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PRESS RELEASE: New York City Council Calls for the State Legislature and Governor to Pass the New York Health Act with Historic Resolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

12/11/2018

 

CONTACT:

Katie Robbins | katie@nyhcampaign.org | 917-657-4663

 

 

New York City Council Calls for the State Legislature and Governor

to Pass the New York Health Act with Historic Resolution

 

City Hall, NY — Today, the New York City Council passed a historic resolution by an overwhelming majority with 44 Council Members voting in favor, calling on the New York State Legislature and Governor to pass the New York Health Act, guaranteeing publicly-funded healthcare for all New York State residents.

This vote happened on the tail of a hearing held last week where Speaker Johnson, Health Committee Chair Levine, and New York City residents and leaders called for the passage of the New York Health Act (A.4738-A/S.4840-A) shortly before more than 75 people testified in favor of Council Resolution 470. The New York Health Act would provide complete health coverage to all New Yorkers without deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks, or out-of-network charges. At the hearing, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) announced that he and his Senate colleague, Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), will amend the bill next month to add full coverage of long-term care for all New Yorkers who require it, regardless of income.

Recent studies show that the New York Health Act can cover every New York resident and improve access to care, while spending less in total healthcare costs than the status quo. The savings in moving from the fragmented, privatized system to a streamlined publicly-financed system would alleviate the health insurance burden on local municipal budgets, as well as New York City’s share of Medicaid payments, resulting in an estimated $9.4 billion – or 11% of the budget – in savings for the city. Additionally, of the 1.7 million New Yorkers that are uninsured statewide, over 1 million of them live in New York City.

Recent electoral successes bolster advocates’ expectations for movement on this legislation in the coming session. A majority of the new Democratic Senate campaigned on the legislation or were cosponsors in the last session. This included Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), who spoke at last week’s hearing about her own personal healthcare challenges. Statewide support of this legislation is growing, reflected in the 18 local cities, counties, and towns across New York that have already passed resolutions in support of the New York Health Act, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Kingston, and the counties of Rockland, Sullivan, and Tompkins.

The bill has been endorsed by the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association, Community Health Care Association of NYS, Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, Doctors Council SEIU, NY chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, NYS AFL-CIO, 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East, 32BJ SEIU, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and 1179, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, Community Service Society, NYPIRG, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Disabled in Action, League of Women Voters, Make the Road NY, and many more.

Quotes:

“I understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with not having health coverage, as I lost my health care shortly after being diagnosed HIV positive. It was awful. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, which is why I support single payer health care and am a proud sponsor of this bill. I hope the state legislature will make this a priority and pass this bill,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson who sponsored Resolution 470.

Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Council Committee on Health stated: "Single-payer, universal health care used to be seen as a fringe, pie-in-the-sky issue. Not any more. Passage of this resolution is the latest sign of the political momentum behind the principle that healthcare is a human right. This victory is the fruit of years of labor by the Campaign for New York Health, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and so many others.  Next stop...Albany!"

“I saw how having long-term care for some and not having it for others had a huge impact on the quality and length of my grandparents’ lives. So I’m committed to working to see that a single payer system includes comprehensive long-term care. And I urge the City Council to include that in their support for the New York Health Act,” said State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.

“Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of the New York Health Act and chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “No one says they disagree with that. And the New York Health Act is the only plan that achieves that goal.”

"The New York Health Act is currently the only proposal that would create a more accessible, equitable, and affordable healthcare system for all New Yorkers, regardless of their wealth or immigration status,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “As the bill's Senate sponsor, I would like to thank City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for introducing the resolution in support of the New York Health Act and City Council Health Committee Chairman Mark Levine for holding this important hearing to further demonstrate the critical fiscal and public health benefits associated with this bill. I am committed to continue working with Assembly Member Richard Gottfried to make the New York Health Act a reality in New York State."

"Although our current system fails us all, the poor and communities of color suffer the most. People of color and immigrants bear the brunt of the failure of our current fragmented, privatized system. Single payer promotes equity and stands to benefit especially those who have been left out and left behind. If you see health as a human right, you should support the NY Health Act," stated Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“A single payer system will decrease the needless administrative costs of our current system, and allow us to devote our money and our time to meeting the health needs of the more than one million New Yorkers who rely on our services every year,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals.

"It is no secret that nurses are passionate advocates for an improved Medicare for All system in New York State and the country to meet the moral imperative of guaranteeing high quality healthcare for all. We want to guarantee that the progress we make toward healthcare for all lifts the boats for every working person in the state and the country," stated Marva Wade, RN, Board Member of the New York State Nurses Association

 

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The Campaign for New York Health is a 501c4 organization dedicated to passing and implementing legislation for universal single-payer healthcare in New York State. We bring together over 150 organizations representing: community groups, labor unions, seniors, people with disabilities, nurses, teachers, patients, doctors, business leaders, faith groups, immigrants, and healthcare advocates, committed to the right to healthcare. Find out more at www.nyhcampaign.org

 

 

 

 

 

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ARTICLE: At hearing, City Council gives warm reception to single-payer, Jonathan Lamantia, Crain’s

By Jonathan Lamantia, Dec 7, 2018
Democrats winning the state Senate in the midterms gives the bill a political boost

The City Council seems likely to pass a resolution endorsing a state single-payer health care bill after a hearing Thursday in which health committee chair Mark Levine fervently supported such a system and criticized its detractors.

Levine derided the status quo in health care, which costs more per capita in the U.S. than in other developed countries without better outcomes. He said that while he supports a national approach, it is unlikely to be taken up by the Trump administration.

"New York need not and must not stand still in the face of inaction at the federal level," he said.

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VIDEO: NYC Council Hearing on Resolution 470 Supporting NY Health, chaired by Mark Levine

Click on "video" after navigating to NYC Council Health Committee meeting on December 6, 2018, here

Sequence of Panels (4 hours, 28 minutes) (apologies to any who testified whose names are omitted or misspelled)

0:01 — Mark Levine, Chair of Health Committee, NYC Council
0:07 — Richard Gottfried, NYS Assembly
1:06 — Alessandra Biaggi, NYS Assembly, Dr. Mary Bassett, former NYC Commissioner of Health
1:25 — David Rich, Gtr NY Hospital Assoc
1:48 — Judy Sheridan Gonzales, Pres NYSNA ;Marva Wade, NYSNA; James Perlstein PSC CUNY;
Jim Bracchittla, Screen Actors Guild Pension Fund
2:03 — Dr. Len Gottfried, Director of Research, PNHP-Metro; Anthony Feliciano, Director - Commission
on the Public’s Health System; Dr. Henry Moss, PNHP-Metro; Dr. Lisa Melilli, epidemiologist.
2:22 —Bobbie Sackman, Caring Majority; Heidi Siegfried, Center for Independence of Disabled;
Karla Lawrence, Caring Majority; Jean Ryan, Disabled in Action
2:37 — Kimberly Smith, Callen Lourde; PNHP; National Asso of Social Workers
2:51 —India Home; Chinese American Planning Council; NY Immigration Coalition; Coalition for Chinese American Families
3:06 —Charmaine Ruddock, Bronx Health Outreach; Elena Polivy, Geriatric Care Managers;
Priscilla Bassett, Statewide Senior Action Council; Bob Lederer, PNHP
3:27 — Jeff Michelson, David Lee, Dana Offenbach
3:47 — Barbara Estrin, Joseph, Alana
3:57 — Dr. Naomi Zudai; Dr. Elizabeth Kolag; medical malpractice attorney …
4:13 — Vote will be next week
4:14 — Colette Swietnicki, Ilana, Jean Fox

 

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VIDEO: Rally for NYC Council Resolution 470 to Support NY Health

December 6, 2018

Rally Video Here

Speaking order as follows:

Katie Robbins Director of the Campaign for NY Health, emcee and organizer
Raging Grannies, 1:00, “The HC Bills Go Round n Round”; “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a painful swollen nose”
Marva Wade, 3:20 Board Member, NYS Nurses Associate Board Member
Mark Levine, 7:15, Chair of NYC Council Health Committee
Rafael Espinal, 11:45, NYC Council
Corey Johnson, 13:30 NYC Council head, tells his health story.
Alessandria Biaggi,  19:00 new NYS Assembly Member
Richard Gottfried, at 22:00, most senior NYS Assembly Member, first introduced NYHA 25 years ago — now passed 5 times.
Katrina Reyes, at 25:00 new Assembly member, nurse
Sandra Stein, at 27:00, mother of a 9-yr-old who needs NYHA
Matthew Eugene, 33:40, NYC Council Member
Mary Basset, MD,  37:40, former Health Commissioner for NYC
Her mom Priscilla Basset, 39:00, speaking as Medicare recipient
Jessica Edwards, MD, 42:00, Natl President of Comm of Interns & Residents.
Peter Meacher, MD, 44:00 Chief Medical Officer of Callan Lourde
Dana Offenbach, 48:00, one of 4M independent contractors in NYC
Jean Ryan, 50:00, President of Disabled in Action
Josh Kellerman, 51:00, Retail, Wholesale, and Dept Store Union

 

 

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #22, Ryland Church, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Ryland Church, December 3, 2018

From Riches to Rags
Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all my ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
– W.B.Yeats “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”

Of course I was a prima donna in the high flying world of fashion design. How could I not be? I was plucked out of New York’s premier school of fashion and design to join the select design team of the most exclusive Fifth Avenue department store – a rare and coveted position. At the age of 18 I was one of a team of eight designers producing 300 “Looks” a year. These exciting window and store designs created energy throughout the store, making retail headlines and increasing sales volume. My world centered around the Spring and Fall Couture Collections in Paris, London, and New York of famous designers such as Bill Blass, Halston, Givenchy, Gucci and Ralph Lauren.

Those early years were my proving grounds, with tireless work at all hours, on any day and every holiday, where the simplest task was an urgent and immediate need. To friends and family, my life was truly glamourous and yet, for me, my life was closer to that loneliest of lives led by Holly Golightly, the misunderstood ingénue of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While my life was on the vanguard of the moment, I felt like an empty shell....

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Analysis: Full Assessment of PERI Economic Analysis of Medicare for All, Woolhandler, et al., PNHP

By Stephanie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.; David Himmelstein, M.D.; and Adam Gaffney, M.D., M.P.H.
November 30, 2018

The Economic Analysis of Medicare for All by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) team provides a robust and well-documented projection of the economic effects of a properly structured single payer health care reform. Its estimate that such reform would provide universal and comprehensive coverage without any increase in overall health expenditures is sound, and in keeping with older estimates from authoritative sources, such as the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office, as well as evidence on the costs of care in nations that have implemented single payer reforms. Indeed, even an estimate by the Koch brothers-funded Mercatus Institute concluded that a single payer reform would realize savings of $2 trillion over ten years.

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News: Upstate NYers medical debt mysteriously paid off, Bethany Bump, TimesUnion

Ithaca women turn $12,500 in donations into $1.5 million of debt relief

By Bethany Bump, Monday, December 3, 2018

For nearly 150 people around the Capital Region who've been hounded for years by debt collectors, the mail should have recently brought some good news. News that seemed too good to be true. If it came in a yellow envelope with a return address of Rye, New York from a group called "RIP Medical Debt," it wasn't. Too good to be true, that is.

"A lot of people get our letters and think they're too good to be true and throw them out," said Daniel Lempert, a spokesman for RIP Medical Debt. "That's why we try to get the word out.

Thanks to a fundraising campaign by a group out of the Finger Lakes, the medical debt of some 1,284 people around upstate New York totaling $1.5 million has been forgiven. In the Capital Region, 146 people had $298,507 worth of old debt wiped out — all because Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, of Ithaca, got the idea to raise money for a good cause.

The women are members of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health, which advocates for universal health coverage through passage of the New York Health Act. The pair were looking to do some good, and maybe make a political statement at the same time…

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View: Exciting Time for Single-payer Healthcare Advocates, Madeline Zevon, Examiner

By Madeline Zevon, December 2, 2018

In New York State, a Blue Wave. Democrats won 40 of the 63 NY Senate seats. The win is momentous: Since WW II, due to gerrymandering and side deals with renegade Democrats, Republicans have controlled the NY Senate for 65 of 68 years. The new senate leader will be Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first woman to head a chamber in NY history.

This is good news for the New York Health Act, legislation that will bring universal, comprehensive, affordable healthcare to every New Yorker. The bill has repeatedly and overwhelmingly passed the state assembly, with 31 senate co-signers last spring. Many newly elected senators campaigned on NY Health, which, like traditional Medicare, is single-payer, and will save us billions — and stimulate our economy, creating 180,000 new jobs.

This good news has triggered rabid opposition from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and the propagandists they pay. Beware widely disseminated “alternative facts.”...

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #21, George Gross, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by George Gross, November 26, 2018

My story actually is my wife Margaret’s story but we are so intertwined and our lives together so connected that I cannot tell her story without relating how it unfolded from both of our perspectives. It began, innocently enough, with two mistakes. First, only one of us got a flu shot: me. Margaret chose not to get one, thinking that she didn’t need it, largely because she travels to see family in a warmer climate. Then, we didn’t update our health insurance because we wanted to get a joint policy and thought that the enrollment period had passed. I will describe that mistake at the end. It is secondary to the crisis that I will tell now: the story of how Margaret almost lost her life.

It began so simply last February...

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Viewpoint: New hope for universal health care, Karen Rubin, The Island Now

By Karen Rubin, November 27, 2018

It’s been 100 years since the Spanish Flu pandemic infected 500 million people worldwide (one-third of the planet’s population) and killed as many as 50 million, including 675,000 Americans.

Health care should have improved since then. It has in many countries, but not necessarily in the U.S.

Here in the U.S., the 30 million people who have no insurance, the tens of millions more who are underinsured, and the likelihood, under Trump and the Republicans, of millions more not being able to afford to get treatment when illness first strikes, means that there could well be another massive epidemic.

Our health system is strangling under a combination of avarice, inefficiency and deliberate complexity. Americans pay more than any other industrialized nation – 17 percent of GDP, in fact, – with some of the poorest outcomes.

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Letter: Our CEO Wrong on 'Medicare for All', Weill Cornell Columbia Students, Business Insider

William Ford, Emilie George, Alex Irace, Rachel Madley, Graham Wehmeyer, and Michael Zingman,
Students at Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons,
Members of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) 
Nov. 26, 2018

In a recent article, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital CEO Dr. Steven Corwin commented on rising healthcare costs. He stated that "We do a lot of very expensive things...We have to figure out how to reduce our costs." In the same article, he stated that he opposes "Medicare for All," but that "We have to have universal coverage."

As medical students training at the institution Dr. Corwin leads, we agree: we do need it - and we need it urgently. Unlike Dr. Corwin, we, along with a growing number of hospital leaders, believe "Medicare for All" is the only solution for universal coverage and cost reduction.

Medicare for All is a universal, comprehensive single-payer system in which healthcare is financed by one public agency but privately delivered. It would cover all medically necessary services and eliminate co-pays, premiums, and deductibles, leading to improved financial security when individuals or families get sick. It would also give patients the freedom to choose their doctor.

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Letter: Jacobs must help end high health care costs, Patricia Meyer-Lee, Buffalo News

By Patricia Meyer-Lee, Tonawanda, November 26, 2018

In the coming new year, we are looking forward to swift passage of early voting in New York State, passage of the Victim’s Rights Act, guarantee of Women’s Reproductive Rights, and passage of the New York State Health Act.

As my representative I am asking Sen. Chris Jacobs to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats to bring much needed changes to our health care system. As the current chairperson of the health committee I’m certain he has a wealth of information to share his colleagues.

I have several friends who are currently uninsured due to affordability issues. I am 62 years old, retired and spending over $800 a month for health insurance. There is a $2,000 deductible with co-pays....

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LETTER: Critic of NY Health Act tells half the story, Dr. Gene Tinelli, Syracuse.com

By Dr. Gene Tinelli, Nov 24, 2018

In a recent letter (Nov. 15,2018) Michael Kracker does harm to a bill that would save New York money. As the executive director of a business organization designed to preserve its heavy investment in the current system, he performs a sleight of hand. 

His hypocrisy is that he cites the RAND study's figure of $139 billion in progressive payroll taxes, which would pay for the bill, claiming that only 5 percent of New Yorkers are without insurance. But he doesn't say that New Yorkers with insurance, enduring high premiums and co-pays, are rationing their own health care at a cost of serious illness. Affordable care is unaffordable for most New Yorkers...

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Politics: Sponsors of NY Health Hopeful about 2019, Victor Porcelli, Gotham Gazette

By Victor Porcelli, Nov. 14, 2018

Though Governor Andrew Cuomo has not expressed support for instituting a single-payer health care system in New York, his fellow Democrats campaigned on the issue as they flipped control of the state Senate, landing all of state government into Democratic hands and providing a significant boost of optimism to the lead sponsors of the New York Health Act, which would create a government-administered single-payer health care system.

The bill has passed the Democrat-dominated state Assembly several times and all the members of Senate Democratic conference signed on as co-sponsors at the end of last legislative session in a unified show of support for the program heading into the election season.

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VIDEO: Universal Health Care Activists Disrupt Industry Execs, Tim Murphy, The Body

By Tim Murphy, November 16, 2018

Amid an early snowfall on Thursday, November 15, on the sidewalk before a Hilton Garden Inn outside Albany, New York State's capital, about 40 activists from the Campaign for New York Health, an organization advocating for single-payer health care in the state, protested a conference going on inside among executives from the state's various private insurers, which the New York Health Act (NYHA), the single-payer bill in question, would put out of business.

The activists wielded signs reading, "Honk If You Hate Your Health Insurance" and "Big Profits From Pain? $hame On You!"

The second part of the protest happened inside, where four of the activists -- including Brandon Cuicchi of ACT UP NY -- one by one disrupted a panel in which executives from the Business Council of New York State and the national drugmaker trade group PhRMA were arguing against single-payer, in keeping with an anti-single-payer campaign they have launched called The Realities of Single Payer Healthcare for New York.

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Article: Healthcare Activists Picket Troy Insurers Conference, Rachel Silberstein, TimesUnion

By Rachel Silberstein, November 15, 2018

A group of healthcare professionals, unions and activists who support a single-payer health plan for New York plan to picket the annual conference of the New York Health Plan Association (NYHPA), a trade association for the state’s health insurance companies, in Troy on Thursday.

NYHPA is a key member of the “Realities of Single Payer” coalition, an array of business interests dedicated to lobbying against the New York Health Act, which would create a single-payer healthcare system in the state.

The activists charge that “NYHPA and its corporate allies, including huge pharmaceutical companies, whose representatives will be speaking at the conference, are spreading deceptive information about this legislation in order to preserve a lucrative business model that denies care to millions.”

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Photos: Protests over health care, Paul Buckowski, Albany TimesUnion

Photos by Paul Buckowski, November 16, 2018

 

TROY -- Union members, activist groups and health care professionals took part in a protest Thursday calling for single-payer health care outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, where the New York Health Plan Association was holding a conference.

Protesters say the New York Health Plan Association is lobbying against the New York Health Act, which would create a single-payer system.

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ARTICLE: NYS Senate Democrats claim majority, Kenneth Lovett, Daily News

By Kenneth Lovett, Albany Bureau Chief, Nov 6, 2018

After years of attempts, the state Senate Democrats claimed clear control of the chamber, giving the party a clean sweep of state government for the first time in a decade.

The victory is also a historic one as it means Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will now become the first black woman—and the first woman, period—to lead a majority legislative conference.

She will now be one of the leaders negotiating the budget and key pieces of legislation with Gov. Cuomo....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #20, Deaglan McEachern, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by  Deaglan McEachern, November 12, 2018

I vividly remember that awful day. August 4th 2014. Lori and I had been married less than a year. She had recently quit her corporate finance job, gone back to school and started her own business. That day she woke up, turned to me, and said, “I can’t feel my arms and legs.” She was 28 years old.

There is no way to adequately describe the overwhelming fear, the piercing dread, that washes through you when the woman you love says something like that. I gathered her up and drove to the hospital Emergency Room. After admitting her on an outpatient basis, they wheeled her to the radiology department for an MRI. They directed me to the billing department.

We thought we had great insurance, just like we thought we were young and healthy, but they wanted $5,000. On the spot. In the moment we were most vulnerable, in the moment my wife’s health was most unclear, the system required $5,000....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #19, Alessandra Biaggi, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Alessandra Biaggi, October 22, 2018

I was fortunate enough to have grandparents who lived until their late eighties and nineties. But watching my grandparents age was both wonderful and difficult because, depending upon their socioeconomic status, their experience of aging was completely different. Differences in their economic status affected the care they were able to access and by extension, their quality of life.

My grandfather had 24-hour care in his home and he lived until the age of 97. However, my grandmothers both went to nursing homes where they weren’t being fed. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. Although the nursing homes put food in front of them, both of my grandmothers had suffered strokes and were unable to use their hands. And so it was only after several weeks that we were able to determine that they were quite literally starving. Luckily, my parents noticed that my grandmothers were losing a lot of weight and were able to move them out of nursing homes in upstate New York near Hyde Park and into nearby Bronx nursing homes, where being close to our family and receiving higher quality care allowed them to live much higher quality lives.

But my family’s experience just shows you that if you are able to be at home or to afford good care, you actually can extend the length and quality of your life....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #18, Else Fisher, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Else Fisher, October 15, 2018

Conditioning our Futures — My Dreams Derailed

“Pre-existing condition,” healthcare lingo for an illness you have prior to applying for health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 3 million (or 25%) of New Yorkers under age 65 have pre-existing conditions — which include pregnancy, diabetes, cancer (even if cured, cut out, or in remission), a history of substance abuse or addition, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, allergies, or any other condition an insurer might list.

You may not even know that you have such a condition. I certainly had no idea — until my after-college dreams were dashed, more than 55 years ago....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #12, Johanna Bard, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Johanna Bard, August 19, 2018

I miss my brother. A brilliant trial lawyer, working in the General Counsel’s office of a Fortune 100 company, Johnny was abruptly fired just before he turned sixty. I am, of course, biased about this tragic turn of events; just let me say that Johnny had argued (and prevailed) for his company multiple times before the Supreme Court (and many US Courts of Appeals) and the company’s judicial fortunes suffered after he left.

He took COBRA. It was jaw-droppingly expensive. He looked for a new job. Age discrimination is real. Prospective employers explained they couldn’t pay him what he was worth and they knew he’d jump ship if they offered what they could afford. Never mind that NYC is too expensive to be jobless and still pay rent. Johnny cut back on expenses, took Social Security early, began spending his savings — and then, after getting a physical, dropped his health insurance....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #10, Serena Castile, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Serena Castile, August 5, 2018

I am a medical student in New York City and I am 24 years old. I went into medicine out of an overwhelming desire to help others, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

Navigating our complex healthcare system has shown me that it often fails those who need it the most. Even for those who have health insurance, access and cost continue to be a problem, as seen from my own perspective as both a future physician and as a patient.

At the New York City teaching hospital where I work, there are actually separate buildings for patients with private and public health insurance, such as Medicaid and Medicare. Patients with private insurance are seen by faculty members, while those with public insurance are seen by a rotating cast of residents (doctors in training). Those without health insurance aren’t seen at all — or they’re seen and practiced on by medical students at the student-run clinic....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #9, Farris Thomas, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Farris M. Thomas, Jr, July 29, 2018

My life changed forever on March 31st, 2009 when I was crossing the street and a speeding motorcycle hit me. The impact sent me flying 25 feet, breaking every bone on my right side from my clavicle to my toes.

I am grateful to modern medicine to be alive.

The trauma was catastrophic. Seven open fractures to my leg, nine broken ribs piercing my lungs, and broken clavicle. Several 14+ hour-long surgeries were necessary to rebuild the right side of my body.

Months of physical therapy and private nurses followed. I had to learn to walk again, to move my arms up and around, to feed and bathe myself. The vascular trauma to my legs was so extensive I have had 11-surgeries on my left leg, the most recent 8-months ago....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #8, Ron Wegman, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

Ron Wegman, July 22, 2018

Surprise! It’s a hospital bill!

Eleven p.m. on a Saturday night. My wife and I were returning home from a rare evening out, made possible by the fact that our children were away at a summer camp near Sidney, NY. It had been a successful evening: we had discovered a Moroccan-Israeli café on the Upper West Side.

As soon as we walked in the door, the telephone rang. It was the nurse from camp. Our son was ok, he hurried to assure us, but he had injured his finger and the nurse was asking for our permission to take him to the emergency room of the local hospital. Naturally we agreed: Sidney is 125 miles and a three hour drive from the Bronx; it would hardly make sense to bring our son all the way home to see a doctor. The camp had our family health insurance information, and the hospital accepted our insurance....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America, Miriam Helbok, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series for Bronx writers to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

By Miriam Helbok, June 11, 2018

Late in 2017 I received a letter from AARP Medicare Complete Mosaic, my medical insurer since my retirement, stating that the Montefiore Hospital Medical Center would not renew its contract with that plan in 2018. Since my excellent primary doctor of many years and others among my physicians are associated with Montefiore, I opted to join a different plan, HealthFirst, which is connected with Montefiore. As a result I lost one of the best benefits offered by the AARP plan: membership in the Silver Sneakers program, through which insured seniors can use any of thousands of Silver Sneakers-affiliated neighborhood gyms in the United States free of charge.

The physical, mental, and emotional benefits that people of all ages get from regular exercise have been demonstrated in countless scientific studies....

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PRESS RELEASE: NYC Council Speaker Johnson and Other Elected Officials Call for State Legislature and Governor to Pass Single-Payer Healthcare



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

12/6/2018

 

CONTACT:

Katie Robbins | katie@nyhcampaign.org | 917-657-4663

Anthony Feliciano | afeliciano@cphsnyc.org | 646-325-5317



NYC Council Speaker Johnson and Other Elected Officials Call for State Legislature and Governor to Pass Single-Payer Healthcare

 

City Hall, NY —  Today New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and numerous other city and state elected officials, labor leaders, and health professionals called for the State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a bill establishing a single-payer system of guaranteed, publicly-funded healthcare for all New York State residents. The leaders spoke on City Hall steps to 150 supporters shortly before a hearing by the Council’s Health Committee, where more than 50 people testified in favor of Council Resolution 470 calling for passage of the New York Health Act (A.4738-A/S.4840-A). The bill would provide complete health coverage to all New Yorkers without deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks, or out-of-network charges. At the hearing, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) announced that he and his Senate colleague, Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) will amend the bill next month to add full coverage of long-term care for all New Yorkers who require it, regardless of income.

 

The City Hall press conference was organized by the Campaign for New York Health, a broad coalition of 150 unions, healthcare organizations, community and civic groups, and elected officials. At the hearing,

New York City residents affiliated with supportive organization delivered testimony about the systemic problems in accessing healthcare, including long-term care services. Witnesses explained how exorbitant deductibles, copays, and out-of-network charges, along with ever-increasing premiums, cause many people to delay or deny necessary medical care, often with devastating effects. Others recounted the frightening experience of being unable to afford ever-increasing insurance premiums, leading to very harmful health consequences.

 

“I understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with not having health coverage, as I lost my health care shortly after being diagnosed HIV positive. It was awful. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, which is why I support single payer health care and am a proud sponsor of this bill. I hope the state legislature will make this a priority and pass this bill,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

 

“On behalf of Mayor de Blasio, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments in support of the New York Health Act... In order to have thriving, healthy communities, every person must have access to health care...The City of New York supports the New York Health Act and we call upon the State Legislature and Governor to pass a single-payer health system in New York State.” said Oxiris Barbot, MD, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals.

 

“I saw how having long-term care for some and not having it for others had a huge impact on the quality and length of my grandparents’ lives. So I’m committed to working to see that a single payer system includes comprehensive long-term care. And I urge the City Council to include that in their support for the New York Health Act,” said State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.

 

Recent studies show that the New York Health Act can cover every New York resident, improve access to care, while spending less in total healthcare costs than the status quo. Advocates pointed out the tremendous savings in moving from the fragmented, privatized system to a streamlined publicly-financed system will alleviate the health insurance burden on local municipal budgets, as well as New York’s share of Medicaid payments, resulting in an estimated $9.4 billion – or 11% of the budget -- in savings for the city.

Recent electoral successes bolster advocates’ expectations for movement on this legislation in the coming session. A majority of the new Democratic Senate campaigned on the legislation or were cosponsors in the last session, including Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), who spoke at the hearing about her own personal healthcare challenges. Statewide support of this legislation is growing, reflected in the 17 local cities, counties, and towns across New York that have already passed resolutions in support of the New York Health Act, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Kingston, and the counties of Rockland, Sullivan, and Tompkins.

 

The bill has been endorsed by the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association, Community Health Care Association of NYS,  Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, Doctors Council SEIU, NY chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, NYS AFL-CIO, 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East, 32BJ SEIU, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and 1179, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, Community Service Society, NYPIRG, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Disabled in Action, League of Women Voters, Make the Road NY, and many more.



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The Campaign for New York Health is a 501c4 organization dedicated to passing and implementing legislation for universal single-payer healthcare in New York State. We bring together over 150 organizations representing: community groups, labor unions, seniors, people with disabilities, nurses, teachers, patients, doctors, business leaders, faith groups, immigrants, and healthcare advocates, committed to the right to healthcare. Find out more at www.nyhcampaign.org

STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 470

 

“Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of the New York Health Act and chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “No one says they disagree with that. And the New York Health Act is the only plan that achieves that goal.”

 

"The New York Health Act is currently the only proposal that would create a more accessible, equitable, and affordable healthcare system for all New Yorkers, regardless of their wealth or immigration status,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “As the bill's Senate sponsor, I would like to thank City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for introducing the resolution in support of the New York Health Act and City Council Health Committee Chairman Mark Levine for holding this important hearing to further demonstrate the critical fiscal and public health benefits associated with this bill. I am committed to continue working with Assembly Member Richard Gottfried to make the New York Health Act a reality in New York State."

 

Every New Yorker deserves access to comprehensive healthcare. That's why I'm a co-sponsor of  New York Health Act, which will improve our healthcare system, lower costs, and shift the status quo once and for all. I thank Health Committee Chair Mark Levine for convening a hearing on this vital issue and look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues in the Majority to move this bill forward,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman

 

“Healthcare is a human right, and in New York State, despite its progressive reputation, we are failing thousands of people who are left without adequate care. Our state should be leading the way in providing comprehensive and affordable coverage by passing the NY Health Act and supporting those left behind in a system built for profit, not for people,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

 

“The New York Health Act will guarantee health care for all New Yorkers – regardless of immigration status – as it should be. No person should have to refrain from going to the hospital or getting medication because they don’t have health insurance or because the fees attached to their insurance are too high. This is a basic human right. And now, with the most progressive state Senate in New York’s history, there is no excuse. We must pass the New York Health Act,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Immigration Committee Chair.

 

"Now that Democrats are in full control of Albany, it is time that we finally pass the New York Health Act and guarantee health care for every single New Yorker. With insurance and hospital costs continuing to rise and no private solution in sight, it is clear that there is no issue more pressing this year. As Chair of the Council's Committee on Hospitals, I call on the state to follow the Council's proposed resolution and seriously consider this bill,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.

 

“I saw how having long-term care for some and not having it for others had a huge impact on the quality and length of my grandparents’ lives. So I’m committed to working to see that a single payer system includes comprehensive long-term care. And I urge the City Council to include that in their support for the New York Health Act,” said State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.

 

“On behalf of Mayor de Blasio, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments in support of the New York Health Act... In order to have thriving, healthy communities, every person must have access to health care...The City of New York supports the New York Health Act and we call upon the State Legislature and Governor to pass a single-payer health system in New York State.” said Oxiris Barbot, MD, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals.



"Although our current system fails us all, the poor and communities of color suffer the most. People of color and immigrants bear the brunt of the failure of our current fragmented, privatized system. Single payer promotes equity and stands to benefit especially those who have been left out and left behind. If you see health as a human right, you should support the NY Health Act," stated Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

“A single payer system will decrease the needless administrative costs of our current system, and allow us to devote our money and our time to meeting the health needs of the more than one million New Yorkers who rely on our services every year,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals.

 

"It is no secret that nurses are passionate advocates for an improved Medicare for All system in New York State and the country to meet the moral imperative of guaranteeing high quality healthcare for all. We want to guarantee that the progress we make toward healthcare for all lifts the boats for every working person in the state and the country," stated Marva Wade, RN, Board Member of the New York State Nurses Association

 

“As physicians, we constantly see the devastating consequences for patients without health insurance. But we also witness the epidemic of under-insurance. Saddled with unaffordable deductibles and co-payments, many patients with insurance -- like the uninsured -- are forced to delay seeking care, stop their medications, and show up at emergency rooms for basic care. The New York Health Act guarantees coverage for all the uninsured and eliminates deductibles and co-payments for the insured. It protects the health of everybody in New York State.” said Oliver Fein, MD, Physicians for a National Health Program

 

A single payer healthcare system is essential for guaranteeing health care for our many patients who can’t afford it,” said Dr. Jessica Edwards, National President of the Committee of Interns and Residents, affiliated with Service Employees International Union. “In 2018, no one should have to choose between their health and putting food on the table or having a roof over their head. The New York Health Act must also protect healthcare for our own members, building on our successes through decades of collective bargaining. We appreciate the willingness of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblymember Gottfried and Senator Rivera, to ensure that union members don’t lose any of our hard-fought gains.”

 

“Racial segregation continues to exist in our healthcare system, due to lasting effects of historical precedents as well as inequities baked into healthcare financing. This segregated care and unequal funding inevitably results in disparate health outcomes. By removing the financial maldistribution in our healthcare system, the New York Health Act will be a crucial step toward health justice.” said Daniel Neghassi, MD Member of the NYSAFP Board of Directors.

 

“The RWDSU believes that healthcare is a human right, and that there’s no better way to secure that right than by universal single payer healthcare,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “We stand by the City Council’s resolution in support of the Senate and Assembly bills that would create comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers. As a union that organizes low wage workers, we know how hard it is for working people to afford health care. We need to change the broken health care system now.”

 

"A universal health care system that fully includes long-term care will be a life-changer for seniors, people with disabilities, and all New Yorkers struggling to provide care for their loved ones. As the fastest growing healthcare need, and the benefit that even New Yorkers with good coverage currently lack almost across the board, a universal long-term care benefit will strengthen an already powerful bill," said Bobbie Sackman, an advocate with the New York Caring Majority.

 

“As New York City’s leading health care provider for low-income LGBTQ communities, Callen-Lorde emphatically urges the City Council to pass Resolution 470 in support of the New York Health Act.” said Dr. Peter Meacher, Chief Medical Officer for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. “LGBTQ people are more likely to be underinsured or uninsured. This lack of coverage compounds the multiple barriers to accessing healthcare this population faces contributing to well documented disparate, poor health outcomes. Stable, adequate coverage for all New Yorkers proposed in the New York Health Act will lead to improved health outcomes and lower longterm costs for LGBTQ people and everyone with a chronic health condition while allowing for more effective, accessible, preventative healthcare and public health interventions to improve the wellbeing of the entire population. A single payer health system in New York might not solve all our problems, but will go a long way toward advancing health, economic and racial equity.”

 

“More than 400,000 New Yorkers remain uninsured because of their immigration status. The New York Health Act's universal coverage would be a vast improvement over our current discriminatory system. It is time to pass the New York Health Act and create equal coverage for all New Yorkers," said Max Hadler, Director of Health Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition.

 

"With the seemingly unending onslaught of attacks against immigrant communities, most recently with the threat of chilling changes to the public charge rule, African Services applauds the leadership and moral authority shown today by Speaker Corey Johnson with the introduction of Resolution 470. Res. 470 and the establishment of a universal single payer health system, will ensure all New Yorkers — regardless of immigration status —access to the basic human right of quality healthcare", said Amanda Lugg, Director of Advocacy at African Services Committee.    

 

“Nearly half of Asian American New Yorkers lack the basic income to make ends meet, and 1 in 5 Asian New Yorkers do not health insurance. Even our community members that do have health insurance struggle to afford needed medical care," said Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council. "In today’s climate, many immigrants are shying away from health insurance for fear it will hurt their immigration status. Passing the New York Health Act is one of the most powerful things that New York State can do to protect immigrant New Yorkers."

 

“I believe strongly that creating conditions for health wellbeing require many solutions. Single payer legislation in New York State would provide an important step to improve access to comprehensive care regardless of income, pre-existing conditions or ability to pay — an extremely important achievement that would benefit many,” says Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System. “As a Medicare for All advocate I know insurance alone does not solve the serious, persistent and growing health equity problems we have with health outcomes in NYC. But we can not continue to have a health care system that is about profits and not people”.

 

“We see this resolution as a critical statement on the importance of universal, affordable, and accessible health care for all New Yorkers,” said Emily Miles, Chief Program and Policy Officer at FPWA. “Healthcare is one of the top challenges to achieving economic equity and the New York Health Act would not only improve universal comprehensive health coverage for every New Yorker but could potentially save billions. The time to act is now to ensure that all New Yorkers can access quality, affordable care.”

 

“The APA community continues to have the highest linguistic isolation and poverty rates in New York,” say Vanessa Leung and Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Directors of Coalition for Asian American Children & Families, “Due to language and cultural barriers, complications with or lack of immigration status, and the stigma of using public benefits, health coverage is an especially challenging issue for APAs.  The New York Health Act will provide universal health coverage, removing barriers to accessing care and providing residents with more quality and comprehensive benefits.”

 

"I am the mother of a nine-year-old boy who desperately needs New York State to pass the New York Health Act. Seven years ago, my perfectly healthy and typically developing almost-three-year-old son woke up having a seizure. He was admitted to our neighborhood hospital where over the next week and a half we watched him lose his ability to walk, talk, swallow, focus his eyes, and reliably breathe. He was eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune encephalitis. About two months into what turned out to be a fifteen-month hospitalization, I started receiving calls from the billing office for all of the doctors practicing at the hospital, to ask why I kept choosing out-of-network providers. I was informed that while the hospital had a contract with our insurance, the doctors did not. In truth, I did not have a single choice of provider while my son was in-patient and seen by whomever happened to be on service. Our lives since the onset of his illness have been a maddening maze of healthcare bureaucracies. Like many diseases, our son’s unpredictable illness could happen to anyone, at any time. My son, my husband and I are counting on our elected officials, both here and in Albany, to harness the political will to finally pass the New York Health Act,” said Sandra Stein, New Yorker and Mother.

 

“I am a native New Yorker who owns her own small business that is too small to have a health insurance plan but pays more taxes than some major corporations. My company spends around seven figures a year in my beloved city and as a "freelancer" I can no longer get a PPO or even a good health insurance plan. I can't even get close to the quality of health insurance my elected officials get. I am one of over four million freelancers in New York who are falling through the cracks,” said small business owner Dana Offenbach, Owner of CinemaStreet Pictures, LLC.

 

"New York's seniors are facing the most extreme financial insecurity in decades with healthcare costs consuming upwards of 20 percent of their incomes. Furthermore, those who need long-term care services must first impoverish themselves in order to be eligible for Medicaid. We know there is a better way: an improved "Medicare for All" system. Statewide Senior Action Council applauds the Assembly for passing the NY Health Act, reaffirming their support for a healthcare system that is truly affordable and meets the needs of New York's seniors," said Maria Alvarez, Executive Director, New York Statewide Senior Action Council.

 

“Disabled In Action of Metropolitan NY believes there is a great need for the NY Health Act and we would like to see it include support for long-term care so people with disabilities can get needed care and live up to our potential,” said Jean Ryan of Disabled In Action.

 

“Each year I see more medical students joining the fight for single payer healthcare,” said Alec Feuerbach, coordinator of the nine medical school chapters of Students for a National Health Program in the Metro New York area. “I believe the reason for this is simple. We are in medical school because we want to help people, but every day we see patients facing an impossible dilemma: go without needed care, or go bankrupt trying to pay for it. The New York Health Act would allow us to return to our core purpose of becoming healers.”

 

“The Academy of Medical & Public Health Services is a public health not-for-profit providing health access and care coordination services for immigrants who are ineligible for health insurance in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Far too often, our community members forgo critical care due to the lack of health coverage -- even when it means suffering from the pain of a fractured molar for years that in turn affects their ability to maintain a healthy diet and leading to a number of other health issues like anemia, osteoporosis, and diabetes; or even if it means living with high blood pressure without the necessary medications, placing them at the risk of experiencing eventual heart failure. Healthcare is not a privilege, but a basic human right.” said Mon Yuck Yu, MPA, Executive Vice President & Chief of Staff.

 

“Within New York City, the Bronx has the largest percentage of adults without health insurance (22%) and the largest percentage of adults going without needed medical care (12%),” said Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director for Bronx Health REACH at the Institute for Family Health. “The New York Health Act would remove one of the biggest barriers to healthcare access, enabling more Bronx residents to live healthier, longer lives."



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LETTER: Rebutting the myths about single payer health care, Edward F. McKee, Buffalo News

By Edward F. McKee, October 31, 2018

The recent letter to this column written by Alfred J. Wright, government affairs manager for HealthNow New York Inc., concerning the catastrophic economic and health care consequences to New York residents and to the entire nation should either go to a single payer health plan does not deserve to go unanswered before Election Day.

First, to put things in perspective a little about HealthNow New York Inc. and who they really represent: BlueCross Blue Shield is a division of HealthNow NY, which is a subsidiary of Health Now Systems Inc., a privately held company. Who do you think privately held conglomerates such as this one really represent and what do they stand to lose should we citizens inside of New York and beyond ever obtain a health care system that works for everyone and can be made affordable? Relying on industry spin doctors such as Wright is not the solution to our health care woes.

I would like to rebut two of the major reasons cited for why a single payer plan will not work:

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LETTER: He won a Nobel Prize, but couldn't afford health care, David Knapp, Riverdale Press

By DAVID KNAPP, October 28,  2018

Raised in the Bronx and a graduate of James Monroe High School,  Nobel Prize winner Leon Lederman died peacefully at 96 in an Idaho care home earlier this month of complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

With two other American physicists, Lederman received the prize for uncovering new particles that enhanced our understanding of the fundamental universe.

All the obituaries worldwide heralded Lederman as breaking ground for further discoveries, but also as a scientist who made the often obscure world of physics clear to the general public. But every newspaper — in the United States and abroad — noted that his family sold his prize medal (auctioned it on the internet for $765,000) to pay for his mounting medical bills, and for the cost of a nursing home in Idaho near the town where he and his wife were living when he retired.

So there are two stories here...

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #19, Elizabeth Kelly, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Elizabeth Kelly, October 29, 2018

Profits Before Patients?  

What I learned from reading the Healthcare series in thisistheBronX

You may think Big Pharma profits don’t affect you but, in truth, we are all are paying bruising amounts — in taxes, in public health metrics, in harm to our democratic institutions — so that our largest pharmaceutical companies can pocket profit margins THREE TIMES LARGER than other Fortune 500 companies. And what do all these statistics have to do with the stories in This is the Bronx?

Big Pharma makes record-setting profits even after subtracting massive sums for marketing, hundreds of millions in executive compensation, tens of billions on stock buybacks to make investors richer and, of course, more hundreds of millions on campaign donations and lobbying than any other sector.

How can this be? Let’s begin with just one very public example that put a spotlight on why I support NY Health (“Improved Medicare for All New Yorkers”), a state bill that will bring affordable universal healthcare coverage, and rein in Big Pharma — much as every other developed country has, just as our own Veteran’s Administration has.

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