By Chris McKenna, Feb 16, 2019
Democratic state lawmakers have passed a stream of pent-up priorities this year since winning full control in Albany, enacting election reforms, new gun-control measures and other bills Republicans had blocked when they ruled the Senate.
But the question now is whether a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a Democratic governor will tackle the oldest and most ambitious of those once-impossible plans: a single-payer health insurance system akin to what is championed in Washington as “Medicare for all.”
The New York Health Act, first introduced in 1992 and approved by the Assembly each of the last four years, is back before the Legislature with a few additions in the version filed this month. Its mission is state-run, comprehensive coverage for every New Yorker that would eliminate private insurance and be paid for with new taxes and the public funding that New York now spends on Medicaid and Medicare.
For supporters like Star Hesse of Sullivan County, who has made annual trips to Albany to rally for the bill and believes it now stands its best chance of becoming law, the key is removing profit-minded insurance companies from the system. She argues the state could cover everyone and yet reduce total health-care spending, partly by chopping the part that now goes to company shareholders and executives.
“To them, it’s a business,” said Hesse, a Narrowsburg resident who’s active with the Campaign for New York Health advocacy group. “To other people, it’s life and death.”
She answers the charge that New York couldn’t afford single-payer health care by arguing that the current insurance system is both too expensive and inadequate.
“We can’t afford what we have now - and it’s crappy coverage!” Hesse said….