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ARTICLE: We Don’t Need Private Health Insurance, Adam Gaffney, The Nation

By Adam Gaffney, March 3, 2019

Does achieving “Medicare for All” mean mostly eliminating private health insurance? Single-payer proponents say yes: After all, if a public plan provides comprehensive, no-deductible coverage for everyone, nobody would want—much less be willing pay for—duplicative private coverage.

Yet candidates who previously embraced single-payer sometimes seem a bit unsure. For instance, Senator Cory Booker, who co-sponsored Senator Bernie Sanders’s single-payer plan back in 2017, was asked whether he would “do away with private health care” recently, and he responded, “Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care, so no.”

There are actually two distinct questions wrapped into one here. First is whether we want a universal public plan for everyone, or a hodgepodge of public and private plans that cover different parts of the population according to age, income, workplace, disability, and so forth, but that together cover everyone. Last year in Dissent, I made the case that a nation like ours—with enormous unmet medical needs, an inadequate safety net, and galling inequality—is a poor fit with a multi-payer system that divides the population into a hierarchy of public and private plans with inequitable levels of access, varied copays and deductibles, and unequal benefits and provider networks. This would never achieve the equity, universality, or efficiency of a public plan that provides complete coverage to everyone. …

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VIEWPOINT: Support the NY Health Act, Barbara Dyskant, Olean Times Herald

By Barbara Dyskant, March 3, 2019

Friends, I urge you to support the New York Health Act for universal single-payer (government-paid) healthcare for every New Yorker, with no deductibles or co-pays, introduced in the state Senate and Assembly this year.

Last year the measure passed the Assembly and now has good prospects in the Senate.

Lives and health depend on it and, economically, it benefits both individuals and businesses

Of importance, the NY Health Act fully covers not only “medical” care but also dental, hearing, vision and long-term care, essential needs not covered in most policies or under Medicare. Consider this, and the consequences of going without, when comparing NY health with our current system. We are the only civilized country in the world not to provide universal healthcare to everyone, rich or poor. Morally and economically, it is simply the right thing to do.

NY Health would give doctors more time and energy to care for you, and to prescribe what you need. Handling insurance is time-consuming for our physicians and us….

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LETTER: Don't wait to revamp health care, Berel Lang, Riverdale Press

In his new state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included a line item recommendation for a commission to study options for “universal access to high-quality, affordable health care in New York.”  Where has the governor been in the past several years? In that time, two highly qualified commissions have studied and reported their findings on the New York Health Act that has been voted on in the New York legislature.

That “universal” and “high-quality care” plan was passed in the Assembly for four consecutive years.  It was stymied in the Republican-majority senate with the help of Gov. Cuomo himself.

In its recent report, the distinguished and politically centrist Rand Corp., concluded that the New York Health Act — which, among other things, includes long-term care — will not only be generally affordable, including for the more than 10 million New Yorkers presently under- or uninsured, but will also save money for 90 percent of New Yorkers covered by it.

Gov. Cuomo’s foot dragging on the bill is based ostensibly on his vow not to raise taxes — which, in the case of the New York Health Act, is a red herring in sheep’s clothing....

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LETTER: Don't wait to revamp health care, Berel Lang, Riverdale Press

In his new state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included a line item recommendation for a commission to study options for “universal access to high-quality, affordable health care in New York.”  Where has the governor been in the past several years? In that time, two highly qualified commissions have studied and reported their findings on the New York Health Act that has been voted on in the New York legislature.

That “universal” and “high-quality care” plan was passed in the Assembly for four consecutive years.  It was stymied in the Republican-majority senate with the help of Gov. Cuomo himself.

In its recent report, the distinguished and politically centrist Rand Corp., concluded that the New York Health Act — which, among other things, includes long-term care — will not only be generally affordable, including for the more than 10 million New Yorkers presently under- or uninsured, but will also save money for 90 percent of New Yorkers covered by it.

Gov. Cuomo’s foot dragging on the bill is based ostensibly on his vow not to raise taxes — which, in the case of the New York Health Act, is a red herring in sheep’s clothing....

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LETTER: Is single-payer health care here? Helen Meltzer-Krim, Riverdale Press

By Helen Meltzer-Krim, February 25, 2019

I am a moderate Democrat, and I have voted for our governor every time he has run.

But we can no longer afford to pay for private insurance health care when a third of people with insurance can’t access health care because of copays, deductibles and insurance company profits.

All the major studies show that single-payer is the best way to pay for universal health care. The governor’s commission to “study” universal health care is an irresponsible waste of money which should be used to start planning for the New York Health Act....

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150 Medical Students & Allies Rally Against Drug Industry Price-Gouging and Anti-Single-Payer Deception

 

Photos by: Brandon Cuicchi, Erik McGregor, and Jeff Mikkelson

Video by Mike D'Elia (2 rallies & march; times marked)

#Big Pharma Greed Kills Fact Sheet here.

 

 

(New York, NY – March 3, 2019)  Over 150 medical students, doctors, nurses, and their supporters held a rousing protest rally today outside the world headquarters of Pfizer, one of the world’s largest drug companies. At the beginning of this year, the corporate giant announced price increases for 40 of its drugs. The demonstration came amidst growing public outrage over sky-high drug prices – including a recent U.S. Senate hearing where industry executives were grilled by about their huge salaries and inflated research costs.

“We’re here today because we’re literally sick and tired of being ripped off by big drug companies like Pfizer that rake in huge profits off our backs and out of our  wallets,” said Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro Health Care for All Campaign. “Their greed has got to stop, and we need our government to step in to take control of the situation and protect patients.” As protesters marched from Pfizer’s office to the New York Public Library, some distributed pill bottles to passersby with labels marked “#PharmaGreedKills,” as well as “Rx#: BANKRUPTCY,” and “Physician: Dr. Limited Choice.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One in four U.S. families have difficulty paying for their prescription medications. To make matters worse, per capita spending on prescription drugs, already the highest in the world, is expected to nearly double in the coming decade,” said Dimitri Akrivos, spokesperson for the event’s organizer, Picket the Profiteers. “It is time to end this national crisis by enacting a single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system that includes sensible drug pricing regulation.”

Overall the pharmaceutical industry – the most profitable in the world – has hiked prices by an average of 6.3% so far this year. Their continued price-gouging causes many patients to limit or go without the medicines they need because they can’t afford them, causing people to suffer with continued illness and even die.

“Insulin marked the beginning of modern medical progress and turned the once fatal disease into a chronic illness. Yet this medicine – estimated to cost less than $10 to manufacture – is now one of the seven most expensive liquids in the world,” said Marina Tsaplina, #insulin4all patient activist, and founder of THE BETES. “People with diabetes and many other diseases are dying because we have allowed a system of greed to develop. Our bodies have been turned into mere sources of profit for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.”

The updated New York Health Act introduced in the New York State Legislature and the new Medicare for All Act just introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would establish guaranteed, universal publicly-funded (single-payer) healthcare systems, at the state and federal level respectively, that would cover all prescription costs and require drug companies to negotiate bulk discounts. The protesters condemned Pfizer and its insurance industry and other big-business allies for using campaign contributions, lobbying muscle, and deceptive misinformation about these bills to preserve their lucrative business models that deny medications and care to millions.

“We are organizing a movement to hold corporate actors like Pfizer accountable for the lives they put in jeopardy while they continue to chase profits for their shareholders,” said Katie Robbins, Director of the Campaign for New York Health. “Our demand for a single-payer universal healthcare program as embodied in the New York Health Act is powerful because it will make sure that the people’s needs and the ability to access life-saving drugs come before a corporation’s profits.”

The protest was organized in conjunction with a national conference of the 73-chapter Students for a National Health Program held this weekend at Columbia University. The group is an affiliate of Physicians for a National Health Program, a national organization of health professionals who advocate for single-payer healthcare programs at the state and federal level.

“Four years ago when I was turned away from getting a much-needed dental surgery because I couldn't pay for it, I never imagined I'd become a medical student who one day would be fighting to make sure that never happens to anyone again,” said Robertha Barnes, National Board Member of Students for a National Health Program and a second-year MS/MD student at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. “The New York Health Act and federal Medicare for All bills call for healthcare systems designed to serve patients and not the executives and stockholders of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. We need to make our voices heard so that justice is given to those who’ve had to forgo lifesaving drugs because they couldn't afford them, and those who’ve had to file for bankruptcy because of unaffordable medical bills.”

“Doctors across the country are tired of insurance companies denying access to care for our patients, and pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer inflating their prices so high that patients can't take their medicines,” said Dr. Roona Ray, a family physician and board member of Physicians for a National Health Program – New York Metro. “Everyone suffers, but communities of color are suffering more. I am tired of practicing in the segregated health system that the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals create. No more haves and have-nots. We in Physicians for a National Health Program support the New York Health Act and the Medicare for All Act nationally because these bills will end the stranglehold that these companies have on our patients' lives."

“One of the most frustrating parts of being a doctor is when you and your patient both know what the best treatment is but insurance coverage stands in the way. We have the medicine needed to end AIDS and prevent any further transmission of HIV, but it's too expensive to be used as widely as it should be,” said Dr. Abigail Lofchie, representative of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)/New York. “The US government has to stop letting pharmaceutical companies like Gilead profiteer off health crises and should instead Break the Patent that allows for monopoly pricing. And the New York State Legislature and Congress need to pass single-payer legislation that will require government negotiations to put the brakes on pharma's price-gouging.”

   

Picket the Profiteers is a grassroots direct action project formed in 2018 to fight for a single-payer healthcare program by confronting and calling out the vested special interests who control and profit off the current medical system. In November, 40 activists picketed and disrupted an insurance industry conference that featured top lobbyists from the misnamed, corporate-funded Realities of Single Payer Coalition who were purveying false information to discredit the New York Health Act.

Based out of the Campaign for New York Health, Picket the Profiteers is cosponsored by these cosponsoring organizations:

  • ACT UP/NY
  • Democratic Socialists of America
  • Fight Back Bay Ridge
  • Healthcare Equity Action League of New York
  • International Action Center
  • International Socialist Organization NYC
  • Metro New York Health Care for All
  • Peoples Power Assembly
  • Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro
  • Rise and Resist
  • Students for a National Health Program
  • Uptown Progressive Action
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COMMENTARY: Medical students for single-payer health care, Danziger, Feuerbach & Sklar, Times-Union

By Michael Danziger, Alec Feuerbach and Kelsey Sklar, February 20, 2019

Medical students begin their training with optimism and a desire to help others. If we didn't, there would be no point in subjecting ourselves to such grueling training. As students, we have a unique view of the health care system: as outsiders open to new ideas and not jaded by years of exposure, and as insiders who will soon practice within the system and want the best for our future patients. 

With this perspective, we, and many other medical students, advocate for a single-payer health care system — one in which the government, rather than private insurance companies, is solely responsible for reimbursement — both in New York with the New York Health Act and for the country as a whole.

The facts are simple: the United States spends more per capita on health care than any other country in the world and ranks last among peer nations in quality, efficiency and access. Reform is needed, but not all strategies for universal coverage are equal....

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LETTER to Politicians: What It is Like to Be Disabled in America, Candice Hildebrant, Medium

By Candice Hildebrant, February 17, 2019

I am one of the many people in America who is suffering from the broken healthcare system we have in our country right now.

Every single day of my life I have to fight against my multiple chronic illnesses. It is a daily struggle that sometimes I win, and many times I lose. I fight these battles every single day, and … government has turned a blind eye to the many, many New Yorkers, and even more Americans outside NY, like me, who are in dire straits due to mounting health care costs and coverage gaps that we are saddled with. My family and I are in trouble, and our government officials, who have been elected to speak for me, and guide our state, and country to a better way, are failing me and those like me. …

In January of 2014 I went to my family doctor, after having been sick for days. I wasn’t able to breathe, my chest ached and I felt so sick — I thought I had the flu. I was given different medications and told to rest. A week later I was back in my doctor’s office, having gotten worse. Again I was given more medication and told to rest. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t get out of bed, I was so sick my husband wanted to take me to the hospital then and there. But, we didn’t go — it would cost just too much money, and after all — it is just the flu….

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LETTER: Everyone deserves care, regardless of condition, Angela Kelschenbach, Buffalo News

Angela Kelschenbach, February 18, 2019

Survivors. Maybe you are one, maybe you know one. You’ve persisted and continued despite a devastating diagnosis. Congratulate yourselves. Now support those that are dealing with some of the same issues today. 

Before the Affordable Care Act, you could have been denied insurance or you could have maxed out of benefits because of treatments. 

Did you benefit? Yes. 

The costs of medical treatments for disease/ conditions are still out of reach for some. We can do better. No one deserves a disease. Everyone deserves health care. ...

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ARTICLE: Can single-payer health care work in NY?Chris McKenna, Times Herald (Middletown)

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….

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EDITORIAL: Patience is a healthy virtue, Riverdale Press

by the Editorial Board, February 17, 2019

Right after taking her oath of office to become our community’s next state senator, Alessandra Biaggi tapped the brakes ever so slightly on what could be one of the most important pieces of legislation in our generation: the New York Health Act.

And she is absolutely right to do so.

The New York Health Act will change everything we know about health care in this state, including how it’s paid for. Unless some other state beats us to the punch, the experiment to create a single-payer system where everyone is covered without opening their wallets or purses (except at tax time) will be conducted in our very city, our very neighborhoods.

While many in this state want to see single-payer succeed, there are so many more who want it to crash and burn. And any misstep, any speed bump, any hurdle will be amplified in such ways as showing this system is a failure out the gate.

We can’t afford to let that happen. While no plan won’t be without its warts, the better we anticipate those problems, the better we can mitigate them….

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #30, Silvia Blumenfeld, This Is the Bronx

by Silvia Blumenfeld, February 11, 2019

I thought I knew how to navigate the healthcare system until I found myself lost in the maze

The main focus of this series has been on the double indemnity of health crises and financial troubles. Stories have focused on how the expense of healthcare has led to trauma beyond the illness itself. Even people with costly insurance have found themselves one illness away from bankruptcy. Today’s story by someone whose career involved advocating for patients found herself caught not so much by her personal financial expense but by the impact of the current system on the delivery of care: a broken system has added costs (physical, psychological and fiscal) that impact everyone.

A few years ago, I officially retired from the healthcare field where I worked for over forty years in various venues ranging from long term care to acute psychiatric settings. Often in the facilities where I practiced, I functioned as a case manager. When I retired, I served as a volunteer Long a Long Term Care Ombudsman—part of a state run program, (LTCOP) 

Using my professional experience, I served as an advocate and resource for persons who live in nursing homes, adult homes and other licensed residential care facilities. Ombudsmen help residents and their families understand and exercise their rights to quality of care and quality of life. The program promotes and protects residents’ health, safety, welfare and legal positions by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints made by, or on behalf of, residents. By supporting resident and family councils, and by informing governmental agencies, providers and the general public about issues and concerns impacting residents of long-term care facilities, Ombudsman services work to effect real change. These services are free of charge….

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #29, Barbara Kloss, This Is the Bronx

By Barbara Kloss, February 4, 2019

Trying Not to Die Right Now 

This week’s story by a recovering alcoholic details her journey from a happy childhood, through a series of careers, with increasingly serious alcoholism. Now committed to recovery and embarked on a new career, her story looks backwards from today.

Why is this story so important? Addiction is an illness that demands attention. And addiction has reached epidemic proportions. The opioid epidemic is the greatest American public health crisis in decades, arguably since the emergence of AIDS. Opioids kill 130 people a day across the U.S, many in the Bronx. 

The problem is urgent “It’s frustrating …,” said an opioid addict to a Politico reporter, “I need help now. I’m trying not to die right now.” 

Today

As a recovering addict, seeking to serve as a Wellness Consultant, I know healthcare disparities firsthand. Fixing those disparities (with the same urgency as treating, say, cancer) involves recognizing addiction as a health problem, like every other illness. Only removing the stigma from alcoholism and substance abuse will allow us to address these conditions systematically — and effectively....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #28: David & Goliath II, Estrin & Esterquest, This Is the Bronx

By Judith B. Esterquest & Barbara Estrin, Jan 28, 2019

A David and Goliath Story Part II: The Big Guns Come Out Swinging — With Lies — Our Strategy: Dispel the Myths With Facts

New Democratic majorities in Albany and the US Congress campaigned on “Medicare-for-All,” causing health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to begin bankrolling massive propaganda campaigns — and increasing their record-setting expenditures on lobbyists, political donations, and dark money. “Health sector” titans seek to push Single Payer off the playing field by labeling it “extreme,” despite 70% of Americans supporting it. 

Last week The Washington Post reported that insurance industry leaders plan to “ramp up advertising and lobbying” to “convince Americans that a single-payer system would deeply hurt their access to vital health-care services.” Healthcare economists say this is false but journalists quote “both sides” (in “false equivalence”). So we’re seeing special-interest “alternative facts” muddy almost every discussion.

The money war is woefully asymmetrical:  at both the state and federal levels. …

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #26: David & Goliath, Estrin & Esterquest, This Is the Bronx

By Judith Esterquest & Barbara Estrin, Jan 24, 2019

A David and Goliath Battle: Strategies for Winning the New York Health Plan

November’s NY State Senate contest was a rout— the Democrats slam-dunked the Republicans, creating a completely transformed playing field in Albany. Team Dems, with 40 psyched for the opening bell on January 9th, are one vote shy of a super-majority, dominance they’ve long held in the Assembly, completing their statewide trifecta (with Cuomo). Team Dem has 15 newbies in the line-up joining 25 incumbents. The 23-member Team GOP has only 2 newbies in their line-up and have lost serious star power such as Jeff Klein, Kemp Hannon, Golden, and others.

Did NYC play to win? We crushed it! Seven of the Dem rookies hail from NYC, joining another 4 from Long Island. If you worried about the IDC last spring, that wicked-witch troupe of monkeys is history, only one of their member not having fallen in September, overcome by six exciting new players — wearing deeply progressive blue shirts — who took their battle cry for health justice and social justice to victory in November. Let’s put in neon how historic this is: Team Dems have controlled the NY Senate only 3 years since World War II. 

Can they learn to play like winners? They’ve had 60 years practicing sitting on the senate backbench and honing insults — rarely invited into the back room where legislation is written...

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VIEWPOINT: Single-Payer Health Care System that Works for All NYers, Rivera, Gotham Gazette

By Gus Rivera & Karla Lawrence, Feb 11, 2019

In November, New Yorkers voted for a united government in Albany with a resounding directive: fix our broken healthcare system. Those election results are directly linked to the financial strain New Yorkers are facing as they struggle to choose between paying for their medication, premiums, long-term care, and basic needs, such as food or housing.

The high costs of healthcare in our state have devastated hundreds of thousands of New York families by bankrupting those who are underinsured or forcing them to forgo treatment due to the financial burden it usually causes. According to the Campaign for New York Health, approximately 1 million New Yorkers still do not have health insurance; 20,000 New Yorkers have died due to their lack of coverage in the last ten years; and millions more would be bankrupt if faced with a medical emergency under their current health care plan.

The New York Health Act (NYHA) is the only option on the table that would provide comprehensive healthcare coverage to all New Yorkers. It would extend coverage to those that currently have no access while providing quality and comprehensive care to New Yorkers who have been traditionally underinsured….

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ARTICLE: Dems are taking a crack at frozen legislation, Jeremy Moule, Rochester City

By Jeremy Moule, Jan 23, 2019

For most of the past four decades, there's been a reliable power dynamic in Albany. Democrats controlled the Assembly, Republicans controlled the Senate, and the two chambers went back and forth on budgets and legislation until there was either compromise, stalemate, or some other form of inaction….

Health care

New York needs to improve its health care system. On that fundamental premise, there's wide agreement across party and ideological spectrums. But lawmakers, progressive and conservative organizations, business groups, health care providers, and think tanks differ on what fixes need to be made.

… But single-payer advocates are unlikely to embrace the governor's proposal and will instead rally around the New York Health Act, which the Assembly has voted on and passed in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The Senate has never voted on it. (The bill hasn't yet been reintroduced in either chamber.) 

"Right now, we have a health system that rations care based on who has the ability to pay and leaves out a lot of vulnerable groups from getting health care that they need, and in the process is very wasteful," says Rohith Palli, a medical student at the University of Rochester who's active with Rochester for NY Health, the local affiliate of the statewide Campaign for New York Health….

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ARTICLE: Learn About NY Single-Payer Health Care Proposal Sunday, Lanning Taliferro, Nanuet Patch

By Lanning Taliaferro, Feb 7, 2019

The riddle of how to address rising health care costs and gaps in coverage is an urgent topic that state and federal government officials struggle with as much as the families they serve. 

The New York Health Act, a state health care bill advancing the idea of a single-payer system — sometimes called Medicare for all — has gained a lot of traction and generated a lot of debate. Would such a universal health care bill deliver all the benefits that advocates say it could? Or are critics right to argue that the cons and unknowns are being downplayed too much?

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ARTICLE: On the N.Y. Health Care Act, Johnette Howard, East Hampton Star

By Johnette Howard | February 7, 2019 - 1:27pm

The riddle of how to address rising health care costs and gaps in coverage is an urgent topic that state and federal government officials struggle with as much as the families they serve. 

The New York Health Act, a state health care bill advancing the idea of a single-payer system — sometimes called Medicare for all — has gained a lot of traction and generated a lot of debate. Would such a universal health care bill deliver all the benefits that advocates say it could? Or are critics right to argue that the cons and unknowns are being downplayed too much?

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VIEWPONT: Who says we can’t afford Medicare for All? Gerald Friedman, Daily Hampshire Gazette

By Gerald Friedman, Feb 4, 2019

Richard Fein’s Jan. 28 column raises important questions about Medicare for All in Massachusetts. It is unfortunate, however, that my colleague failed to consult much of the relevant documentation addressing many of the questions.

To begin with, the central question is not whether we can afford a better and cheaper health care system, but whether we can continue to pay for the current system with all its inefficiencies and inequities. A raft of studies from scholars on the political right and center have shown that a Medicare for All system would cost less than the current fragmented insurance system even while providing universal coverage to every resident. It is not just proponents of Medicare for All who believe that billions can be saved. The right-wing, Koch-brothers-funded Mercatus Center found a Medicare for All system would over 10 years lower health care spending by over 3 percent, $2 trillion in savings, even while covering every American without co-pays or deductibles. The RAND Corporation studied a proposed single-payer system for New York state and supported my findings that it would lower spending even while providing universal access and universal coverage, and dramatically increasing employment and economic activity in the state. Studies have similarly concluded that single-payer systems would save money even while providing better health care in Oregon (RAND), Ohio (Friedman), Washington (Friedman), California (PERI), among many others. No serious study has ever found that single-payer would raise total costs....

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ARTICLE: NYHA sponsors dismiss Cuomo's 'universal access' study panel, Niedzwiadek, Politico Pro

By Nick Niedzwiadek, Feb 5, 2019

The sponsors of a bill to create a single-payer health care system in New York are not hiding their disdain for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed commission to study ways to achieve universal health care access. 

The governor's health budget bill included few details on the proposed commission, other than that it would hold at least one public meeting and would report its findings to the departments of Health and Financial Services no later than Dec. 1, 2019. It did not outline the number of commission members, nor did it specify if the Legislature would be able to appoint people to serve on it. 

"It seems like it's just something you're putting forward to say you're thinking about it, but not really," state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), the Senate Health chairman, said during a budget hearing on Tuesday. 

His counterpart, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan) — who's carried the New York Health Act for decades — joked that he had a nickname for the proposed commission that's not suitable for "polite company."

"Don't spend too much time explaining it to people, because I don't think it's going to exist in the budget when it's passed," Gottfried told a representative of the Department of Financial Services who testified Tuesday. 

A RAND Corp. study published last year found that a single-payer health system was financially feasible in New York, though it included a number of modeling assumptions — such as an unprecedented waiver to redirect billions in health care funds to the new system — that are unlikely under the Trump administration. 

For his part, Cuomo has called a universal health care system a "good idea," but one that would be more realistically implemented on the federal, not state, level. 

To view online

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ARTICLE: Cure for Failing Health Care, Johnette Howard, East Hampton Star

By Johnette Howard, February 14, 2019

The longer the discussion continued, the clearer it became that neither the panelists nor the audience at a New York Health Act forum on Saturday afternoon had come to debate the merits of the proposed bill. Rather, they had come to talk about why it finally needs to become law. 

The panelists at the event, held at the Stony Brook Southampton campus, spoke about the bill’s revolutionary promises and lamented “misinformation” campaigns against it that, they said, were motivated primarily by a simple fear of change. And the audience, judging by the questions asked of the panel, seemed to find little downside to the bill, which was reintroduced in the New York State Assembly on Monday....

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ARTICLE: NY Health Forum Set for Feb 9, Beth Young, East End Beacon

By Beth Young, Feb 3, 2019

Progressive groups from throughout the East End are holding a forum on “A Healthier New York for ALL” on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Drew Lecture Hall at Stony Brook University’s Southampton Campus.

The forum will give advocates for the New York Health Act a chance to discuss how they hope providing a public health care program, dubbed “Medicare for All,” can dramatically alter the way New Yorkers pay for health care.

At 1:30 p.m. there will be a moderated panel discussion with Assemblymember Fred Thiele, Prof. Martha Livingston, Chair of the Public Health Dept. at SUNY, Old Westbury; Robert Chaloner, Southampton Hospital President; Michael Hynes, Superintendent of Patchogue-Medford Schools and Jackie Romero, Nurses’ Union. The panel will be moderated by PEER member Cheryl Cashin, a health economist and managing director at Results for Development Institute who has 20 years experience designing and implementing health financing policy for health systems in low- and middle-income countries.

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LETTER: New Yorkers Need Health Coverage, Eric Gemunder, Newsday

By Eric Gemunder, Jan. 25, 2019

I am broke due to medical expenses, and I am not alone.

My out-of-pocket, unreimbursed medical expenses for 2013-17 exceeded $56,500, not including my monthly premium. That’s more than $11,000 a year, or over $940 a month, every month, for five years. Calculating my preliminary costs for 2018, my expenses will again exceed $11,000....

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Lawmakers Reintroduce the New York Health Act;

Advocates Celebrate Inclusion of Long-Term Care and Support Services

The bill is now amended to include long-term care and support services, making it the most comprehensive, progressive, state-level universal healthcare bill in the country

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Albany, NY—Advocates celebrated the reintroduction of the New York Health Act [A.5248, S.3577] today, calling attention to its highly-anticipated revision to include long-term care and support services. This development is the result of years of organizing by women, seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, home care workers, unions, undocumented people, and the uninsured who worked with supportive elected officials to include these necessary services as a key component of the benefit package of the proposed universal healthcare system. Eighty-one Assembly Members and twenty-two Senators were listed as original cosponsors on the bill upon reintroduction.

“We estimate that there are approximately 44 million unpaid family caregivers in the US providing almost 90% of care. Home care workers provide the rest. Out of two million home care workers, 90% are women, 53% are women of color. As the population of older adults in New York and across the United States rises, so does the imperative need for caregiving and an improved system of providing long-term care. That is why inclusion of long-term care in single-payer is such a visionary step. It places true value on services and supports to enable aging adults and people with disabilities to access the full scope of care.” Rachel McCullough, co-director of the New York Caring Majority.

After passing the New York Health Act in the Assembly four years in a row with overwhelming support, advocates are optimistic that it will begin to move through the legislative process in the Senate. The respective chairs of the Senate and Assembly Health Committees and lead sponsors of the bill, Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, pledged to hold public hearings after the budget to further advance the debate.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, particularly women, are being suffocated by the financial burden placed on them as they provide long-term care for their loved ones,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee and sponsor of the bill. “By covering long-term care in the New York Health Act, we are aiming to provide aging adults and people with disabilities access to the quality care they need while providing financial relief for hard-working families in our state and dramatically improving the system for those who provide care. I look forward to continue working together with my colleagues and key stakeholders to make healthcare a right and not a privilege in New York State."

“Long-term care is an intolerable drain on family finances and a burden on thousands of family caregivers – disproportionately women – who provide unpaid care to  family members,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of the bill. “We can cover long-term care, providing dignity and financial security to millions of aging and disabled New Yorkers, under a progressive public financing model.  Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, including long-term supports and services, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it.”

While the Governor has expressed support for a single-payer ‘Medicare for All’ system at the federal level, he has not yet lent support to the state-level proposal. Advocates point out that the RAND Corporation’s analysis of the bill found that with long-term care services included in the benefit package, a single-payer system as described in the NY Health Act will cost less than the current system overall, while also improving the lives of people who currently must impoverish themselves to be eligible for Medicaid in order to access long-term care services.

“1199SEIU caregivers understand all too well the access barriers that many New Yorkers face to healthcare,” said Gabby Seay, 1199SEIU’s Political Action Director.  “As our population ages, and the demand for long-term care undoubtedly increases, it will be imperative that we have measures in place to ensure that New Yorkers are able to receive the care they need.  We commend Senator Rivera and Assembly Member Gottfried for their commitment to our shared vision of healthcare access for all New Yorkers.

Nurses are on the front line of patient care, well aware that healthcare access is not simply a matter of who is insured and who is not," said Marva Wade, RN and New York State Nurses Association Board Member. "A crisis exists for many of our insured patients struggling to afford the co-pays, deductibles, out-of-network charges, and shifting RX formularies. This results in wasted resources spent navigating this profit-driven system, not to mention limited health access and poor health outcomes. The New York Health Act is the cure for this broken healthcare system!"

“By passing the NY Health Act, we will be on a clear path to truly universal, affordable healthcare -- more comprehensive than any existing plan or proposal with inclusion of long-term care benefits. Passing the bill will trigger an implementation process that sets up commissions to address transition issues, financing, negotiation of reimbursement, and regional access issues. But as long as we keep the wasteful, profit-seeking private health insurance corporations at the center of our system, we will struggle to afford and access the health care that we need. Providers will continue to burn out as they fight insurance companies to get their patients needed care. Many hospitals and clinics will continue to chase profitable care delivery models, not what the population actually needs to stay healthy. People will continue to make difficult choices to afford care they need. We need guaranteed healthcare in New York. We need the NY Health Act.” Katie Robbins, Director, Campaign for New York Health.  

 

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LETTER: NY Health Act recognizes health care as human right, Kerin J. Rigney, Syracuse.com

By Kerin J. Rigney, January 14, 2019

All over the world, developed nations have determined that access to medical treatment is a human right. They have determined that as a civilized society, they would collectively care for each member whether they have gainful employment or not. They recognize that not every member of society is able to work such as children, the sick and the elderly and that access to a doctor or medication when ill is essential for a healthy and functional democracy and that it is in everyone’s best interest to grant that access.

The United States stands alone as a developed democracy which does not consider access to medical treatment a human right. The United States stands alone in treating medicine as simply an industry just like any other, and includes it in the capitalist philosophy of demand and supply. Seeking treatment for an illness is considered the same as shopping for a new car.

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LETTER: Health act guarantees everyone will get care, Daniel Neghassi, M.D., Times-Union

By Daniel Neghassi, MD, January 18, 2019

Dr. Tom Madejski's commentary ("New York must think through single-payer system move," Jan. 1) misses important aspects of the New York Health Act.

The legislation establishes an independent trust fund that would not be subject to the yearly budget process. This will allow for stability and for fair negotiations with providers. The goal will be to ensure the quality and quantity of care needed by New Yorkers, a goal that can be only be reached if health care dollars go directly to providers instead of insurance company executives.

In our current commercial insurance system, preauthorization exists mainly to maximize profit. In contrast, Medicare has very few such requirements, and those that exist, mainly for drugs and devices, are driven largely by outrageous prices. NY Health expects to minimize preauthorization and use the leverage of 20 million customers to drive down drug and device prices.

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LETTER: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should focus on New York Health Act, Anne Flomenhaft, Newsday

By Anne Flomenhaft, January 18, 2019

Long Island is facing an affordability crisis. Young people like myself are finding it harder than ever to live here.

With Democratic majorities in the State Senate and Assembly, nothing should hold back Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from solving this crisis on the state level [“Cuomo’s agenda,” News, Jan. 15]. If he wants to make history, there’s an option already on the table: the New York Health Act, which would guarantee health care for all New Yorkers and make it free at the point of service.

Cuomo knows this already. The legislation has been passed by the State Assembly four consecutive years, but gathered dust in the State Senate Health Committee under Sen. Kemp Hannon, who lost his seat in November.

Listen to any one of us, and you’ll quickly learn that Long Island voters put health care at the top of our concerns. Contact your state senators to remind them who put them in office and why.

Anne Flomenhaft, Malverne

Newsday Link

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VIEWPOINT: Resist changes to Medicare, Medicaid limiting drugs, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

By Barbara Estrin, January 6, 2019

Amidst the flurry of television advertisements for Christmas bargains, Medicare ran a series of its own, pushing Advantage Plans over traditional Medicare. Why was the government advertising for big insurance companies? And what else was the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services doing while we were preparing for the holidays?

For one thing, it didn’t oppose the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act brought by 18 states. Ten days before Christmas, millions of Americans heard that a Texas judge ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The Texas ruling — which even President Trump has tweeted will not go into effect immediately — throws panic into people with pre-existing conditions, millennials who had coverage under their parents’ plans until they reach 26, and people who received Medicaid or federal assistance to buy policies.

What a merry holiday season!

But there’s more.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #25, Brielle Cardieri and Cindy Saenz, 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 Brielle Cardieri and Cindy Saenz, January 7, 2019

Healthcare and Immigrants

One of the most frustrating things about caring for patients is knowing that there are viable treatments available but that, because of your patient’s legal status, they cannot get access. Our patient doesn’t have the option of life-saving treatment. Here is her story.

Linda is our patient at the student-run free clinic at our medical school. The clinic serves patients who are uninsured and ineligible for insurance, the majority of whom are undocumented immigrants from Central and South America. Linda emigrated from Mexico twenty years ago to escape persecution and violence because of her sexual orientation but also to seek a better life living with her brother in New York City.

Linda came to our clinic with a variety of medical problems, the most significant of which is chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that causes the kidneys to lose their ability to remove waste products from the blood. As the disease progresses, the only two options to prevent death from kidney failure are dialysis or kidney transplantation. While the etiology of CKD is multifactorial, it is most commonly the result of long-standing uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. Over the course of our time together, Linda has transitioned from living a fully independent life to relying on dialysis three days per week to keep her alive.

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