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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - New Report: Medical Debt and Lack of Access to Affordable Healthcare Harms BIPOC Communities; Universal Healthcare Will Advance Racial Equity

NEW YORK STATE BLACK, PUERTO RICAN, HISPANIC, AND ASIAN LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS

For Immediate Release

May 4, 2022

Contact

Joshua Joseph (BPHA Caucus), 518.455.5347, [email protected] 

Valeria Munt (Senator Rivera), 646-259-5923 [email protected]

Ursula Rozum, 315-414-7720, [email protected]

New Report: Medical Debt and Lack of Access to Affordable Healthcare Harms BIPOC Communities; Universal Healthcare Will Advance Racial Equity

Activists, BPHA Caucus Join Together to Demand Passage of
New York Health Act, and End Medical Debt Bills

(ALBANY, NY) Lawmakers with the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and Campaign for New York Health held a press conference today to announce the release of a new report on healthcare and racial equity and to call the Legislature to pass and implement the End Medical Debt bills, and the New York Health Act (A6058/S5474) before the close of the 2022 session. 

The report, titled Healthcare and Racial Justice: Systemic Change Is Needed for a More Equitable Health System, compiles national and New York State level data to illustrate that healthcare access is a critical racial equity issue and how systemic solutions like a universal, single-payer health plan will significantly improve healthcare access and health outcomes for all. The report found that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) were disproportionately harmed by COVID-19 due to an unequal ability to access quality, affordable healthcare and, long before the start of the pandemic, were more likely than white people to be uninsured and to struggle with medical costs. 

The full press conference can be viewed HERE.

“The New York State Constitution directs me as an elected official to work to protect and promote the health of our state’s residents. That is why I am a proud cosponsor of the New York Health Act. As the Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, I know that it is imperative we pass this piece of legislation that will ensure that the most vulnerable New Yorker’s are given access to healthcare services which will provide substantial support to children and families, especially in Black, Latino, Asian, and Indeginous communities.” said Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Chair of NYS BPHA Legislative Caucus.

"If we are to effectively address the racial inequities prevalent throughout our healthcare system, we must radically change the way we deliver healthcare to New Yorkers," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "As the Campaign for New York Health's new report further highlights, it is critical that we pass the New York Health Act to guarantee comprehensive healthcare coverage to all New Yorkers and in that way, move the needle forward to eliminate our de facto two tier system of care and truly improve our State's health outcomes as a whole."

Senator Luis Sepúlveda said, “We have to pass the New York Health Act. It's a social justice issue, we clearly see how disadvantaged communities are the ones who pay the highest costs of inequality. Latinos, Blacks, women, it is always the same groups of people who have to bear the burden of needs and lack of services. In this case we are talking about a basic right: health. Study after study we see how prevention and health coverage has a positive effect in our communities and in the life of any human being. However, we also have to see how study after study it is the vulnerable communities that suffer the most for not being covered, not being able to pay for health insurance and in the specific case of the studies that concern us here, they are the ones that have the most economic debt for the mere fact of wanting to take care of their health. I support this initiative and I will be mobilizing myself to achieve the passage of the New York Health Act”

“As the newly released report from the Campaign for New York Health makes clear, our state’s health care system needs to prioritize BIPOC individuals who disproportionately lack access to essential services. By providing comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers, the New York Health Act will improve health outcomes across all communities. I am proud to support this legislation and advocate for equitable solutions to systemic health care issues this session. Without fundamental changes in our health care insurance system, we cannot provide health care as a right to every New Yorker,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney.

“With the impending overruling of Roe Vs. Wade, New York must be an access and haven state for all who need healthcare and need to see a provider here. This makes passing the New York Health Act and getting to single-payer healthcare more crucial than ever because it is communities of color that will most disproportionately suffer these consequences. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus to clearly state that single payer healthcare is a racial justice imperative and we must pass it this session,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

“As a Black mother, I am too familiar with the obstacles so many women like me face, particularly around maternal healthcare in this state, and broadly this country. BIPOC communities battle our medicare system daily to obtain basic care. It is imperative that we end medical debt and call upon the state to institute universal healthcare. It is truly an injustice that so many people of color, economically challenged families and immigrant populations suffer from insufficient healthcare due to lack of insurance and medical care debt. It’s beyond time to bring humanity to the healthcare policies in our system and absolve medical debt today. Healthcare is a human right.” said Assemblymember Stefani Zinerman.

“Decades of inequitable care and resources across the state of New Work have come to shape the harsh reality of our current healthcare system. Overpriced medical bills and mounting debt discourages members of our community from seeking medical coverage. People of color are especially vulnerable and are disproportionately affected by the lack of quality and affordable care. By creating obstacles to meaningful services and resources for those most in need of care, we further perpetuate illness and the trauma we see on a daily basis within our communities. The reality is many of New York’s residents simply cannot afford to be sick. Establishing guaranteed healthcare systems will allow us to make lasting coverage available for our most vulnerable residents and families. I stand with my state colleagues in calling for the passage of the New York Health Act and End Medical Debt bills to create an adequate, equitable system for the people of New York. We must demonstrate our commitment to the welfare of our communities.” said Assemblymember Demond Meeks.

"As a nurse, a mother, and a black woman, I am all too familiar with the racial inequalities in our healthcare system. These inequalities often lead to preventable deaths in black communities, where the maternal mortality rate is three times higher than in white communities. We have the right to free, high-quality healthcare. The fact that reproductive healthcare is under attack right now makes our fight even more urgent. The legislature must take action to pass the New York Health Act now." said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest

“Healthcare in the United States has left a detrimental effect on minority and people of color communities and families from the accumulated medical debt and increasingly expensive costs. Many of these communities are not financially excelling; therefore, many of them can be in life or death situations and will avoid medical help altogether because they can not afford it. Numerous African Americans and people of color communities are not getting the proper support they need from their healthcare providers like their fellow counterparts. This is a result of inequitable coverage afforded. Many can not access health insurance for various reasons (related to being unemployed, being formerly incarcerated, and so forth), or they do not have the sufficient funds left over to pay any medical bills. Overall, healthcare is a human right and therefore is essential to continue to move more toward a public health system like the New York Health Act. The New York Health Act will ensure that all New Yorkers receive high-quality healthcare and all people have access to health insurance regardless of their economic status and racial background." said Assemblymember Khaleel M. Anderson.

"Our healthcare system is not working for communities of color, including the one I represent in Upper Manhattan. I have one of the country's top hospitals in my district, yet my constituents still struggle to access and afford vital healthcare services. We need the New York Health Act to limit inequities and create a more just healthcare system," said Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos.

"Eight years ago, I had to file bankruptcy in order not to lose my home because of mounting medical bills, while on short term disability for having had two different surgical interventions on my back, consequences of the toll my work as a nurse has taken on my body. I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you about the long-term effect bankruptcy is having on this Black woman's ability to be considered to have credit in good standing. I have many family members who have lost a limb or two because they can't or couldn't afford medical care, or they have died, much too soon, because they were among those who fall through the large fissures in our current healthcare system. Low-income individuals and families are unable to participate in preventative care under our current system. The wealth and prosperity of our country has been built on the backs of the impoverished and less fortunate, who are contributors to our tax system. The least our country and the state of New York should offer them is affordable healthcare for their contribution to our prosperity. A Single Payer system is a big step in the right direction.” said Tonia Bazel RN, New York State Nurses Association, Infectious Disease Unit

Key findings of the report include:

  • Black Americans are 10 percent less likely to hold employer-sponsored health coverage than their white counterparts.

 

  • The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world. Black women are three times more likely – and in New York City, 12 times more likely – to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. 63% of these deaths are preventable. Uninsurance and under-insurance are major drivers of the U.S. maternal and child mortality rate.

 

 

  • Black households are more likely to hold medical debt. Twenty-seven percent of Black households hold medical debt compared to 16.8% of non-Black households. Medical debt can appear on a person’s credit reports and lower their credit scores, reducing access to credit and making it harder to find a home or a job.

 

 

  • Communities with majority Black and Latinx residents experience provider shortages more than other communities all over the country. 

 

 

  • A universal system of publicly-funded, guaranteed healthcare, often referred to as “single-payer healthcare,” is the most equitable and affordable way to achieve comprehensive coverage for all.  Universal single-payer healthcare will end the burden of medical debt that disproportionately harms BIPOC communities by eliminating cost-sharing – the out-of-pocket costs such as copays that act as financial barriers to care. 

 

“The report lays out egregious disparities in our healthcare system. We have a maternal mortality rate that is higher than any other rich country and Black women in New York City are more than 12 times as likely to die in childbirth as white women. Black and Latinx communities face provider shortages. As healthcare providers we know we must take an active role in fighting for racial justice. We need the New York Health Act to ensure all New Yorkers can afford the healthcare they need,” said Daniel Lugassy, MD,  Chair of the Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro Anti-Racism Working Group

Becca Telzak, Deputy Director of Make the Road New York, said, “The pandemic has shown us that New York cannot continue to fall short on passing bold investments to improve our healthcare system. Health care is a human right and all New Yorkers deserve access to quality, affordable health coverage. With just weeks left of this year’s legislative session it is crucial we prioritize the health and well-being of all. We urge the Governor and state leaders to pass the NYS Health Act, which will take us closer to achieving comprehensive universal health coverage for all.” 

“Access to health care should be a right not a privilege.  As we continue to battle the effects of a public health crisis, we must pass policies that ensure that all New Yorkers are able to receive the treatments that allow everyone to live with inherent dignity and respect”, said Ivette Alfonso, Citizen Action of New York State Board President. “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities continue to bear the burden of a health care system that prioritizes profits over people. We call on the legislature and the Governor to pass the New York Health Act this session in order to guarantee that everyone is able to receive the care they need, not just the privileged few.”

"Healthcare inequity based on structural racism resonates with community members of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition where health outcomes have consistently been at the bottom-- #62 out of 62 counties in the state. For years, our membership of 5,000 throughout the Bronx have been engaged in campaigns to address the disparity of healthcare in the Bronx.  COVID 19 has had a particularly significant impact on our community based on these pre-existing inequalities. We believe a universal guaranteed healthcare system as proposed in the New York Health Act would address some of the structural racism embedded in today's healthcare system and had it been in place, COVID 19 impact to the Bronx community would not have been as bad,” said Roberta Todd, Health Justice Organizer Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

"The examples of structural racism in our healthcare system documented in this report are appalling, but not surprising. This deep inequity won't be fixed by tinkering around the edges of health policy. It's time for policymakers who care about racial justice and equity to take bold action.  As long as healthcare is treated as a commodity rather than a right, BIPOC, disabled, poor and other marginalized communities will have less access and worse outcomes. We can't accept this. We need the NYS legislature to pass the NY Health Act to finally guarantee healthcare for all,” said Rev. E. West McNeill, Executive Director, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State.

“The COVID pandemic has not only revealed how broken our current system of healthcare is, it has also made clear how people of color are especially vulnerable in our current system run by predatory private insurance companies. Healthcare inequity is a form of racial injustice, and the only way to fix this is to transform our  system to guarantee healthcare as a right by passing the New York Health Act,” said Brahvan Ranga, Political Director, For the Many.

“We welcome New York’s re-dedication to securing health equity for all its residents,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President, Health Initiatives of the Community Service Society of New York and co-founder of Health Care For All New York. “This valuable report reveals that the surest mechanism for redressing the many facets of disparities—uninsurance, underinsurance and unequal funding for our health safety net—is the New York Health Act.”

"The evidence shows that public health insurance is crucial to providing better healthcare in particular for people of color. There is no racial equity or justice without high quality, affordable healthcare, regardless of employment status. No one should have to deal with the burden of medical debt, or be unable to see a doctor because of the community they live in. And yet this is the reality for many, especially Black and Latinx New Yorkers. The NYC Democratic Socialists of America stand firm in our position that this means there is no racial justice in New York without passing the New York Health Act." said Maia Rosenberg, Communications Coordinator, NYC Democratic Socialists Healthcare Working Group

“Black and Brown birthing people have been dying at a higher rates than their White counterparts since American chattel slavery. Studies have been done and done and done again, yet solutions sit silently in plain sight, blocked by those who benefit by maintaining the status quo. Join Niecy’s Purple Heart Foundation to get informed about the health disparities facing Blck and Brown birth people and to demand lawmakers pass the New York Health Act!” said Charlene Magee, Founder, Niecy’s Purple Heart Foundation. 

‘Racial disparities in health services are another way that racism affects the health of communities of color. This has been magnified by COVID-19.  Public health insurance programs play a major role in providing affordable care and better outcomes, especially for Black Americans. Comprehensive, quality, and affordable healthcare must be a legislative priority. ALAA, along with the Campaign for New York Health, join the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus to urge our legislative leaders to bring the New York Health Act to a vote this session,” said Lisa Ohta, President of UAW Local 2325 - Assoc. of Legal Aid Attorneys.

"The New York State Legislature and Governor have the responsibility to work with communities to fix the root causes of systemic inequality. I can only think that ensuring passage of the NY Health Care Act and End Medicaid Debt Bill package is part of that fundamental change needed to advance equity.  A genuine difference will be made where our healthcare system is not divided among those who receive public or private medical care and those who cannot access health services.  The fight against access barriers and structural and systemic racism will remain.  But it would be so wonderful if we address the problem of a for-profit system that decides who can have coverage or not to the billing tactics that are inflicting harm on patients. All too often lands harder on Black, Latinx, API, and Indigenous communities --only serves to heighten health disparities and create structural barriers to accessing available and affordable health care services," states Anthony Feliciano, Director for the Commission on the Public's Health System.  

“Mekong NYC supports universal healthcare as a racial equity policy and urges legislative leaders to pass this bill this session. We truly believe the New York Health Act addresses a vital need and issues impacting all communities of color. We have seen how COVID19 and this ongoing pandemic ravage through our Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee community. This highlighted social and economic inequities that have long existed before the pandemic, lack of access to food, housing, healthcare, and other essential resources. Universal healthcare is a human right and no one should be denied, fear of accessing healthcare, no should ever be burdened by the cost of healthcare or having to choose between having a meal for their family or paying for needed prescriptions. We need Universal healthcare. We need our elected and legislators to pass the New York Health Act.” said Khamarin Nhann, Campaign Director, MEKONG.

“The New York Health Act would end the chaotic medical care system that people with disabilities are all too familiar with and its multiple uncoordinated programs, restrictive networks and formularies, deductibles and copays which can function as barriers to care.  We are pleased to be able to support the New York Health Act, A6058 (Gottfried)/S.5474 (Rivera), since its comprehensive benefits now include long-term care, as well as primary and preventive care, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, rehabilitative and habilitative care, dental, vision, and hearing.” said Heidi Siegfried, Esq., Director of Health Policy, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY.

“As a patient-led organization that is dedicated to addressing and overcoming social and racial inequities and health disparities through effective advocacy, we strongly support universal healthcare, especially since lupus disproportionately impacts communities of color,” stated Kathleen A. Arntsen, President & CEO of Lupus and Allied Diseases Association. “We must make healthcare more accessible and affordable by classifying it as a basic human right and not as a benefit of employment.”

“New Yorkers are depending on our legislature to put people over profits of private insurance companies and pass the New York Health Act. Yet another study shows how people of color suffer because our leaders fail to give us the universal health coverage we all deserve. How many studies showing the administrative waste and inequity of our healthcare funding do we need for state government to act and pass the New York Health Act?” said Dr. Sunny Aslam, Chair, Physicians for a National Health Program, CNY Chapter.

“Our city of Syracuse, which has the highest rates of child and family poverty of any city in the nation, has racial disparities in health care access and outcomes chiseled into the city’s segregated built environment. On one side of Interstate 81 is SUNY Upstate Medical University. On the other side is Pioneer Homes, the state’s oldest public housing project. Pioneer Homes and the surrounding Black community can see Upstate University Hospital just across the interstate, but many residents cannot access its medical services. The rate of health insurance coverage in Black Syracuse is half that of white neighborhoods, while the death rates from asthma, strokes, diabetes, and cancer are double the rates in white neighborhoods. The death rates from Covid-19 in Black Syracuse has been three times the rate in white neighborhoods. 48% of Black Syracusans die before age 65, compared to 18% of white residents. To close these racial inequities without delay, Syracuse needs state legislators to provide universal health care by enacting the NY Health Act in this session.” Howie Hawkins, Chair, Green Party of Onondaga County.

“Universal access to high quality health care is the essential cornerstone to a just, moral, and equitable society.” Robert M. Hayes, President/CEO, Community Healthcare Network.

"We believe all New Yorkers deserve to be healthy.  Medicaid Matters supports the New York Health Act because access to coverage is the way to make sure that happens.  It is time to recognize access to healthcare is a basic human right," said Lara Kassel, Medicaid Matters

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The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus is a sixty-six-member body of state legislators representing a quarter of residents across the State of New York from Long Island, the metro New York City area, and upstate.

The Campaign for New York Health is a 501c4 statewide coalition dedicated to enacting a universal single-payer healthcare in New York State. CNYH brings together more than 300 organizations including the New York State Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Metro Justice, Chinese-American Planning Council, Citizen Action of New York, Community Service Society of New York, Democratic Socialists of America (NYC), For the Many, New York Labor-Religion Coalition, Make the Road New York, Metro New York Health Care for All, New York Progressive Action Network, Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, and Working Families Party. Find out more at www.nyhcampaign.org

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Report highlights need for 'single-payer' system in New York. Here's what it found. 

BY SHANNON YOUNG | 05/04/2022 05:30 AM EDT 

ALBANY, N.Y. — Black Americans, Indigenous individuals and people of color were disproportionately harmed by the Covid-19 pandemic due, in part, to their unequal access to quality, affordable health care, according to a new analysis that makes the case for a universal health care system in New York.

Key context: The report, which the Campaign for New York Health released Wednesday in conjunction with the state’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, examines racial health outcome disparities and how the state could combat them by passing the “New York Health Act.”

Advocates behind the contentious legislation, which would establish a single-payer-style health care system in New York, told POLITICO that they hope the report’s findings and recommendations can spark a renewed focus on the issue after years of inaction in Albany.

The New York Health Act has slowly gained support in the Legislature, with the bill’s sponsors, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) and Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), announcing it had received majority support in both chambers as of March 2021. Despite that, the legislation has struggled to get traction amid concerns critics have raised over its potential costs and the feasibility of setting up a single-payer system at the state level.

What they said: “For a long time health advocates have been sounding the alarm about racial inequity in health care,” said Ursula Rozum, a Campaign for New York Health co-director. “So it felt like, two years into the pandemic, it was really important to try to highlight the racial justice aspect of why we’re fighting to pass universal health care.”

Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, a Nassau County Democrat who chairs the caucus, added that the report seeks to provide the facts that back up the claims of racial disparities in health care.

“We all see that these things are happening in our community,” she said in an interview. “We want to ensure that we’re tackling the issues that are most important. And, with the pandemic, it highlighted and pushed us more to get it done.”

The findings: The report, which compiles national and New York state data, found that Black Americans are 10 percent less likely than their white counterparts to hold employer-sponsored health coverage. They’re also more likely to hold medical debt and to die from pregnancy-related causes, according to the analysis.

Black and Latinx Americans, the report also found, were less likely than white Americans to have jobs that permit remote work; and more likely to live in communities experiencing health provider shortages.

It further found that “public health insurance programs play a major role in providing affordable care and better outcomes, especially for Black Americans.”

The recommendations: The report concluded that a universal system of publicly funded guaranteed health care, like that proposed under the New York Health Act, “is the most equitable and affordable way to achieve comprehensive coverage for all.”

“Bringing all residents into a single public plan would eliminate the inequity in access that results from a fragmented system,” it noted. “Campaign for New York Health recommends universal single-payer health care as a policy intervention to create a health system that promotes racial equity and quality care for all.”

What’s next: The Campaign for New York Health and BPHA Caucus will officially unveil the report and its findings today at an Albany news conference.

Organizers said the event will kick off a monthlong effort to force action on the New York Health Act, which is currently at the committee level in both the Senate and Assembly. The legislative session runs through early June.

“We’re hoping to get the attention of the leadership,” Rozum said

Solages said the 60-plus member BPHA Caucus will put its “political weight behind” that push.

“I’m putting my 100 percent effort into getting this done this session,” she said. “But if we reach a point where we are not successful this year, we’ll come back again to the drawing table and we’ll push it even harder next year. This is something that our community can’t wait for. So we’re ready to push; we’re ready to get it done.” 

In a statement, Rivera said he would continue to push for the measure this session.

"As I have always said, the New York Health Act is a very challenging proposition due to its ramifications and it requires me to be in constant dialogue with my leadership, colleagues and other critical stakeholders in an effort to build consensus around the bill," he said. "I will continue pushing the conversation forward and I hope to make progress before the end of session.”

 

View this article online.

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Healthcare Advocates Say Excluding Coverage for All, Fair Pay for Home Care from Budget is Failure of State’s Duty to Provide Care for All Who Need It

Statement from the Campaign for New York Health on the 2022 budget deal reached in Albany:

“By failing to fund Coverage for All in the budget and living-wages for homecare workers, the legislature and Governor failed to take a much-needed step forward in our state’s duty to provide healthcare to those who need it. Expanding health insurance coverage to low-income New Yorkers regardless of immigration status is the right thing to do and is supported by an incredibly broad range of New Yorkers and community and industry advocates. The New York State constitution says that all residents have the right to healthcare. Our loved ones and neighbors deserve to get the care they need, especially as we continue to live through the pandemic and its disproportionate effects on the health and lives of working class immigrants and communities of color. 

“We have seen that even with health insurance, many New Yorkers are still unable to afford the care they need or incur huge medical debts to get life-saving care. That is why we are urging the legislature to take the crucial next steps and pass the End Medical Debt bills (A7363/S6522, A3470C/S2521C, A8441/S7625), to protect New York families from the predatory medical billing practices in the current healthcare system.

“To truly create a healthcare system for all New Yorkers, the Democratic legislative majority must use the remaining weeks of the session to pass the New York Health Act. Creating a comprehensive, free-at-point-of-use healthcare system for everyone in our state is the only way we can affordably provide the healthcare we all need and deserve.”

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Universal Healthcare Advocates Applaud Governor Hochul’s Commitment to Health Equity, and Urge Her Support Universal Healthcare Legislation in 2022

Statement from the Campaign for New York Health on Governor Hochul’s State of the State Address to a Joint Session of the State Legislature: 

We applaud Governor Hochul’s recognition of the ways in which New York’s health system has failed our state’s communities of color, and her commitment to achieving greater health equity. While recognition of the problem is an important step towards addressing it, the Governor’s State of the State address puts forth modest approaches when deep systemic change is needed to create the strongest possible system that guarantees high-quality, equitable care for all, regardless of race, gender, employment, or citizenship status. 

On average, 50% of New Yorkers with health insurance struggle to access healthcare due to cost and insurer-imposed barriers. Only focusing on expanding insurance will not remove the additional barriers also facing many New York Yorkers. It is long past time to put an end to the vast health disparities in our state.  To that end, we urge Governor Hochul and Commissioner Bassett's new Department of Health "racial equity working group" to develop a plan for our state to transition to a universal healthcare system. 

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As Fears of Winter COVID Surge Increase, Senator May Joins Syracuse Healthcare Workers and Community Members to Call on Legislative Leaders to Pass the New York Health Act in 2022

SYRACUSE, NY - On Friday, November 19 in front of the Syracuse State Office Building Syracuse supporters of the New York Health Act held a press conference calling on state lawmakers to pass the universal healthcare bill during the 2022 legislative session as part of New York’s COVID recovery. One of over a dozen statewide activities organized by Health Act supporters this week, the press conference featured speakers from the 1199SEIU, Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Syracuse Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Doula 4 a Queen, and Physicians for a National Health Program whose members shared healthcare stories and spoke to the urgency of passing the Health Act. 

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For Immediate Release: State Legislators, Advocates Unveil “Compassionate New York" Agenda to Save Lives and Billions of Dollars After COVID

Media Contact:

Dan Morris. 917.952.8920

State Legislators, Advocates Unveil “Compassionate New York" Agenda to Save Lives and Billions of Dollars After COVID

The Agenda Brings Together Key Demands for Housing, Healthcare and Criminal Justice Reform

New York -- Today, at rallies in New York City and Rochester, state legislators and advocates unveiled a Compassionate New York legislative agenda that will save lives and billions of dollars. 

Speakers discussed how three key legislative items - guaranteeing healthcare for every New Yorker, stopping unjust evictions, and ending mass incarceration – can create a more Compassionate New York for all after COVID. Several statewide coalitions and campaigns, including Campaign for NY HealthHousing Justice for All; Justice Roadmap, jointly released the Compassionate New York agenda today, along with New Yorkers who live at the intersection of homelessness, lack of healthcare, and criminalization and incarceration. 

A new report today reveals that the Compassionate New York agenda would save nearly $12 billion in the first year of implementation alone. The New York Health Act would reduce total healthcare spending by at least $10 billion, Good Cause Eviction protections would save over $1.6 billion, Elder Parole and Fair and Timely Parole bills would save $522 million annually, restoring financial aid access to incarcerated college students will save $22 million and Clean Slate legislation will expand New York’s GDP by $7 billion.

 

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The Guardian: ‘There is a solution’: a Covid survivor’s life-or-death battle for Medicare for All

By  New York

Mon 5 Apr 2021 05.00 EDT

‘There is a solution’: a Covid survivor’s life-or-death battle for Medicare for All

Mariana Pineda was hospitalized with Covid-19 and pneumonia last April and can only afford treatment via GoFundMe. Now she’s using her energy to fight for healthcare programs

Few things in Mariana Pineda’s body have worked properly since she was hospitalized with Covid-19 and pneumonia last April. One day she is seeing a specialist to get nodules on her thyroid biopsied, another day it is a trip to the emergency room after her hands swell and turn red, symptoms of yet another high blood pressure crisis.

She pays $3,062.48 a month for health insurance to cover this constant stream of treatment, which she can only afford with the help of a GoFundMe online fundraiser. She is too sick to work and is a single mother – her only income is child support payments.

Amid all of this, when Pineda’s finished with doctors’ appointments for the day and her four-year-old is asleep, she uses her last stores of energy to fight for the government-run healthcare program Medicare for All and its New York state equivalent.

“This is my gift from the universe,” Pineda told the Guardian. “If nothing else, the fact that I didn’t die from Covid just ramped up my overwhelming desire to get Medicare for All and the New York Health Act.”

Pineda is one of the many activists, and lawmakers, making Covid-19 part of their calls to reshape the US healthcare system to provide universal coverage. In mid-March, Democratic representatives Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell reintroduced the Medicare for All act on the anniversary of Covid-19 being confirmed in all 50 states and Washington DC.

Mariana Pineda.
Mariana Pineda. Photograph: Courtesy of Mariana Pineda

“There is a solution to this health crisis – a popular one that guarantees healthcare to every person as a human right and finally puts people over profits and care over corporations,” Jayapal said in a statement. “That solution is Medicare for All.”

The bill has the support of more than half the Democrats, but it is unlikely to pass the House. In the Senate, several Democrats instead are pushing for the public option, a government-run health insurance to exist alongside private health insurance.

Both reforms seek to make health insurance more affordable, easier to access and less costly and are being weighed by several state governments.

The hurdles, however, are immense.

Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a lobby which represents hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and health insurers, is already spending millions to campaign against reform. In Colorado, the group bought $1m in TV ads to run this spring before a bill was even introduced.

These ads, which warn of politicians having more control over people’s healthcare, have been effective against health reform for decades, explained health policy expert Colleen Grogan. “The evidence from the past suggests that those advertisements really work and that’s why they keep doing them,” said Grogan, professor at the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice.

Americans for Prosperity, a group with financial backing from the conservative Koch brothers network, is also stepping in. The group spent millions to fight the ACA, and told CNBC in March that that campaign failed in part because they didn’t present an alternative. This time, the group is showcasing a “personal option” plan which would slash regulations and is pitched toward the private sector.

Activists must also contend with the more moderate wing of the Democratic party. Joe Biden has not endorsed Medicare for All and his healthcare efforts have so far been focused on expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The president has already had success: the last stimulus package included $61.3bn to expand insurance subsidies and coverage under the ACA and other federal programs for two years. More than four out of 10 people without health insurance are now eligible for a free or nearly free health plan, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

Pineda is set to benefit from one of the changes: people who have recently lost work must be covered for up to six months under the usually costly Cobra program. That’s the insurance Pineda pays $3,000 a month for now and she’s waiting to hear from her employer or the government about the subsidy.

These efforts improve access and affordability, but also direct public money to the private healthcare industry. “So the American public benefits but the American public also loses because it ends up having to pay a lot more than a more rational system should really pay for,” Grogan said.

Should Biden attempt to make these changes permanent, as is expected, discussions about public spending on private healthcare could be more prominent, a useful tool for reform activists. In 2019, federal, state and local governments accounted for 45% of the country’s $3.8tn in healthcare spending.

“The interest in containing healthcare spending is not going away,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “I don’t think we’re going to hear the end of that at all.”

And Pineda will do what she can to ensure that.

The mother of four posts pictures of her vital signs and medical bills on social media, providing an intimate look at the long-term symptoms some people experience after Covid-19 infections and the costs of trying to stay alive.

Pineda posts posts pictures of her vital signs and medical bills on social media, providing an intimate look at the long-term symptoms some people experience after Covid-19.
Pineda posts posts pictures of her vital signs and medical bills on social media, providing an intimate look at the long-term symptoms some people experience after Covid-19. Photograph: Courtesy of Mariana Pineda

“I’ve done panels from hospital beds, I’ve gone on Facebook Live from the emergency room,” Pineda said. “Yes, it sucks that I am sick, but it gives me a unique insight and gives me access to all kinds of things that we might not necessarily know about.”

Pineda is energetic and quick to laugh, but she is experiencing a nightmare. Her symptoms include headaches that make her feel like someone is shaking a can of coins in her head, vomiting multiple times a week, emphysema, lesions on her kidneys, incontinence and anemia. Her period hasn’t stopped since she had a miscarriage in July. Doctors are monitoring an air sac in her lungs because if it grows much more it will need to be surgically removed.

She goes to the emergency room almost every month and in September had emergency surgery to remove six blood clots in her lungs, including one blocking her pulmonary artery – the respiratory therapist told her 99% of the people in her position don’t survive.

She is seeing a urologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, hematologist, gastroenterologist, neurologist and cardiologist. A quirk of her insurance, familiar to many Americans, is that her appointments with specialists are only covered if her primary care physician gives the referral – an added layer of bureaucracy.

“I’ve actually had to myself call up specialists, get their tax ID number, get the diagnosis code, get all of the codes,” Pineda said. “So I spend hours a day on the phone with specialists and the insurance company … if we had the NY Health Act or Medicare for All, it would all be one system and I wouldn’t have to do this while I’m home recuperating and a single parent with an autistic four-year-old.”

Pineda’s passion for Medicare for All formed when she was volunteering for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid, knocking on hundreds of doors while pregnant. She cast her ballot in the New York primary while 4cm dilated and gave birth the next day.

Five years later, Pineda vowed to keep pushing politicians for health reform. Pineda said: “I am going to harass them until I drop dead and I hope I drop dead on their doorstep for a good photo op.”

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Rochester Advocates Push for the New York Health Act

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After years of trying to get the New York Health Act passed in the state legislature, advocates are pushing again.

“Insurance should not be an issue between life or death, between having a limb or not having a limb, we have to fix this,” Rev. Myra Brown, pastor of Spiritus Christi Church.

The New York Health Act would give access to healthcare for all state residents, and a person’s income, health or immigration status would not be an issue. Coverage would also be based on income, rather than insurance company rates.

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Gotham Gazette OpEd: With More Than 1 Million Uninsured, New York Needs Immediate Comprehensive Health-Care for All

New York Needs Immediate Comprehensive Health-Care for All

metroplus strength

Health care push (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


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Spectrum News: Is Pandemic a Game Changer for Single Payer Bill?

For years, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has introduced a bill creating a single-payer health care system in New York. Gottfried and Sen. Gustavo Rivera on Monday reintroduced the measure on Monday.

And this year, with a pandemic claiming tens of thousands of lives in New York and exposing new cracks in the health care system, is different, advocates for the measure said.

“New Yorkers elected a Democratic super-majority in the middle of a pandemic as a mandate to enact bold transformational changes, including the New York Health Act,” said Ursula Rozum, the co-director of the Campaign for NY Health. “This bill must be central to a just and equitable recovery from this pandemic and brought to a vote this year.” 

...

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 8, 2021

CONTACT:                              
Mischa Sogut (M/A Gottfried's office)
518-455-4941 (office) or 202-365-5475 (cell phone)   
Valeria Munt (Sen. Rivera’s office) 
646-259-5923
Ursula Rozum (Campaign for NY Health)
315-414-7720

As Pandemic Rages, Lawmakers Reintroduce New York Health Act

with Majority Support in State Legislature

The bill is backed by a large coalition representing upstate and downstate New Yorkers 

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Editorial Review: Health care for all … if we can afford it, Riverdale Press

2019 IN REVIEW, December 29, 2019

What would New York be like if some Democrats get their way and pass the New York Health Act — the legislation that would create a general public single-payer health care system for the first time anywhere in the United States?

The Riverdale Press actually explored that in October, talking to a number of doctors, politicians, and even future doctors. Like Joseph Tharakan, who is working his way to earning his medical license at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Morris Park.

“In medical school, we never get any education on how health insurance works,” Tharakan said. “We learn all the science, but nothing about the money or insurance or malpractice or anything.”

But one of the biggest questions is how would New York pay for it? In fact, that’s one of the key factors that prevented the New York Health Act from coming up this past session, and will likely continue to curtail it until those issues are worked out.

“You want to do it right, and not sloppy,” said state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who campaigned as a proponent of the New York Health Act. “If we’re going to do this, we can’t fail. It would just provide ammunition to the arguments on why this program doesn’t work, so we have to do it right.”

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ALERT: Amherst Single Payer Public Forum, Jan 8, Anna DeRosa, Amhearst Bee

By Anna DeRosa, Dec 23, 2019

PUBLIC FORUM — Residents can gain more information about the New York Health Act next month at an event, titled “Amherst Single Payer Public Forum.” The event will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Clearfield Library, 770 Hopkins Road.

The legislation is progressing through Albany, and a panel of experts will explain how public-funded, universal single-payer health insurance will impact every New York resident.

The panel of experts will include Kevin Ketchum, attorney; Brian Nowak, Town of Cheektowaga councilman; Joseph Testa, M.D., family medicine; Richard Clements, retired business executive; and Frances Ilozue, M.D., Rapha Family Medicine.

Attendees will be able to learn more about and understand the NY Health Act legislation, what it would change, whom it would benefit and how it would impact taxes. For more information, visit Campaign for NY Health at www.nyhcampaign.org, or search WNY Healthcare for All on Facebook.

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POV: The Constitutional Case for ‘Medicare for All,’ Buonaspina, CityLimits

The Constitutional Convention's identification of 'the general welfare' as an explicit goal of government was the foundation for postal roads, highways, Social Security and more.

By Robert Buonaspina, Dec 19, 2019

Robert Buonaspina is an Elected Steering Committee Member of Long Island Activists and a History Teacher at Locust Valley High School, Locust Valley, New York with over 25 years experience.

“Promoting the general welfare” is a part of our social DNA. It is featured in the United States Constitution in the Preamble and tasked to Congress to do in Article 1 Section 8. It is part of their job scope to ensure that the general welfare needs of our people are met.

Also noted in our foundational document, as part of servicing the general welfare needs of the people, was the creation of “postal roads,” along with post offices, as resources needed by Americans. The Founding Fathers also called for the creation of free public libraries to keep our citizens informed and educated.

In short order, developing out what was meant by “general welfare” grew as the nation grew. In the early 1800s, with the construction of the Erie Canal, the government funded in the Northeast a fairly involved effort to improve upon the transportation needs of the growing country.

Also occurring during the first few decades of the new nation was the formation of free public schools to educate our population. Via the efforts of Horace Mann, Massachusetts became the first state to provide a public education to its state’s citizens. In time, as part of serving the general welfare needs of the nation, a free public education from K-12 became the norm....

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NEWS: South Central Brooklyn United for Progress, a Bigger and Brighter 2020, Brodner, The Bklyner.

By Curtis Brodner, Dec 19, 2019      

New York Senate District 17 for Progress, a group of progressive activists and organizers in Borough Park and Midwood, are rebranding their organization as South Central Brooklyn United for Progress (SCBUP). With the new name comes hope for political change and a broader impact in 2020….

The organization has grown to roughly 40 regular members in addition to a 14-person executive board. Their newsletter reaches 700 Brooklynites. 

As membership grew, SCBUP formed committees to advocate for the changes that community members felt were most pressing. Those topics range from traffic safety to ICE raids to health care.

These areas of focus arise organically from members. Sarah Herbst, for example, is an SCBUP executive board member who works for a large health system, so she’s seen the issues with health insurance in the United Statesfirst hand. 

Herbst’s experience inspired her to help organize a committee at SCBUP that advocates for the New York Health Act, a bill that would provide universal, single-payer healthcare for New Yorkers. The bill has beenlanguishing in the New York State Legislature for decades, but SCBUP aims to change that.

“We recently hosted an event at a church in Park Slope where we spread the word about the NY Health Act and hopefully built momentum on how we can build support, get this passed and provide a national model for single-payer [health insurance],” said Herbst. “We can lead the way.”…

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VIDEO: NYS Could be close to adopting NYS health care act, Paul Feiner, LWV Zevon & Reich, WVOX

NYS could be close to doing at the state level what is being discussed at national level

Interview by Paul Feiner with Madeline Zevon and Joanne Reich, December 9, 2019

Mr. Feiner is Town of Greenburgh Supervisor, Ms. Zevon is co-chair of the NYS  & Westchester League of Women Voters Health Care Committee, and Ms. Reich is with the Greenburgh Health Care Committee and a member of the LWV committee

Most residents of NY, Westchester and Greenburgh  are unaware that NYS could be close to doing at the state level what lawmakers are talking about at the national level – the NYS Health Care Act covers everyone while saving money. I was surprised to learn that the State Assembly approved the legislation by a 2/3rd margin 4 times and in the State Senate there are 31 co-sponsors—only one vote short of a majority.  Will there be a vote in 2020? Will NYS lead the way? 

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NEWS: Sen. Metzger backs single-payer health care in NY, but unsure of passage, Daily Freeman

Dec 5, 2019

KINGSTON, N.Y. — State Sen. Jen Metzger says she favors a law allowing for single-payer health care in New York.

But the freshman lawmaker from Rosendale is not sure if the measure, known as the New York Health Act, will draw a favorable nod from a majority of Senate colleagues.

“You know, it always comes down to whether (we) turn out the votes,” Metzger, a Democrat, said during a live-stream Freeman interview Thursday. “Certainly there is strong support in the Senate, support that didn’t exist before but it has to have a majority of votes and we will see what happens.”

“I can’t really predict what would happen because it really comes down to the votes in the state senate and making sure we have a majority,” said Metzger, who represents the 42nd Senate District.

The New York state Legislature begins its next session in January.

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VIDEO: Public Hearing in Kingston Highlights Popular Support for Universal, Guaranteed Healthcare

Sharing personal struggles and expert testimony, dozens testified in support of the New York Health Act 

Kingston, NY— The fourth and final in a series of regional public hearings on the New York Health Act [A.5248, S.3577] convened in Kingston today. In a packed room, dozens of people testified to the Assembly and Senate Health Committees in support of the New York Health Act, including Hudson Valley residents, representatives from labor, healthcare and social service providers, small businesses, workers, patients, and care-workers. 

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INTERVIEW: “There’s a Fear Factor, a Fear of Change,” William Hsiao by Reynolds, Politico

William Hsiao knows more about single payer systems than pretty much any other American. What does he think about ‘Medicare for All’?

By Maura Reynolds, Nov 25, 2019

Plenty of Americans have opinions about single-payer health systems like “Medicare for All,” and some have even studied them closely. But vanishingly few individuals in the world have actually built one from scratch.

One who has is William Hsiao.

A health care economist now retired from Harvard University, Hsiao designed a national health care system for Taiwan in the 1990s, and helped manage that country’s transition from American-style employer-based insurance to a national single-payer system. He has also designed single-payer reform programs for Cyprus, Colombia and China. And not too long ago, after Vermont voted in 2011 to enact a statewide single-payer system, he worked on what would have been called Green Mountain Care, a project that eventually collapsed because of concerns over financing.

This all gives Hsiao a nearly unique vantage point on the current U.S. debate over Medicare for All. And while he’s a fan of single-payer health care, which he thinks leads both to better health and greater efficiency, he’s a pessimist about its chances to take root in the United States.

The reason? It’s not the economics. It’s the politics.

Given the public’s attachment to doctors and concerns about their own health, Hsiao says there’s a powerful “fear factor” associated with any major change — one easy for opponents to exploit, and hard to overcome. Fans of Medicare for All haven’t yet grappled with the heavy lift of educating the public enough to overcome people’s attachment to the status quo, and the powerful forces that can fan their anxieties....

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NEWS: Lawmakers mull over single payer health approach for New York, Mahoney, Niagra Gazette

By JOE MAHONEY, CNHI News Service, Nov 25, 2019

KINGSTON — Constance Rudd, a 77-year-old retiree, said it was getting Lyme disease this year from a tick bite that helped turn her into a staunch supporter of a single-payer approach to health insurance coverage.

"I found out I'm not as immortal as I thought I was," the Ulster County resident said Monday after demonstrating in support of legislation that would radically transform how medical care is financed in New York, with advocates calling for a state government takeover of the current approach of health insurers offering a menu of plans.

At a hearing on matching bills that have been filed in the state Assembly and Senate, a panel of lawmakers listened to former patients share stories of what they called aggravating experiences with health insurers. They also heard from representatives of the insurance industry who warned a single payer, government-run system would be unaffordable and would not deliver on the promises touted by the legislation….

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VIDEO: NYS Legislature to hold hearing on New York Health Act, Olivia Jaquith, WNEY News

By Olivia Jaquith, November 25, 2019

KINGSTON, N.Y. (WENY) -- The State Legislature is holding the latest in a series of hearings today on a replacement for traditional health insurance coverage.

The New York Health Act would take the place of current public health coverage programs, with single-payer health coverage, including long-term care, for all New Yorkers.

The program would be funded publicly, including existing federal support for Medicaid and Medicare.

According to the Assembly, New Yorkers would no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles, copays, out-of-network charges, or have limited provider networks….

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VIDEO: New York Health Act Rally, Kingston Daily Freeman

By Celia Watson Seupel, Nov 25, 2019

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Some 80 supporters of the New York Health Act gathered Monday morning outside the Ulster County Office Building, posters and other props in hand, prior to a state Legislature public hearing on the proposed single-payer plan.

The hearing, the last of four held across the state, drew a packed house in the county Legislature's chamber.

Opponents also were on hand at the rally, including one who parked a truck in front of the building that bore a painted message stating reasons to reject the plan: billions of dollars in new taxes, jobs at risk and hospital losses.

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a sponsor of the legislation, called that message "misinformation." In fact, the Bronx Democrat said, a hospital in his district at which 70 percent of patients are on Medicaid would become more stable.

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LETTER: Passage of NY Health Act would benefit many in New York, Hess, Recordonline

By Star D. Hesse,  November 25, 2019, Narrowsburg

The current jumble of healthcare plans has left millions of people without adequate or affordable healthcare. Single payer plans like the New York Health Act offer comprehensive healthcare coverage, including hearing aids, dental, vision, prescriptions and more to all, regardless of age, income, existing medical conditions, employment or immigration status. There are no premiums, co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket or out of network expenses, and you choose your own medical providers. Program cost is based on a graduated income scale. People with $25,000 a year or less pay nothing at all.

This is how the Affordable Care Act was supposed to work before the for-profit insurance industry wrecked it. The NY Health Act is not an unaffordable pipe dream. Financial analysis by UMASS/Amherst Economics Dept. Chairman Gerald Friedman found that 98 percent of New Yorkers will pay much less for a lot better healthcare under NY Health. Even with the greatly expanded coverage, there is a net savings for New York of $45 billion a year.

The NY Health plan is a silver bullet cure for what ails our current healthcare system. With funding cutbacks and spiraling healthcare costs, when people can’t afford the healthcare they need, we cannot allow this vital legislation, that will benefit so many, to be blocked by a special interest few. There is no room for profiteering in healthcare. We must pass the NY Health Act now. It will save lives, it will save money, and it’s the right thing to do.

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VIDEO: Outraged NYers Picket NY Health Plan Asso re Deadly Denials & Racist Algorithm, NYHA Campaign

November 21, 2019, Albany, NY – Activists from a coalition of healthcare professionals, unions and grassroots groups picketed the annual conference of the New York Health Plan Association (NYHPA), a trade association for the state’s health insurance companies. 

One week ago, advocates were shocked when NYHPA canceled the paid registration for Stillwater resident Scott Desnoyers to attend the meeting. Scott recently wrote an OpEd about his son’s tragic death. After missing a premium payment of $20, FidelisCare canceled his plan, which prevented him from being able to afford life-saving anti-depression medication, after which he committed suicide. (FidelisCare had $60 billion in revenue in 2018.)  This morning, when Desnoyers attempted to enter the conference with his family and a letterdetailing this outrageous story to the industry leaders responsible, he was manhandled and summarily ejected from the building - for video, click here

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NEWS: Jackson Heights Assembly challenger to campaign on healthcare, immigrant rights, Parrott, QNS

By Max Parrott, Nov 20, 2019 in Queens

Reproductive health advocate Jessica González-Rojas, an insurgent candidate the Assembly seat in District 34, officially launched her campaign to a crammed bar of supporters on Monday, Nov. 18.

González-Rojas, who has served as National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health executive director since 2006, detailed her platform of healthcare, racial justice and immigration reform.

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NEWS: Final public hearing on NYHA to be held Monday in Kingston, Paul Kirby, Daily Freeman

By Paul Kirby, Nov 19, 2019

KINGSTON, N.Y. — The final public hearing on the state Legislature's move toward creating a single-payer health care system in New York will be held Monday at the Ulster County Office Building in Kingston.

The hearing, being held by the health committees of the state Assembly and Senate, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on the sixth floor of the County Office Building, 244 Fair St. It will be preceded, at 9 a.m., by a rally and press conference outside the building, put on by supporters of the New York Health Act.

“Hudson Valley residents will be joining health care providers, nurses, labor leaders and members, patients, businesses and care givers to rally before the public hearing," a press release about the event states….

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LETTER: NYS needs quality long-term health care coverage, Keith Gurgui, Kingston Daily Freeman

By Keith Gurgui,  Nov 15, 2019, Town of Ulster

I’m a 28-year-old lifetime resident of the town of Ulster. For nearly 10 years, I have been living at home with the help of 24-hour personal care, after a spinal cord injury in late 2009 left me a quadriplegic.

The state of New York, like the rest of the United States, is at a crossroads of a growing home care crisis. Medical advancements and a growing understanding of human health have us living longer and surviving injuries that once were death sentences. Over time, this has created an inevitable increase in the need for quality, community-based long-term care.

New York could be the first state to not only create a universal health care system, but one that covers comprehensive long-term care coverage — one of the most critical, yet overlooked, components of a stable health care infrastructure.

Opponents of universal coverage who argue it is unaffordable fail to consider the heavy cost society already pays through the lack of coverage that leaves individuals sick, unemployed and in need of support. We all desire to live out our days at home, as independently as possible, with dignity. But the systems necessary to adequately fulfill that desire are woefully ill-equipped to satisfy such a demand.

Join me and the Caring Majority campaign at 10 a.m. Nov. 25 at the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair St., Kingston, where state legislators will be holding their second public hearing on the latest iteration of the New York Health Act, and help us make history.

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LETTER: Wanted: Real health care for all, Dr. Leonard Rodberg, NY Daily News

By Dr. Leonard Rodberg, Nov 15, 2019

Dr. Rodberg is the research director, NY Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program 

A universal, state-funded health care plan would benefit every New Yorker. Surely the residents of the richest state in the richest nation on Earth can afford the right to health care that residents of every other advanced country already enjoy. As a board member of the Campaign for New York Health, I know that many studies conducted by us and others have shown that the taxes to fund New York Health Act would, in fact, be substantially less than what private insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles now cost us, and they would be fairer, based on ability to pay. We should demand that our Legislature take this opportunity to do something wonderful for the residents of this state and make universal, comprehensive, affordable health care available to all of us. 

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NEWS: Regardless of Who Becomes President, ‘Medicare for All’ May Happen in NY, Bill’s Sponsors Say

By Zachary Folk, Nov 5, 2019 at 8:54 pm by West Sider

New York state politicians have been discussing a Medicare for All-type health insurance system for nearly 30 years. But never before has the New York Health Act seemed so achievable as it does today, politicians said at a forum on Monday.

State Senator Robert Jackson, who represents parts of the Upper West Side, along with Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill, hosted a town hall at the West End Collegiate Church on 77th Street on Monday to discuss the proposed bill with the community. Jackson was joined by Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and Carlyn Cowen, chief policy and public affairs officer for the Chinese-American Planning Council. Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Rivera both chair the health committees in their respective chambers of the legislature. They were joined by several community members and healthcare professionals who testified on the urgent need for universal healthcare.

NYHA would provide all 20 million New Yorkers with the same services currently provided by Medicare, but without copays and deductibles. “It would cover all 20 million of us regardless of age, or income, or immigration status, or anything else,” Gottfried said. In addition to covering primary care, it would also cover things like prescription fees, dental, and long-term care – going far beyond what most plans on the healthcare marketplace offer. NYHA would also eliminate restricted provider networks, allowing patients to choose which doctor they want to see without having to worry about out-of-network charges….

A livestream of the town hall can be found at Senator Jackson’s Twitter feed (@SenatorRJackson). If you have any questions about NYHA, the senator will be hosting another town hall on November 12, at the Y.M. & Y.W.H.A. at 54 Nagle Ave.

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NEWS: Electeds Make the Case for Single-Payer Healthcare for New York, Engel, NY County Politics

By William Engel, Nov 5, 2019

Rachel Madley, 24, had just entered high school when her doctor diagnosed her with Type 1 diabetes. From that point on, her life became a living nightmare. Her parents had to go into debt to afford her treatment. More egregiously, she constantly had to fight with her insurance company to get the medicine she needed.

She recalled one particular incident in college when she risked going a weekend without insulin – which, as a diabetic, is life-threatening.

“I started the process a few weeks before so I could be sure that I would get insulin,” recalled Madley. “My insurance company either denied it multiple times or tried to charge me the full price for it. I went to the pharmacy to try and get a refill, and it was not going through with my insurance, or it was showing up with a $400 out-of-pocket cost. So I called my insurance company, and they were closed for a three-day weekend. I panicked; I didn’t know what to do. But luckily, my pharmacist saw how stressed I was, and she actually gave me the insulin at no charge until we could figure things out.

What the experience taught me is that insurance companies value profit over my life, and over everyone’s life” ….

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