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Editorial: State health plan faces political test, Middletown Record Online

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Editorial: State health plan faces political test, Middletown Record Online

October 31, 2019 

The big news concerning the state of health care in New York this week came from The Wall Street Journal which reported that “New Yorkers are waiting hours and lining up down the street to tell state legislators the same refrain: fix health care.” The crowds are showing up to testify as legislators seek information about “the New York Health Act, which would establish universal, guaranteed health care across the state with a single-payer plan.” as the Journal reported.

Where do legislators get the idea that this is a state concern and should not be left to private enterprise or the federal government? From the state Constitution, that’s where.

As the bill’s sponsors point out, the Constitution holds that “The protection and promotion of the health of the inhabitants of the state are matters of public concern and provision therefor shall be made by the state and by such of its subdivisions and in such manner, and by such means as the legislature shall from time to time determine.”

The plan being considered at these legislative hearings around the state starts by assuming that federal and state funds now used to provide health care would be available to the new program, a logical approach but one that might have to overcome the kinds of political objections that have greeted Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and any other attempt to provide a broad-based system similar to the ones offered in every other developed nation, places where health outcomes are better than ours as is access to all sorts of health care and patient satisfaction. After all, the only category in which the United States leads the world when it comes to health care is cost....

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NEWS: Hearings on Single-Payer Health-Care Plans Draw Crowds Around New York, West & Vielkind, WSJ

Advocates hope that the number of personal and painful stories shared during the hearings will build momentum to pass the legislation

By Melanie Grayce West and Jimmy Vielkind, Oct. 28, 2019 

New Yorkers are waiting hours and lining up down the street to tell state legislators the same refrain: fix health care.

Workers, physicians, nurses, parents, business owners, the elderly and the infirm have been testifying at hearings around the state about the New York Health Act, which would establish universal, guaranteed health care across the state with a single-payer plan. During the most recent forum, at a public library in the Bronx last week, people filled a 150-seat auditorium to hear testimony that ultimately ended when the library closed for the day.

Allison Marotta, a 25-year-old New Yorker with Type 1 diabetes, said that in a few weeks she will no longer be carried under her parents’ insurance. She isn’t eligible for Medicaid and said she can’t afford a state-sponsored program. Her monthly care costs will exceed $2,000 a month without insurance for insulin alone, with supplies and doctor’s appointments quadrupling that number, she said.

“I will not be able to afford this,” Ms. Marotta said through tears. “After my 26th birthday I will no longer have access to my team of medical doctors and I will begin to ration insulin and medical supplies.”

Advocates hope that the onslaught of personal and painful stories shared during the hearings—three have happened so far and at least one more is expected—will build momentum to pass the legislation. They say the plan would provide New Yorkers with complete health coverage without deductibles, copays or out-of-network charges.

Versions of the Health Act have previously been taken up and passed by the Assembly, which has long been dominated by Democrats, but there was no vote on the bill during this year’s session—the first in a decade during which Democrats also controlled the state Senate.

During a press conference before the Bronx hearing, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, chair of the senate’s health committee, said this year will be different. The Health Act, he said, will be a “central part” of the conversation of the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

“We know that health care is something that we all struggle with,” he said. “And now we are saying that we have a solution to deal with that in the state of New York.”

Still, there are political roadblocks at the Capitol in Albany. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Yonkers, hasn’t embraced the bill, as she attempts to balance the needs of moderate Democratic senators from suburban areas—whose electoral victories helped propel the party into the majority—with those of more liberal members who support the bill.

In a statement, Ms. Stewart-Cousins committed to discussing the bill, and said “Improving our broken health-care system is a Senate Democratic priority and a major concern.” A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, said he would discuss the issue with his members.

State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a Republican and ranking member of the Senate’s Health Committee, has called the Health Act highly impractical. “No taxpayer-funded program can afford unlimited and unrestricted health care,” Mr. Gallivan said earlier this month.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to expand access to health insurance, but has thrown cold water on the Health Act. The governor has questioned whether a single-payer system could exist on a state scale as opposed to a national one, and said he doesn’t believe the federal government would give the necessary Medicaid waivers to implement such a bill.

Leanne Politi, a spokeswoman for the Realities of Single Payer, a coalition of health insurance and business groups that supports universal coverage but not a single-payer system, said the testimony and questions raised at the public hearings has only reinforced members’ opposition to a statewide, government-run single-payer system. Many people currently uninsured are eligible for low or no-cost health coverage right now.

“State lawmakers should explore other ways to get the remaining individuals covered as well as addressing issues which will lower the costs of care making coverage more affordable,” said Ms. Politi. “Let’s fix what is broken instead of throwing out the entire system.”

Bronx resident Helene Reed explained to lawmakers at last week’s hearing how two children she cares for lost health insurance, despite qualifying for a state program.

Andrew P. Raia, a Republican assembly member from Long Island, said the problems they are encountering are with the current Medicaid system.

“Reach out to your state legislators, let them be your advocate,” Mr. Raia said.

“And then what happens?” asked Ms. Reed. “Tell me, what can they do to help me?”

“I would reach out to your state representatives,” said Mr. Raia, “and see if they can help you cut through the red tape.”

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LETTER: Vermont, N.Y. reform different, Walter Carpenter, Riverdale Press

By Walter Carpenter, Oct 27, 2019

As a Vermont health care activist, I enjoy seeing The Riverdale Presspop up on my alerts: Both for the frequency of your supportive coverage, and your insightful local contributors.

When I saw your editorial, I needed to respond, despite not being a Bronx resident. “The previous attempt — in Vermont — was a disaster” needs correction, and I hope this is OK with the editors.

Please allow me to offer some history as I was in the thick of that fierce battle.

No single-payer plan ever materialized. When Vermont passed its historic Act 48 mandating that health care should be a public good for all Vermonters, we were proud of our state legislature, taking the initiative to lead a health care revolution in America....

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POV: What Would Medicare for All Cost You? Lisa Rowan, Life Hacker

By Lisa Rowan, Oct 16, 2019

Democratic candidates for president want to overhaul health care. But who will pay for it? That was the question during last night’s fourth primary debate, which featured 12 candidates on one stage vying for attention. But the discussion around health care may have resulted in more questions than answers. A lot of the details are murky, but right now, it looks like government-sponsored health care wouldn’t dramatically increase your out-of-pocket costs—it would actually lower what you pay for care.

A portion of the night focused on Medicare for All, the general idea that the government should run the United States health care system. There are several ideas for doing it, but the overall goal is that everyone would get some level of insurance for free....

A 2018 Vox analysisof data from the New York Health Act found that new taxes levied to pay for health care would probably replace the same amount of money spent on health care premiums, whether that cost is covered by you or your employer....

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Interview: No More Compromise on Abortion, Featherstone, Jacobin

Interview by Liza Featherstone with Jenny Brown, Oct 18, 2019

Jenny Brown’s new book Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now, the latest in the Jacobin Seriespublished by Verso, draws on decadesof history and organizing experience to explain how we can win this fight over women’s reproductive labor.

Brown, also author of Birth Strike(PM Press, 2019), has organized with National Women’s Liberation, Gainesville Women’s Liberation and Redstockings. She spoke with Jacobin’s Liza Featherstone at New York’s Strand Bookstore on October 10. A Kickstarter to raise funds for the launch of Without Apology can be found here....

So, National Women’s Liberation has its roots in Redstockings, in those sixties radical movements, and we are trying to continue that tradition. We teach classes, we put out books, we put out information, but we’re also organizers. We’re hoping to create a study and action guide to go with this book.

It’s now easy to do a self-managed abortion, with pills. There are all kinds of regulations and restrictions around it. These are completely unnecessary. And why is it only doctors in most states who can provide abortions? This is a choke point that has been used against us — and Lucinda Cisler predicted that it would be. Some states have made it possible for other practitioners to provide abortions. They have just as good outcomes. It’s fine. So we need to make it so that anybody who’s a trained practitioner can provide an abortion. We need to not just try to keep these abortion bans from coming down the pike, but really expand our rights.

We also have done a lot of organizing around national health insurance. For example, the New York Health Act, which is basically statewide single payer. Everybody would be covered, and it includes abortion. Rather than this continual forty-year fight to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, which would still mean that you’d have to be on Medicaid to get your abortion funded — that leaves a whole lot of people out. What we really need is expanded, improved Medicare for all that coversabortion and birth control. We think that is the way to go. In fact, Redstockings pioneered this. In 1989 they changed their call for “free abortion on demand” to “free abortion on demand through a national health system.” We really need to win national health care....

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VIDEO: Bronx Public Hearing: The New York Health Act, NYS Senate & Assembly Health Committees

Oct 23, 2019 in The Bronx Library Center, Members of the NYS Senate and Assembly Health Committees take public testimony on NYHA

Senate and Assembly Health Committee Chairs Gustavo Rivera and Richard Gottfried will take testimony to examine the New York Health Act. This is part of a series of hearings on this topic to gather input from around the state.

Cost remains a primary obstacle to accessing healthcare whether an individual is insured, underinsured or uninsured and those that are able to access healthcare are often left with significant debt. 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, copays, out-of-network charges or have limited provider networks.

Watch Archived Video Here and Find Written Testimony Submitted


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VIDEO: Community comes together to rally for free and affordable health care, News12 the Bronx

October 23, 2019

Labor leaders, nurses and caregivers came together Wednesday and testified to the Senate and Assembly committees on health care at a public hearing.

Over 40 supporters testified. "No one should have to decide between lifesaving treatment and putting a roof over their head," said nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez.

If passed, the New York Health Actwould provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New Yorker.

Elected officials also weighed in on what they are calling a flawed system. They say the problem with the current system is that the decisions of health care are not being made by doctors and their patients. They say they are being made by insurance companies.

The bill could pass as early as January, when legislators are back in session.

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ARTICLE: Single-payer health care would benefit patients and workers, union leaders say, Crains

By Jennifer Henderson, Oct 24, 2019

Local union leaders addressed concerns Wednesday over single-payer health care, saying it would benefit patients as well as health care workers.

They did so at a joint Senate and Assembly hearing on the New York Health Act, which was held at the Bronx Library Center.

Though arguments against the legislation, which would be funded through progressive taxation, have included that industry workers will lose their jobs or go without wage increases, union leaders said there are ways to mitigate such results.

"The members of our union see the consequences of our broken health care system every day," said Dell Smitherman, downstate political director at 1199 SEIU, who testified at the hearing. That includes people arriving at emergency departments at advanced stages of a disease because they don't have access to primary and preventive care, he said, as well as families being forced to make choices about maintaining health care coverage or paying for other necessities.

Though 1199 SEIU has a national benefit fund that provides comprehensive health insurance to its members and their families with no out-of-pocket costs, Smitherman said: "We recognize that what we have been able to win at the bargaining table is more and more rare; across the country, out-of-pocket costs for health care consumers have been rising."

In New York 1.1 million people are uninsured and more are underinsured while many pharmaceutical and medical device companies are seeing double-digit profit margins, and insurers have benefited from a congressional tax overhaul, he said.

"It is true that our benefit fund would no longer provide health insurance under a single-payer plan, like New York Health. That would require major organizational change on our part," Smitherman said. "But our leaders and our members know that winning universal health care for all and ending the suffering for far too many under the current system would be worth that disruption."

Smitherman also testified on the potential effects of single-payer health care on hospital revenues and jobs.

If reimbursement rates under a single-payer system are consistent with current public payer rates, the number of safety-net hospitals in financial distress from not having a significant number of private-payer patients would "spread much more broadly and lead to a reduction in access to care and significant job losses," he said.

Though health care jobs will be affected as the industry focus shifts toward community-based services, job loss can be lessened by teaching workers to be peer or nutrition coordinators, for instance, or community health organizers, he said.

"Our benefit fund and training fund can continue to work with the state and other partners to make sure that we transition workers into that future," he said.

Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association, testified in support of single-payer health care.

"The current system is designed to compromise care rather than provide it," Sheridan-Gonzalez said. It would be ideal to have a national plan, but there needs to be a starting point for single-payer health care, she added.

Under the New York Health Act, "we believe that we would be able to negotiate raises because we don't have to worry about health care," she said. For instance, rather than health care being an additional factor to fight for, more energy could be put toward improving salaries and working conditions, she said.

Aside from union leaders, Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of New York City Health + Hospitals, provided testimony at Wednesday's hearing, kicking off the event.

As a physician, "a single-payer system would allow me to spend more time on caring for patients and less time on filling out forms and fighting with insurance companies," Katz said.

A single-payer system would broaden health care coverage, he said, and help to reduce the administrative burden felt by safety-net hospitals.

For all the support, however, single-payer health care is met with strong criticism.

An organization called the Realities of Single Payer, which counts the state Health Plan Association among its members, said in a statement issued Wednesday that 150,000 workers would lose their jobs should the legislation be implemented, having a "ripple effect on local economies."

"The members of the Realities coalition are supportive of adopting ways to make coverage more affordable and to get every single New Yorker covered," the coalition said. "Let's fix what is broken instead of blowing up the entire system and replacing it with an even more expensive, experimental, government-run system."

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NEWS: Gottfried to Host Bronx Press Conference on Single Payer Healthcare Bill, NY County Politics

by New York County Politics, October 23, 2019, in Lawmakers on the Move

Assembly Member Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea, Midtown) will be holding a press conference on his New York Health Act today.

The New York Health Act, which Gottfried is sponsoring, would establish universal single-payer health coverage for all New Yorkers. If passed, New Yorkers would no longer have to pay premiums, co-pays or out-of-network charges.

This hearing is the third in a series of statewide hearings on the Assembly bill.

The event will take place today at 9:30 a.m. at the Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Road.

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NEWS: New York Health Act gets Bronx hearing, Young & Eisenberg, Politico

The Assembly and Senate Standing health committees hold their third joint public hearing in the Bronx today on The New York Health Act.

SPONSORS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NEW YORK HEALTH ACT’S CHANCES IN 2020 — POLITICO’s Shannon Young: New York Democrats are forging ahead with their proposal to transform the state’s health care systeminto a single-payer model even as the party's presidential candidates debate their own plans for reform. The Assembly and Senate health committees will hold their third and penultimate joint public hearing Wednesday on The New York Health Act, legislation NY A5248 (19R) /NY S3577 (19R) that seeks to establish comprehensive single-payer health coveragefor all New Yorkers. The meeting, set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Bronx Library Center, comes less than two weeks after the committees held a joint public hearing in Rochester, signaling momentum on the issue which had largely stalled since lawmakers considered it in May.

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POV: Health care should be a fundamental human right, Michael Hinman, Riverdale Press

By Michael Hinman, Oct 19, 2019

Two years ago, in these very pages, I shared something deeply personal that before that was only really known by family members and people close to me.

I’m in remission from a medical condition known as trigeminal neuralgia. It’s a condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, a facial nerve that connects the brain with the top, middle and bottom part of our face.

When it flares up and I suffer an “attack,” it’s one of the most intense pains I could imagine anyone ever feeling, and it can last for hours. The best way to describe it is someone stabbing me in the face with a knife, pulling it out, and then doing it again. And again. And again.

It’s a condition so painful and potentially debilitating, it’s one of a handful of conditions that have earned the moniker of “the suicide disease.”

I’m one of the lucky ones, however. My TN is atypical....

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POV: Single-payer health care needed to slow runaway costs, Joseph S. Testa, Buffalo News

By Joseph S. Testa, Oct 13, 2019

Dr. Joseph S. Testa is a physician in the Town of Tonawanda

It was very encouraging to read State Sen. Patrick Gallivan traveled to Canada on a two-day fact-finding trek with the purpose of collecting information on their single-payer health care system. I hope more senators will follow his lead.

However, I disagree with his rejection of single payer.

As a practicing physician, my colleagues and I hear on a daily basis how fed up our patients are with escalating co-pays, premiums, co-insurances, deductibles and drug prices. We all have patients that do not follow through on treatments due to excessive out-of-pocket expenses. Many insurance companies are now unable to afford the high cost of medications and have begun making partial payment to suppliers in order to get them. Another backbreaker to Americans, and probably unknown to State Sen. Gallivan, is this little-known fact: At the time of retirement most will need $230,000 to $250,000 in savings for their health care. Yes, up to $250,000.

Of course, they’ll also need money for food, clothing, utilities, etc. How much do Canadians need set aside in retirement for health care? Nothing....

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POV: Votes might be in Albany, but all politics are local, Riverdale Press

By Jeffrey Dinowitz, Oct 12, 2019

The author is the Assemblyman representing the 81st district, which includes Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield.

As a society, we spend a lot of our time squabbling about the big picture — abstract, often controversial, ideas that might only impact us once or twice in our lives. Meanwhile, the issues that impact us every day — housing, transportation, education, public health and safety — are frequently pushed aside or only discussed as a societal afterthought.

For most of us, however, our daily conversation revolves around what pundits call “kitchen table” issues: Potholes which never seem to get fixed, buses which never seem to have a seat and are always late, or how overcrowded classrooms might be hurting our kids’ education.

Everybody who has met me knows that these kitchen table issues are what get me up in the morning….

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POV: Universal health care is really worth trying, Riverdale Press

By Heather J. Smith, October 12, 2019

Things began to unravel on the day after Christmas 2016.

I came home to my native North Carolina for the holiday, to the house my then-husband and I lived in before I got a job in New York. Midday, mom stood to stretch her legs. She fell backward in her chair, gasping for air.

Life changed for both of us forever at that moment.

In the emergency room, routine triage shifted to panic. Mom’s blood pressure was 230/190. They put her in a bed and started an IV. An army of nurses with a parade of drip bags frowned at the vital sign monitor.

A medication pulled her from the brink of a stroke. She was prepped for a chest X-ray. She resisted. We found out why. No fan of modern medicine, mom dismissed the lumps as mastitis. It was Stage 3 breast cancer.

The next few weeks were a blur. Doctors. Conflicting prognoses. Painful biopsies. Throughout, my mother — weak, worried, pale — assured me things would be OK. A good mother soothing her frightened child.

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SPECIAL PRESS REPORT: Perspective from a future doctor, Riverdale Press


If single-payer health care is passed in New York — or anywhere else in the country, for that matter — expect the sky to fall.

That’s the clarion call of Sally Pipes, the president and chief executive of the California conservative think tank Pacific Research Institute, in an opinion piece published in The Riverdale Presslast July.

Without citing her source, Pipes warned of a country where a shortage of more than 120,000 doctors would exist — 40 percent of them citing burnout as the primary cause of them leaving the medical field, and dissuading their children from becoming doctors. That burn out, Pipes claims, is caused by “bureaucratic tasks” — something that would “smother” doctors if the government took over health care, like what’s proposed with the New York Health Act....

Joseph Tharakan began classes at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Morris Park just as the push for health care reform in New York picked up significant steam with a Democratic takeover of the state senate. Under a single-payer system, his life as a medical doctor will likely be far different than his predecessors — along with the compensation that comes with it.

“I’m not worried at all,” said Tharakan, a product of Riverdale and the Bronx High School of Science. “In fact, I think it’s a great idea. The passage of the New York Health Act would be fantastic.”

And he’s not alone....

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EDITORIAL: Patience for health patients, Riverdale Press

Oct 12, 2019

Health care in the United States is a $3.5 trillion industry, with New York — at a cost of more than $10,725 per person, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — making up more than $163 billion of those costs.

From pretty much the beginning, health care is something Americans have treated as a commodity. We receive services, and we pay for those services.

As medicine grew more complex, costs became more and more difficult to handle. Late in the 19th century, what would become the modern medical insurance industry was born. However, it wouldn’t be until the 1920s that such offerings became more widely available.

Unless you’ve lived outside the country for any extended period of time, the only health care we have known is one that exists through our health insurance. We pay out premiums on a regular basis, and when it comes time to cash in to receive those services, many times we have to pay even more out of pocket, typically up to some pretty sizeable caps....

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SPECIAL PRESS REPORT: Transforming into a single-payer health care state, Riverdale Press

By HEATHER J. SMITH, Oct 12, 2019

Universal health care isn’t a new concept. The first modern iteration of such a system was first implemented in 1883 by Prussian leader Otto von Bismarck in the country that later became Germany.

The United Kingdom passed its own legislation in 1911 to cover primary care of the working class — about a third of the country’s population. Several European countries followed suit in the 1930s, with many of them — including the United Kingdom — adopting a universal coverage model over the next 20 years.

While each country with universal health care employ different administrative models, tax revenue is the common funding denominator. The U.K. government directly runs its health care system, while others in places like Germany, France and Japan use a two-payer system mixing both private and public funds. In some countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, a mixture of private insurance and government-funded health care exists, but insurance companies are prohibited from denying coverage for anyone based on age or pre-existing conditions....

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SPECIAL PRESS REPORT: Slow road to reforming health care, Riverdale Press

Oct 13, 2019

Dr. Phil Schneider likes to keep it simple.

Walking into the speech pathologist’s Whitehall clinic, patients generally don’t find much more than a small sparsely decorated waiting area, leading to an office dominated by Schneider’s desk, with a big window facing Independence Avenue.

Despite running a number of similar offices throughout the city — and even a pair in Israel — Schneider runs his practice without the standard office staff one might expect. Because of that, Schneider tends to deal with all his own paperwork, most of which deals directly with health insurance companies.

Receiving standard health care can be challenging enough through such insurance. When it comes to specialists like Schneider, it’s an everyday uphill battle that eats more and more of his time....

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ARTICLE: Single-payer health care in NY? Lawmakers hear both sides, Jack Watson, RochesterFirst

By Jack Watson, Oct 10, 2019

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Legislators from the New York State Senate and Assembly gathered Thursday at University of Rochester to hear testimony for the New York Health Act, a bill that aims to bring single-payer health care to the state.

The bill would create a health care system operated by New York State, at a cost one study from the RAND Corporation estimates at $130 billion, which factors in the new combined payroll and non-payroll tax introduced by the bill.

State Assemblyman Harry Bronson from the 138th district, as well as State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, both from New York City, spoke in support of the bill.

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ARTICLE: Rally held for New York Health Act at Rochester Art Museum, WHECTV

By WHECTV, Oct 10, 2019

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — People came out to show support for universal healthcare in New York.

Advocates representing state providers, nurses, patients, businesses, and caregivers rallied on Thursday in front of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester.

The rally came after the public hearing on the New York Health Act. The act would provide complete health coverage without deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks, or out-of-network charges....

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LETTER: No, you can't take it with you, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

By Barbara Estrin, Oct 6, 2019

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” Joe Biden declared on the day that General Motors (already holding out for higher medical co-pays and deductibles in the new contract) cut strikers’ health insurance, forcing the union to pay for COBRA. On Sept. 26, GM restored worker health benefits, but the issue of employer-based insurance remains.

Although the strike might be settled by the time this letter is printed, the truth is GM workers are not alone: 28 percent of people on an employer plan will not be on that same plan one year later.

You like your employer health plan? You better cross your fingers, because 1-in-4 people on employer plans will come off their plan in the next 12 months.

The GM workers’ strike changes the stance of unions. Workers are not only striking for consistent health benefits, they are also striking against the “gig economy,” which puts some GM workers outside the benefit package altogether. By 2020, the number of self-employed or part-time employees is expected to reach 42 million. And the autoworkers union is fighting to make more workers full-time....

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NEWS: State Legislature Hears Testimony on Single-Payer Health Care System for All NY’ers, WXHC

Oct 10, 2019

Members of the New York State Legislature held a schedule hearing today (October 10) where they took testimony on the potential enactment of the New York Health Act.

The proposed legislation would replace traditional health insurance and public health coverage programs with a comprehensive single-payer system for all New Yorkers.

Such a program would be publicly funded and include existing federal support for Medicaid and Medicare.

Residents would no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles, copays, out-of-network charges or have limited provider networks....

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VIDEO: Rochester Hearing weighs pros and cons of single-payer health care, WROC, Rochester First

By WROC Staff, Oct 10, 2019

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Senate and Assembly Health Committees were in Rochester Thursday for a public hearing on the New York Health Act.

The New York Health Act, known legally as Senate Bill S3577, would establish universal, single-payer coverage for all New Yorkers. The program would be publicly funded, including existing federal support for Medicaid and Medicare.

THIS MORNING: Supporters of universal healthcare speak ahead of hearing on New York Health Act at University of Rochester. We’re hearing from both sides tonight on  — Jack Watson (@JackWatsonTV) October 10, 2019

Supporters say the passage of this bill wold mean New Yorkers would no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-network charges, or have limited provider options....The Rochester hearing is the second in as series of statewide hearings on the bill, with other hearings scheduled to take place in New York City and the Hudson Valley. Video and a transcript from the first meeting is available online.

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POV: Proposed legislation would help New York's farm families, Henderson, Democrat & Chronicle

By Elizabeth Henderson, Oct 9, 2019

Elizabeth Henderson farmed for over 30 years in Newark, Wayne County, and is a member of the Board of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.

Despite New York farms being an essential part of the economy, many family-scale farmers (or their spouse) have to take an off-farm job that includes health insurance among its benefits. For the first 20 years of farming, I did not have any health insurance. I finally was able to afford a policy with big deductions when our farm’s customers, the members of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), voted to raise the amount they paid us for shares of produce each week so that we could afford health insurance. Knowing that we worked long hours in all kinds of weather using equipment that can be dangerous, they wanted us to have coverage.

It is a financial stretch for farmers to provide the most basic coverage for our employees, not to mention comprehensive coverage that includes vision, dental, hearing, mental health and long-term care and support services. Employer health coverage spending as a share of payroll is up more than 50 percent in a decade, and many farmers pay even higher percentages than larger companies.

The New York Health Act will guarantee comprehensive coverage to every resident and make care accessible by removing means-testing and financial barriers to healthcare. Eliminating the financial burden for employers to buy health coverage will make New York farm jobs more attractive. And the New York Health Act guarantees coverage regardless of immigration status. (By official estimates, over half the workers on NY farms are undocumented. ) The New York Health Act will alleviate the burden that many immigrants face in navigating the complexity of health insurance plans, many of which exclude their participation completely....

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LETTER: NY Health Act will cut the bureaucracy, Jean-Francois Briere, Times Union

By Jean-Francois Briere, Delmar, Oct 1, 2019

I was struck by the incoherence of "Proposed New York Health Act would be too costly" (Sept. 21). Three examples:

The author tells us that single payer insurance in New York state would be too expensive. Then, he goes on explaining that single payer insurance (at the federal level with Medicare and Medicaid) pays health care providers too little. You can't have it both ways: either it costs too much or it costs too little.

He tells us that the city of Pittsburgh has more MRI machines than the totality of Canada without realizing that this is the very reason why MRI exams are far more expensive in the U.S.: too many machines for too few patients.

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ARTICLE: Alpacas, not super PACs': Comegys injects fun, Robert Harding, AuburnPub

By Roberty Harding, Sept 23, 2019

Scott Comegys has positions on the most important issues facing all levels of governments. But as he campaigns for the 130th Assembly District seat, he wants to have some fun....

During his first campaign, it wasn't a secret that he is an alpaca farmer. He's a full-time town of Palmyra employee and spends his off time tending to 12 alpacas, chickens and a small vegetable farm. ...

The other issues that are part of Comegys' platform haven't changed from the 2018 race. He supports the New York Health Act, a bill introduced by Democratic legislators to establish a statewide single-payer health care system. The goal of the bill is to provide universal coverage, but he also noted that it would change how health insurance is funded in New York. 

"One of the main things that we pay for from our property taxes — what we're always being told — is 80% of that goes straight into Medicaid," Comegys said. "We have an option instead to take that Medicaid cost out of our property taxes, put it into a payroll tax that is more equitable as far as people paying for it and go into the New York Health Act. I think that would make people a lot happier and give them certainly more security in their health care."

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ARTICLE: Senator Amedore Faces Second Challenger, Chris Rowley, Shawangunk Journal

By Chris Rowley, Sept 6, 2019

NEW YORK – Jeff Collins, best known as a founder of the Hudson Valley Sudbury School in Woodstock, has thrown his hat into the ring for the 46th District’s State Senate seat currently held by George Amedore. The election will be held in 2020, and Collins will face Michelle Hinchey for the Democratic party nomination. Collins currently sits on the Woodstock Zoning Board of Appeals.

The 46th District runs from Marbletown and High Falls, up to the outskirts of Albany, and then executes a westward hook up the Mohawk Valley to the outskirts of Herkimer. Kingston is the biggest population center....

Collins has made healthcare issues the centerpiece of his campaign. He says he will press for a “single-payer” system in New York State. Collins said, “We’re a large enough state that we can enact a single-payer system, and have that system be a test bed for the rest of the nation, and show what happens when we really believe that health insurance should value people over profits, and that health care really is a human right.” He has also added his support to the proposed New York Health Act, which would set up a single-payer option in the state....

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LETTER: Home Health Aides: Low Wages, Long Hours, Phyllis Arnold, NYTimes

By Phyllis Arnold, Sept. 6, 2019 

On Duty Around the Clock, 27 Days a Month” (front page, Sept. 2) describes the horror of giving and getting care in this country. Working conditions for the caregivers — among the poorest and most marginalized people in the work force — are beyond nightmarish. And the scramble around making impossible decisions about what to give up and where to get the money to pay for care awaits almost all of us.

The caregiver and client in the story are two of the millions trapped in a fragmented, burdensome and failing care delivery system.

We cannot effectively address the issues piecemeal. We must instead look toward integrated, publicly supported, universal long-term care — including a serious examination of proposals like Universal Family Careand the New York Health Act. It is time to give the caring economy its due.

Phyllis Arnold

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LETTER: Join Us to Learn about the New York Health Act, Maddie Hunter, River Journal

By Maddie Hunter, on behalf of the Health Committee, CCoHOPE Indivisible, Sept 5, 2019

Last month one of the most trusted pharmaceutical companies in our country, Johnson and Johnson, was found by a court in Oklahoma to be liable for its contribution to the opioid crisis. The court ordered the corporation to pay the State of Oklahoma nearly half a billion dollars. Other pharmaceutical companies are in the headlines for playing games with patent protections or unjustifiably raising prices on life saving drugs.

I have a personal interest in the issue of drug costs. I am a cancer patient and a retiree. I rely on Medicare, supplemental insurance and a Part D drug plan to obtain a life-saving medication for an incurable blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. I am lucky to have these supports, but my copays end up being over $800 a month. Each year that I have used this medication, the copay has gone up at least twice. This run-away cost profile isn’t sustainable for me or for many other Myeloma patients I have met.

Fortunately, the State of New York is considering a fundamental solution to the problem of drug prices and the cost of care generally. The New York Health Actis a comprehensive single-payer plan that will provide better health care, better overall coverage, and lower costs....

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