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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 21, 2019

Contact: Katie Robbins, katie@nyhcampaign.org, 917-657-4663

Outraged New Yorkers Picket the NY Health Plan Association for Deadly Denials and Racist Algorithm 

Video of grieving father Scott Desnoyers and family being ejected from the meeting: https://www.facebook.com/CampaignforNewYorkHealth/videos/466544350636996/


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.

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November 19, 2019

Contact: 

Katie Robbins, Campaign for New York Health, katie@nyhcampaign.org, 917-657-4663

  

MEDIA ADVISORY

 

Activists Announce Picket Against NY Health Plan Association to Protest

 Deadly Denials and Racially Biased Limitations on Care 

  

(Albany, NY)  A coalition of patients, healthcare professionals, unions and activist groups will picket the annual conference of the New York Health Plan Association (NYHPA) to protest the industry’s widely-practiced methods that lead to devastating consequences for patients.

Advocates were shocked when the 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.) Advocates will be demanding transparency and that NYHPA stop shutting out patients.

Earlier this month, the New York State Departments of Health and Financial Services launched an investigation into UnitedHealth Group for the use of an algorithm that limits care to sicker Black patients, while biasing reimbursements toward healthier white patients. This algorithm is widely used in the industry according to UnitedHealth Group’s own promotional materials. Inside the conference, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, Michael McGuire, will be moderating a panel at the conference on “Understanding Cost Drivers.”

What: Picket outside the annual conference of the New York Health Plan Association (NYHPA)

Who: Patient advocates; nurses and healthcare providers; labor representatives; small business; and other health care experts and advocates

Where: 55 Eagle St. (corner of Eagle and Howard), Albany, NY

When: Thursday, November 21, 12:00PM-1:00PM 

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See last year’s disruption and picket.





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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 10th, 2019

 

CONTACT:

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

Mohini Sharma | mohini@metrojustice.org | 585-623-9633

LIVESTREAM: https://nyassembly.gov/av/live/

 

Upstate Hearing Highlights Popular Support for 

Universal, Guaranteed Healthcare 

Sharing personal struggles and expert testimony, dozens testified in support 

of the New York Health Act 

Rochester, NY— The second in a series of regional public hearings on the New York Health Act [A.5248, S.3577] convened in Rochester 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 representatives from labor, healthcare and social service providers, upstate businesses, workers, farmers, patients, and care-givers. 

The New York Health Act would establish a universal, guaranteed healthcare system, also known as a single-payer health plan covering all New York State residents. It would provide complete health coverage without deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks, or out-of-network charges. Primary, preventive, and specialty care; hospitalization; mental health; substance abuse treatment; reproductive health; dental, vision, and hearing; and prescription drugs and medical supplies would all be covered. 

 

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LETTER: Don't be fooled by naysayers, Henry Moss, Riverdale Press

By Henry Moss, August 18, 2019

The July 25 op-ed opposing Medicare for All by Sally Pipes is riddled with errors and exaggerations. This is not surprising given her prominent position in a right-wing Libertarian organization funded by the notorious billionaire Koch brothers.

Citing no evidence and clearly unfamiliar with the Medicare for All bills in Congress, she uses scare tactics to suggest that physicians will quit and hospitals will close were Medicare for All to be enacted. The bills, however, include no specifics on hospital and physician payments, stating only that payment will be negotiated with providers based on a reasonable estimate of the actual cost of providing care.

The House bill (H.R. 1384), for example, indicates that the government will negotiate operating budgets with individual hospitals and nursing homes based on historical costs, expected increases, patient population characteristics, and needed operating improvements, including achieving safe nurse staffing levels.

Capital budgets will be handled separately, so that a poor rural hospital will get its first MRI machine before an elite urban institution gets its fifth, or an unneeded new branch....

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LETTER: Leading on Affordable Healthcare, Leonard Rodberg, NY Daily News

By Dr. Leonard Rodberg, Queens College professor emeritus of Urban Studies, Aug 8, 2019

Manhattan: Re John Flanagan’s “A bad Rx for New York” (op-ed, Aug. 2): While most New Yorkers do have some type of health coverage, those with private insurance face rising premiums and costly deductibles, co-pays and out-of-network charges that, in too many cases, make it impossible for them to actually get the care they need.

Nearly half of New Yorkers are already covered by the public Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. Under the New York Health Act, everyone would be covered. No one would face financial barriers when they needed care (including long-term care), and access would no longer be controlled by insurance companies more concerned with their bottom lines than with the health of New Yorkers. Care would be tax-funded and, as the recent report from the RAND Corp. showed, would cost the vast majority of New Yorkers less than they now spend.

As the New York metro research director of Physicians for a National Health Program, I say that it’s time that New York led the way in making access to quality health care available to everyone. Leonard Rodberg, Queens College professor emeritus of Urban Studies

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LETTER: Leading on Affordable Healthcare, Leonard Rodberg, NY Daily News

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ARTICLE: Officials Voice, Support for Single-Payer Health Care, Nick Reisman, Spectrum (Central NY)

By Nick Reisman, August 8, 2019

Assemblyman Phil Steck is a supporter of a state-level version of single-payer health care. He says the debate over how to pay for health care costs in the U.S. will have an impact on New York's own debate over the proposed New York Health Act.  

"From a standpoint of cost savings, which is what we really need, the economy is spending way too much on health insurance. We need the single-payer plan," Steck said….  

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LETTER: Catastrophes are just imaginary, Elizabeth Rosenthal, Riverdale Press

By Elizabeth Rosenthal, MD, August 11, 2019

Sally Pipes’ imaginary scenario for what would happen to doctors and hospitals in this country if we adopted Medicare for All is just that: imaginary. All the evidence from history, both here and in other countries, shows us that the reality is completely different.

When Medicare was adopted in this country, it did not bring in socialism any more than our public schools, fire and police departments, libraries and parks did.

In other countries where single-payer plans were adopted — such as in Canada and Taiwan — they did not bring about all the catastrophes predicted by Ms. Pipes….

The incentives are all wrong in our system where private, for-profit insurance companies earn profits by denying care and successfully avoiding sick people. The more care they deliver, the lower the profits. And these companies are the ones that impose burdensome bureaucratic tasks upon doctors, not the government….

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LETTER: Tackling everything from abortion to marijuana, Richard Warren, Riverdale Press

By Richard Warren, Aug 5, 2019

I’m also glad that Biaggi will still be pushing for the New York Health Act. But then there’s Sally Pipes, the president and chief executive of the so-called think tank, the Pacific Research Institute. They think the free market — made up of many business people who care about nothing but profit — will magically solve our health care problems (re: Medicare for All will cripple doctors, hospitals,” July 25).

How using the health care model that the rest of the developed world successfully uses to cover all of its citizens will bankrupt our hospitals and drive doctors to other professions is a mystery to me....

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POV: The health insurance system's cruel indifference, Scott Desnoyers, Times Union

By Scott Desnoyers, Aug. 5, 2019

This was a $20 premium payment to his health insurer, FidelisCare, that he had missed because his phone had been shut off and he was moving. He never received the notice. When he learned about it, Danny paid the premium immediately, but FidelisCare told him that because it was past the first of the month, his plan would not resume until May.

Danny was on medications for depression. Without insurance, the medications cost $250. Danny could not afford that. Danny had no other choice. If we had Medicare for All — or, for New York state, the New York Health Act (NYHA) — my son would not have had to endure three weeks without his medications….

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POV: Happy Birthday, Medicare! Let’s Improve It, Elisabeth Rosenthal, LoHud

Elizabeth R. Rosenthal, M.D., Special to the USA TODAY NETWORK, July 31, 2019

Before 1965, half our seniors could not afford healthcare, paying doctors with chickens and corn; a quarter of Americans with chest pain feared medical cost more than death. 

Paid by the American Medical Association, Ronald Reagan criss-crossed the country, warning Americans that protecting the elderly with guaranteed healthcare would cause us to one day to “wake to find that we have socialism."

Despite virulent opposition, on July 30, 1965, Medicare became law.  It’s now America’s most trusted government program.   It reduces poverty among seniors. It increases grandma’s life expectancy. A majority of Americans  — Republicans, Independents, Democrats — want Medicare for everyone. 

As a physician, I know 54-year-old Medicare has issues. For many, it’s too expensive, with premiums, co-pays and deductibles. And there are too many health needs — needs critical to the health of the elderly — that Medicare doesn’t cover:  hearing, vision, dental and long-term care.  Patients who lack teeth are often under-nourished. Those with vision and hearing problems can become socially isolated, and then despondent…. 

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POV: New York needs universal health care, Alessandra Biaggi, New York Daily News

By Alessandra Biaggi, NY Senator for portions of the Bronx and Westchester County, July 30, 2019

When President Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law on July 30, 1965, establishing the first ever government health insurance for civilians, he remarked: “because the need for…action is plain…we marvel not simply at the passage of this bill, but what we marvel at is that it took so many years to pass.”

Fifty-four years later, as we consider the number of New Yorkers who still lack access to quality, affordable healthcare — and our relative inaction — his words resonate louder than ever.

With Medicare and Medicaid, we took the first step toward establishing health care as a right. Before 1965, private insurance was the only option. It remained out of reach for half of our nation’s seniors, forcing them to choose between emptying their savings or forgoing care altogether. By creating Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government intervened for the first time to ensure that seniors and low-income Americans were guaranteed health coverage — regardless of their ability to pay….

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LETTER: Passage of NY Health Act vital for young farmers, Bari Zeiger, Kingston Daily Freeman

By Bari Zeiger, president of the Greater Catskills Young Farmers Coalition, July 28, 2019

Farmers provide society with the nourishment required for life, and they steward numerous other crucial resources, such as air and water. 

However, when it comes to taking care of farmers, many face significant obstacles to accessing sufficient, affordable health care.

Agricultural work is physically and mentally intense; there are long hours bending and lifting (sometimes with potentially hazardous equipment, chemicals and/or livestock) in the sun and in treacherous conditions, as well as a seemingly continuous stream of unpredictable stressors that can threaten already thin profit margins.

The New York Health Act was identified as the highest priority among respondents in a 2018 survey that asked young New York farmers about the importance of several policy issues. Lack of health care access infringes on the ability of farmers to actualize their tremendous potential, as many are forced to find jobs off the farm to receive health benefits. Others may avoid addressing health concerns because of lack of coverage, or too little coverage, until they escalate to the point of emergency….

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POV: Celebrating a birth, anticipating a rebirth, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

By Barbara Estrin, July 28, 2019

Happy 54th birthday, Medicare! You increase our life expectancy and quality of life. You’re our most trusted health care program.

We want to extend the gift of life you have given us down through the generations — for our children and grandchildren — now.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed you into law on July 30, 1965. Millions of elderly Americans were dying, unseen by doctors, either unable to afford health insurance, or denied it because of pre-existing conditions.

To get you passed, Johnson compromised, guaranteeing for-profit insurers a continued role in Medicare and in the federal-state partnership of Medicaid, created at the same time. Pharmaceutical companies also got a win: a drug plan for seniors got scrapped.

Within 11 months (all records kept on paper and transported to the U.S. Postal Service), 19 million elderly Americans got Medicare cards, starting with Harry Truman, on July 1, 1966.

A federal agency, with only a handful of staff, was tasked with certifying full integration across more than 1,700 hospitals….

  • Racial disparities — health justice ...
  • Bad fixes in Medicare ...
  • Fraud control: Multi-payer upcharging ...

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AUDIO & NEWS: Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner Holds Town Hall In Saratoga Springs, WAMC

By Lucas Willard, July 26, 2019

New York State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, a Democrat who represents portions of Washington and Saratoga Counties, invited residents to a town hall meeting in Saratoga Springs Thursday night.

Marijuana, healthcare, property taxes, and more. 113th District Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner discussed a slew of issues at a town hall meeting at the Saratoga Springs Public Library….

Respondents within the district are becoming more receptive to single-payer healthcare. Four months ago, Woerner said 60 percent of respondents were in favor of a single-payer system. Today, that’s increased to 70 percent.

“I hear more people being in favor of this than I certainly did five years ago when I started.”

Woerner still has concerns about a single-payer model and the so-called New York Health Act, however. In a district where rural healthcare has become a primary concern, and in communities with older populations that rely on Medicare, Woerner says she is wary about how reimbursement rates for a single-payer system would affected local healthcare providers.

“But some of the studies have suggested, the RAND study has suggested, that the reimbursement rates could be cut by 40 percent. Which is a significant cut. And like I said, we’re seeing that where you’ve got high Medicare in the payer mix, it’s not sustainable. So that to me is a concern”….

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LETTER: Single-payer model offers best coverage, Barbara Keber, MD, Albany Times Union

Barbara Keber, MD, President, New York State Academy of Family Physicians,  July 11, 2019

The New York State Academy of Family Physicians, a statewide association of more than 6,000 physicians and medical students, is convinced that a single-payer model for health insurance is the best one for providing universal coverage while controlling costs. While we are pleased that the state Legislature will continue to hold hearings on this important issue, our hope is that the Legislature enacts it next session.

Single-payer would constrain costs by creating a statewide health care budget. It would ensure that all sectors of the health care system operate within those budgetary limits because it would process all claims, bills and payments. Single-payer would reduce the cost of health care simply by eliminating all the redundant forms, rules and procedures. Single-payer's statewide expenditure control would mean less micro-management of patient care….

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LETTER: Some Unions See Single-Payer’s Advantages, Kim Behrens, R.N., WSJ

Kim Behrens, R.N., June 9, 2019

Your editorial “Public Unions vs. Single-Payer” (June 1) fails to highlight a major theme of the historic public hearing: New Yorkers with commercial health insurance increasingly go without care because of cost. That’s according to two surveys carried out this year: one by the Altarum Healthcare Value Hub, the other by the Campaign for New York Health. Both found that no less than 50% of New Yorkers with insurance had to forgo doctor visits or skip filling prescriptions because they couldn’t afford them.

The skyrocketing cost of care is why I and the nurses of the New York State Nurses Association support the New York Health Act—single-payer legislation that will guarantee health care to everyone: free choice of provider, no deductibles, no copays, none of the bills that are driving so many into financial insecurity and even bankruptcy.

You cite a RAND study that says that single-payer would “require an additional $139 billion in annual tax revenue” in New York. What you exclude here is that for households with $105,300 in income, “average health care payments would decrease by $2,800 per person,” according to RAND.

Add up all your health-care costs and compare that total to the tax costs for the vast majority of New Yorkers. What you will see is that single-payer saves them money and that the $139 billion you write about is more than offset by what people are paying today.

This means more money in the pockets of union members who will be paying less for health care. They’ll have health care guaranteed if they get too sick to work, and lose their employer-sponsored insurance.

Kim Behrens, R.N., New York

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POV: League of Women Voters Supports a Single-Payer Health System, Madeline Zevon, Examiner News

By Madeline Zevon, June 4, 2019

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy through education and advocacy. The League has advocated on behalf of all New Yorkers for over 20 years on the issues of health care. The League believes that affordable, quality health care should be available to all New York State residents and that health care policies should include equitable distribution of services and the efficient and economical delivery of care.

As long as private health insurance corporations are the middleman between patients and providers, services will not be distributed in an equitable manner. Persons who are less likely to need care will have greater access to coverage, while those who are in need will go without. We believe that the way to achieve substantial and lasting reductions in the cost of care is to adopt a single-payer system such as New York Health.

In a single-payer system of publicly financed, privately delivered health care for all New York State residents, citizens will decide the level of basic care.… 

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LETTER: Universal health care right now, Barbara L. Estrin, Riverdale Press

By Barbara Estrin, June 2, 2019

I applaud The Riverdale Presseditorial supporting the urgency of the New York Health Act, first because it goes forcefully beyond its Feb. 17 opinion, citing state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi’s post-election caution on a bill key to her campaign victory. I agree with this week’s stand that we must forgo a healthy patience so that all New Yorkers can be healthy patients.

The Riverdale Presshas been a rare voice in the media, giving the New York Health Act coverage at all stages of the fight for passage. Its reporting is all the more important because so few New Yorkers even know about the bill, which will provide universal, comprehensive affordable health care at a time when — with high co-pays, prohibitive networks, huge deductibles — average families in our state pay more for inadequate coverage than they do for food or rent.

Since her post-election remarks, Sen. Biaggi has spoken in favor of the bill at numerous public forums in her district. Even before she was sworn in, she was the only state senator to cite her endorsement at the city council hearings on Dec. 8 of last year. And she is an official sponsor of this year’s senate bill….

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LETTER: Universal Health Care, David Gould, Ithaca Times

By David Gould, Local resident and owner of Sunbeam Candles, May 30, 2019

I am writing to support the passage of the New York Health Act (NYHA) that provides for universal health care for all New York residents. My wife and I own a small business in Tompkins County, and employ 12 persons full time during our high season. I offer my employees a certified living wage and benefits including an extremely expensive health insurance plan. Despite having insurance, I find my employees do not access their health care because their deductibles and copays are so high that they risk unaffordable medical bills and debt by seeking care.

I find this an outrage. Health care should be driven by purpose and for people, not profit as it is currently. The fact that the health insurance companies can take in so much profit and provide so little value makes that industry an utter scam. My employees and I would all welcome universal coverage managed and monitored by the state in which costs can be driven down and profit is no longer the incentive. We understand that we would pay a progressively determined tax instead of exorbitant premiums, which would end up being cheaper overall for everyone to cover health care….

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News Video: New York Health Act advocates head to Albany, Local Syracuse

By Staff, May 28, 2019

NEW YORK STATE (WSYR-TV) — Tuesday in Albany, the first Senate and Assembly hearing on the New York Health Act is taking place.

Advocates from Syracuse left from Destiny USA Tuesday morning to voice their opinions at the State Capitol.

The New York Health Act is legislation that would establish universal, single-payer healthcare in the state. The bill would also increase preventative care and aims to lower cost of prescriptions.

“People are really having challenges in meeting their healthcare needs.  So the New York Health Care Act will put us pretty much all on an equal level with very comprehensive health insurance that covers pretty much everything.  Doctors visits, hospital visits, pharmaceutics, long term care,” said Mark Fera.

The act would also get rid of networks, allowing people to pick their healthcare providers….

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MENTION: Hearings on Single-Payer Healthcare, Ben Max & Joey Fox, Gotham Gazette

By Ben Max and Joey Fox, May 29, 2019

On Tuesday, there will be a joint hearing on the New York Health Act, which would institute single-payer health insurance, but that legislation does not appear on the table for potential passage this year.

Read What to watch for this week in NY politics

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AUDIO NEWS: NYS legislature holds day-long single-payer hearing, North Country Public Radio

BY KAREN DEWITT (NYS CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT), MAY 29, 2019

The New York State legislature held as marathon day-long hearing on a proposal to enact single-payer health care in New York. A packed hearing room listened as supporters and opponents debated whether it’s the answer to the state’s health care gaps.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, prime sponsor of the legislation, known as the New York Health Act, laid out the problem. Millions of New Yorkers have some form of health coverage, he said. But many still face financial obstacles from private insurance companies in getting the care they need, because of unaffordable co-pays or coverage denials….

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ARTICLE: New York Lawmakers To Mull Pros, Cons Of Single-Payer, Kaiser Health News

May 28, 2019

The Wall Street Journal: New York State Lawmakers Weigh Single-Payer Health Bill State lawmakers heard hours of testimony for and against establishing a system of single-payer health care for New York during a Tuesday hearing in Albany as they weigh legislation on the topic. Groups representing hospitals worried that they would receive lower reimbursement rates that would prompt closures. Insurance companies warned that people would have to wait longer for specialist care. Mitch Katz, president of New York City Health & Hospitals, said a single-payer system would ensure health care as a human right. Public employee unions said they didn’t want to surrender health benefits won through contract talks. (Vielkind, 5/28)

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ARTICLE: NYS Lawmakers Weigh Single-Payer Health Bill, Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ

By Jimmy Vielkind, May 28, 2019

Arguments were in line with the national discussion about health care, and have played out in the Empire State for years

State lawmakers heard hours of testimony for and against establishing a system of single-payer health care for New York during a Tuesday hearing in Albany as they weigh legislation on the topic.

Groups representing hospitals worried that they would receive lower reimbursement rates that would prompt closures. Insurance companies warned that people would have to wait longer for specialist care.

Mitch Katz, president of New York City Health & Hospitals, said a single-payer system would ensure health care as a human right….

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ARTICLE: Single payer health care reaches furthest point yet, Liz Young, Albany Business Review

By Liz Young, May 14, 2019

The conversation around switching to a single-payer health care system in New York has reached one of its furthest points yet in the nearly three decades the proposed legislation has been around.

The state Senate and Assembly are planning to hold a public hearing on the New York Health Act later this month. It will be the first joint public hearing to be held on the bill, which Assemblyman Richard Gottfried first introduced in 1991.

The proposal passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly for four consecutive years before this year's session....

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AUDIO NEWS: Single Payer Hearing, Media Sanctuary on SoundCloud

May 29, 2019

The NYS Legislature held a hearing on May 28 at the Capitol on the issue of single payer health care. We hear from Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, the main sponsor; Dr. Mitch Katz of NYC Health and Hospitals; Heidi Siegfried, Center for the Independence of the Disabled; As. Phil Steck of Colonie; and Dr. George Jolly of Saratoga.

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AUDIO NEWS: Single Payer Health Care Gets Its Day in Albany, WNYC Public Radio

May 28, 2019 · by Karen DeWitt  From WXXI

During a marathon, day-long hearing Tuesday on a proposal to enact single payer health insurance in New York, a packed hearing room listened as supporters and opponents debated whether it’s the answer to the state’s health care gaps.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, prime sponsor of the legislation, known as the New York Health Act, laid out the problem. He said millions of New Yorkers have some form of health coverage. But many still face financial obstacles from private insurance companies in getting the care they need, because of unaffordable co-pays or coverage denials.

“Either we say, ‘That’s not acceptable, but oh, that’s too bad,' or we do something about it,” Gottfried said….

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ARTICLE: At packed hearing NY lawmakers weigh SP HC, Bethany Bump, Albany Times Union

By Bethany Bump, May 28, 2019

ALBANY — It's languished for more than two decades in the state Legislature, but a bill to create a single-payer health care system in New York may finally stand a chance now that Democrats have control of both houses.

At least that's what proponents of the New York Health Act are hoping.

At a lengthy, packed hearing on the bill held Tuesday in Albany, lawmakers heard from hospitals, health care leaders, municipal officials, patients, advocates, union leaders and others who all agreed that its goal of providing comprehensive, universal coverage to New Yorkers is laudable. But whether single-payer is the system to achieve that was the topic of spirited debate…

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VIDEO: Health Committees Hearing on NYHA, Gottfried & Rivera, NYS Senate

May 28, 2019 — from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm

Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried hear feedback and recommendations from health care providers, patient advocates, health coverage providers, labor representatives, employers and other stakeholders about the New York Health Act and its specific provisions.

Cost remains a primary obstacle to accessing health care, and those who are able to access care are often left with significant debt as a result. The New York Health Act would replace traditional health insurance coverage and public health coverage programs with comprehensive single-payer health coverage, including long-term care, for all New Yorkers. The program would be publicly funded, including existing federal support for Medicaid and Medicare. New Yorkers would no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-network charges or have limited provider networks.

Submitted testimony attached as 80+ pdfs

Watch Video and Download Offered Testimony

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