bill. Health care would be funded fairly.
Freedom of choice: Patients would have the freedom to choose their health care providers. You would keep the doctors or other health care providers that you choose. And patients and their doctors - not insurance companies - would make health care decisions.
Comprehensive coverage: 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. It would provide a full benefit package to all New Yorkers that is more comprehensive than most commercial health plans.
Funded fairly: Instead of individuals and employers paying high premiums, deductibles and co-pays, the coverage would be funded through a graduated tax on payroll and non-payroll income based on ability to pay. Today, an insurance company wants the same premium whether they're covering a CEO or a receptionist, a successful company or a start-up just getting by.
The cost of New York Health would not be new spending. It's money now going to insurance companies - minus the billions we now pay for insurance company's administrative costs. For most people, it will be a substantial reduction in what they now spend. 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.
Federal and state funds that now pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus would be folded into the New York Health Trust Fund to help pay for the program. New York Health would eliminate the local share of funding for Medicaid.
Greater accountability, less waste, better care. We'd be paying for health care - not for huge insurance company administrative costs and profits, and not paying for the time and paperwork of dealing with insurance companies.
Health coverage would be accountable to the people of New York, not to insurance company stockholders.
A business-friendly solution: Single payer reduces costs for business - large and small - by eliminating the need for any employer to provide health coverage for its workers. That 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.
The most affordable way to achieve universal coverage: In 2009, a 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 have the lowest-cost for providing universal coverage, compared to plans relying on insurance companies and employment-based coverage.
A growing list of support: The New York Health bill is endorsed by the New York chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians (internal medicine), the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, and the New York State Nurses Association. Single-payer coverage has broad labor union support and 85 members of the State Legislature.
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