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VIEW: Healthcare Betrayal by New York State Senate Democrats, Ron Widelec, The Medium

By Ron Widelec, Mar 22, 2019

For years, Democrats in Albany were able to blame their failures on the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of renegade Democrats that caucused with Republicans and prevented progressive legislation from coming up for a vote. It was widely speculated Governor Andrew Cuomo was complicit in the creation of the IDC as a way of blocking progressive legislation that he did not support but did not want to have to veto, which would have caused backlash among the grassroots. In the wake of Trump’s election, there was a huge grassroots effort to defeat the IDC and the Democratic Party power brokers finally joined that effort to appease the grassroots. In the 2018 campaigns that followed, the new wave of Democrats promised a new style of doing business, in which a IDC-less Albany would usher in a new era of progressive policies. Many New York Senate candidates ran for office pledging to support transformative policies. A sweeping blue wave carried them to victory, giving the Democrats control of both houses of the New York legislature and the Governorship….

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VIEW: Healthcare Betrayal by New York State Senate Democrats, Ron Widelec, The Medium

By Ron Widelec, Mar 22, 2019

For years, Democrats in Albany were able to blame their failures on the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of renegade Democrats that caucused with Republicans and prevented progressive legislation from coming up for a vote. It was widely speculated Governor Andrew Cuomo was complicit in the creation of the IDC as a way of blocking progressive legislation that he did not support but did not want to have to veto, which would have caused backlash among the grassroots. In the wake of Trump’s election, there was a huge grassroots effort to defeat the IDC and the Democratic Party power brokers finally joined that effort to appease the grassroots. In the 2018 campaigns that followed, the new wave of Democrats promised a new style of doing business, in which a IDC-less Albany would usher in a new era of progressive policies. Many New York Senate candidates ran for office pledging to support transformative policies. A sweeping blue wave carried them to victory, giving the Democrats control of both houses of the New York legislature and the Governorship….

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LETTER: A Template for Health Care, Marc H. Lavietes, MD, Our Town Downtown

By Marc H. Lavietes, March 14, 2019

Colette Swietnicki’s article in the February 21 - 27 issue — “Enough already! Pass the New York Health Act” — is right on target. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act has shown us that centralization of the health care delivery system is beneficial. The ACA has both lowered the rate of rise of medical care costs and reduced the number of uninsured. But medical costs continue to rise and remain problematic for many Americans and medical debt remains the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. Only a universal single payer system can simplify this delivery system and eliminate waste. Opponents of NY Health argue that an abrupt transition to a universal single payer system will be traumatic.

In truth, transition to a single payer system is both feasible and the only way to minimize cost. At present, much of our health care dollar goes to administrative waste, i.e., pre-authorization, complicated billing and credentialing procedures and corporate profit. These can not be minimized by further incremental change.

As New Yorkers, we share a proud history of advancing progressive social legislation. Under Governor Al Smith 100 years ago, we passed momentous legislation regarding minimum wage and workplace safety issues that later served as a template for the New Deal.

Let us now provide the template for a robust national health care system to come.

Marc H Lavietes, M.D. Soho

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LETTER: It’s Time To Embrace Gottfried’s Health Act, Suzanne F Krull, Jamestown Post Journal

By Suzanne Flierl Krull, March 9, 2019

The editorial “NY Lawmaker Should Abandon Crusade for Single Payer Health Care (Post Journal, February 22, 2019)” asserts that NYS should “listen to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Empire Center for New York Policy” and abandon the New York Health Act (NYHA).

I take exception to this recommendation. Both the Empire Center and the Governor are heavily funded by the medical-industrial complex which works to protect our broken system, ultimately killing tens of thousands of Americans each year for lack of access to health care. That system also causes unending anguish for millions more to produce record-setting profits (and maintain incumbency).

Many people don’t consider The Empire Center be a policy center in the normal meaning of the phrase. Reliable experts view it as a creature of ultra-conservative oligarchs, funded by unseen pipelines of unidentified money, producing and disseminating studies of questionable validity across New York state in order to further the interests of the extremely wealthy. …

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LETTER: Let’s finally put an end to health care for profit, Patricia Meyer Lee, Buffalo News

By Patricia Meyer Lee, March 7, 2019

There’s been much talk about socialism in connection with health care. Taking the profit out of medicine in this country is seen as a full-fledged assault on capitalism. Opponents treat socialized medicine like a disease that would infect our entire market economy. No worries there. The United States will never become a socialistic nation. Too long has capitalism reigned.

There is much evidence that indicates the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Corporations push and shove their way through regulations to maximize profits at the expense of polluting land, air and water. And it isn’t just corporations, it’s absentee landlords and developers who receive huge tax incentives from government. They build luxury apartments and drive out middle- and lower-income inhabitants.

Let us be clear here. Capitalism without responsible regulation ravages the poor, the working class and destroys the environment. Labor unions, environmental groups, and now newly elected Congress members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are being demonized by conservatives. An army of lobbyists have been launched and paid for by health insurance companies to pressure politicians and feed false information to the public regarding the detriments of a health system built to serve everyone on equal footing. Health care for profit must end.

Patricia Meyer Lee
Tonawanda

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VIEW: Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, Feuerbach & Periyasamy, City and State

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VIEW: Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, Feuerbach & Periyasamy, City and State

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LETTER: Is Single-Payer Health Care a Pipe Dream? Elizabeth Rosenthal, New York Times

By Elizabeth Rosenthal, March 5, 2019

In the near future Medicare for all will join the heap of other impossible dreams that came true: women’s suffrage, Social Security, Medicare, integration and gay marriage.

All we need are bold leaders with imagination and a strong grass-roots movement to support them. They are on their way!

Elizabeth R. Rosenthal
Larchmont, N.Y.
The writer, a retired dermatologist, is on the board of Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro Chapter.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #32, Judy Fletcher, This Is the Bronx

By Judy Fletcher, March 4, 2019

Billing Compounds Serious Health Condition

Ten years ago, on an evening in February, the school where I teach music called to tell me that I had been confirmed for an exciting trip to China with other faculty and administrators. But I missed the call because I was being rushed to the hospital with a brain infection, which turned out to be encephalitis accompanied by a seizure.

I rarely get sick, and when I do, I usually just power on through until I get better. Things began in an ordinary enough way. I came home from school not feeling very well, but this time, my condition deteriorated rapidly until I felt so ill with flu-like symptoms that all I could do was crawl into bed and sleep. (A side-moral of this story is, even if you are 58 years old and healthy, you should listen to your mother when she tells you to get a yearly flu shot!) At the time, I had a lot of responsibilities in addition to my work. As I was crashing, I quickly arranged for my friend to pick up my csa order and for my husband to take my younger daughter to a college dance audition and stand in for me at two concerts at which friends were performing. The last thing I remember doing was putting the groceries in the freezer—and crawling back into bed.

My husband was relieved that, for once, I was giving in to being sick and seemed to be taking care of myself, and he let me sleep. But when I had been asleep for the whole day and he shook me gently to wake me up, he saw that my eyes were open but unseeing, and I did not respond to anything he said. So he called 911...

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LETTER: Enough already! Pass the New York Health Act! Colette Swietnicki, Chelsea News

By Colette Swietnicki, Feb 20, 2019

We don’t need any more studies, we need health care for all

Governor Cuomo’s progressive agenda came to a screeching halt when he put the brakes on the single-payer “Medicare for all” plan that much of the new Democratic state Senate majority campaigned on. Prior to the November elections, Cuomo said single-payer sounded like a good idea; but afterwards he added “ ... at the Federal level.” Now he is proposing a commission comprised of “health policy and insurance experts” to study other options, including “strengthening New York’s commercial insurance market,” the primary culprit responsible for our present broken system.

The New York Health Act was first introduced in the New York Assembly in 1992 by Chelsea’s own Richard N. Gottfried. It’s been around ever since, gaining more strength and approval in recent years with the worsening of our health care system. As New Yorkers have learned, the Affordable Care Act and other reforms are helpful but insufficient, leaving us at the mercy of the insurance companies.

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ARTICLE: Richard Gottfried’s Health-Care Crusade Is Paying Off, Raina Lipsitz, The Nation

By Raina Lipsitz, March 1, 2019
The NY State Assembly member has spent 27 years advocating for statewide health care. Now, his colleagues in Albany are finally catching up.

Two posters hang on the door of New York State Assembly member Richard Gottfried’s Albany office. One has a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., underneath a quote: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” The other says “Healthcare is a Human Right!” and urges the reader to “Pass the New York Health Act.”

First elected at age 23, Gottfried is now 71 and one of the longest-serving legislators in New York history. He has sponsored the New York Health Act in the Assembly since 1992. The Assembly has passed the bill, which would establish single-payer health care in New York, in the last four legislative sessions; now that the State Senate is also under Democratic control, it has a real opportunity to become law.

Gottfried is optimistic. After all, his Senate colleagues not only support the bill; many of them actively campaigned on it....

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

By Adam Gaffney, March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

By Barbara Dyskant, March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Helen Meltzer-Krim, February 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

#Big Pharma Greed Kills Fact Sheet here.

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

  • ACT UP/NY
  • Democratic Socialists of America
  • Fight Back Bay Ridge
  • Healthcare Equity Action League of New York
  • International Action Center
  • International Socialist Organization NYC
  • Metro New York Health Care for All
  • Peoples Power Assembly
  • Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro
  • Rise and Resist
  • Students for a National Health Program
  • Uptown Progressive Action
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SERIES: Healthcare in America #34, Danny Lugassy, MD, This Is the Bronx

By Danny Lugassy, MD, March 25, 2019

Most of the stories in this series have been told by patients or their families. They have often begun by describing comfortable lives — employed, insured, healthy. 

Medical calamity happens in a moment. For too many of us, financial and emotional calamity follows — creating a vicious cycle where illness begets debt, which exacerbates ill-health, a downward spiral of unstoppable anguish. Our healthcare system is broken — and many who interact with it get broken by it. 

Physicians also suffer. Over half of American doctors report symptoms of burn-out — with 10% of critical and primary care physicians reporting suicidal ideation. Canadian doctors, by contrast, report much greater career satisfaction — they can focus on patients, without insurers interfering, without costs threatening lives that doctors have saved.

Having insurers intrude into the doctor-patient relationship is harming healthcare by changing how doctors practice medicine. Here’s an ER doctor’s perspective on “Healthcare in America.”

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COMMENTARY: Medical students for single-payer health care, Danziger, Feuerbach & Sklar, Times-Union

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

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

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

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

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

By Candice Hildebrant, February 17, 2019

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

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

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

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

Angela Kelschenbach, February 18, 2019

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

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

Did you benefit? Yes. 

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

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

By Chris McKenna, Feb 16, 2019

Democratic state lawmakers have passed a stream of pent-up priorities this year since winning full control in Albany, enacting election reforms, new gun-control measures and other bills Republicans had blocked when they ruled the Senate.

But the question now is whether a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a Democratic governor will tackle the oldest and most ambitious of those once-impossible plans: a single-payer health insurance system akin to what is championed in Washington as “Medicare for all.”

The New York Health Act, first introduced in 1992 and approved by the Assembly each of the last four years, is back before the Legislature with a few additions in the version filed this month. Its mission is state-run, comprehensive coverage for every New Yorker that would eliminate private insurance and be paid for with new taxes and the public funding that New York now spends on Medicaid and Medicare.

For supporters like Star Hesse of Sullivan County, who has made annual trips to Albany to rally for the bill and believes it now stands its best chance of becoming law, the key is removing profit-minded insurance companies from the system. She argues the state could cover everyone and yet reduce total health-care spending, partly by chopping the part that now goes to company shareholders and executives.

“To them, it’s a business,” said Hesse, a Narrowsburg resident who’s active with the Campaign for New York Health advocacy group. “To other people, it’s life and death.”

She answers the charge that New York couldn’t afford single-payer health care by arguing that the current insurance system is both too expensive and inadequate.

“We can’t afford what we have now - and it’s crappy coverage!” Hesse said….

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EDITORIAL: Patience is a healthy virtue, Riverdale Press

by the Editorial Board, February 17, 2019

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

And she is absolutely right to do so.

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

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

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

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

by Silvia Blumenfeld, February 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

By Barbara Kloss, February 4, 2019

Trying Not to Die Right Now 

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

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

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

Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Judith Esterquest & Barbara Estrin, Jan 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

By Gus Rivera & Karla Lawrence, Feb 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

By Jeremy Moule, Jan 23, 2019

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

Health care

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

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

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

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

By Lanning Taliaferro, Feb 7, 2019

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

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

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