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SERIES: Healthcare in America, Miriam Helbok, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series for Bronx writers to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

By Miriam Helbok, June 11, 2018

Late in 2017 I received a letter from AARP Medicare Complete Mosaic, my medical insurer since my retirement, stating that the Montefiore Hospital Medical Center would not renew its contract with that plan in 2018. Since my excellent primary doctor of many years and others among my physicians are associated with Montefiore, I opted to join a different plan, HealthFirst, which is connected with Montefiore. As a result I lost one of the best benefits offered by the AARP plan: membership in the Silver Sneakers program, through which insured seniors can use any of thousands of Silver Sneakers-affiliated neighborhood gyms in the United States free of charge.

The physical, mental, and emotional benefits that people of all ages get from regular exercise have been demonstrated in countless scientific studies....

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PRESS RELEASE: NYC Council Speaker Johnson and Other Elected Officials Call for State Legislature and Governor to Pass Single-Payer Healthcare



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

12/6/2018

 

CONTACT:

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

Anthony Feliciano | afeliciano@cphsnyc.org | 646-325-5317



NYC Council Speaker Johnson and Other Elected Officials Call for State Legislature and Governor to Pass Single-Payer Healthcare

 

City Hall, NY —  Today New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and numerous other city and state elected officials, labor leaders, and health professionals called for the State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a bill establishing a single-payer system of guaranteed, publicly-funded healthcare for all New York State residents. The leaders spoke on City Hall steps to 150 supporters shortly before a hearing by the Council’s Health Committee, where more than 50 people testified in favor of Council Resolution 470 calling for passage of the New York Health Act (A.4738-A/S.4840-A). The bill would provide complete health coverage to all New Yorkers without deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks, or out-of-network charges. At the hearing, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) announced that he and his Senate colleague, Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) will amend the bill next month to add full coverage of long-term care for all New Yorkers who require it, regardless of income.

 

The City Hall press conference was organized by the Campaign for New York Health, a broad coalition of 150 unions, healthcare organizations, community and civic groups, and elected officials. At the hearing,

New York City residents affiliated with supportive organization delivered testimony about the systemic problems in accessing healthcare, including long-term care services. Witnesses explained how exorbitant deductibles, copays, and out-of-network charges, along with ever-increasing premiums, cause many people to delay or deny necessary medical care, often with devastating effects. Others recounted the frightening experience of being unable to afford ever-increasing insurance premiums, leading to very harmful health consequences.

 

“I understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with not having health coverage, as I lost my health care shortly after being diagnosed HIV positive. It was awful. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, which is why I support single payer health care and am a proud sponsor of this bill. I hope the state legislature will make this a priority and pass this bill,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

 

“On behalf of Mayor de Blasio, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments in support of the New York Health Act... In order to have thriving, healthy communities, every person must have access to health care...The City of New York supports the New York Health Act and we call upon the State Legislature and Governor to pass a single-payer health system in New York State.” said Oxiris Barbot, MD, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals.

 

“I saw how having long-term care for some and not having it for others had a huge impact on the quality and length of my grandparents’ lives. So I’m committed to working to see that a single payer system includes comprehensive long-term care. And I urge the City Council to include that in their support for the New York Health Act,” said State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.

 

Recent studies show that the New York Health Act can cover every New York resident, improve access to care, while spending less in total healthcare costs than the status quo. Advocates pointed out the tremendous savings in moving from the fragmented, privatized system to a streamlined publicly-financed system will alleviate the health insurance burden on local municipal budgets, as well as New York’s share of Medicaid payments, resulting in an estimated $9.4 billion – or 11% of the budget -- in savings for the city.

Recent electoral successes bolster advocates’ expectations for movement on this legislation in the coming session. A majority of the new Democratic Senate campaigned on the legislation or were cosponsors in the last session, including Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), who spoke at the hearing about her own personal healthcare challenges. Statewide support of this legislation is growing, reflected in the 17 local cities, counties, and towns across New York that have already passed resolutions in support of the New York Health Act, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Kingston, and the counties of Rockland, Sullivan, and Tompkins.

 

The bill has been endorsed by the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association, Community Health Care Association of NYS,  Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, Doctors Council SEIU, NY chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, NYS AFL-CIO, 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East, 32BJ SEIU, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and 1179, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, Community Service Society, NYPIRG, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Disabled in Action, League of Women Voters, Make the Road NY, and many more.



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The Campaign for New York Health is a 501c4 organization dedicated to passing and implementing legislation for universal single-payer healthcare in New York State. We bring together over 150 organizations representing: community groups, labor unions, seniors, people with disabilities, nurses, teachers, patients, doctors, business leaders, faith groups, immigrants, and healthcare advocates, committed to the right to healthcare. Find out more at www.nyhcampaign.org

STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 470

 

“Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of the New York Health Act and chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “No one says they disagree with that. And the New York Health Act is the only plan that achieves that goal.”

 

"The New York Health Act is currently the only proposal that would create a more accessible, equitable, and affordable healthcare system for all New Yorkers, regardless of their wealth or immigration status,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “As the bill's Senate sponsor, I would like to thank City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for introducing the resolution in support of the New York Health Act and City Council Health Committee Chairman Mark Levine for holding this important hearing to further demonstrate the critical fiscal and public health benefits associated with this bill. I am committed to continue working with Assembly Member Richard Gottfried to make the New York Health Act a reality in New York State."

 

Every New Yorker deserves access to comprehensive healthcare. That's why I'm a co-sponsor of  New York Health Act, which will improve our healthcare system, lower costs, and shift the status quo once and for all. I thank Health Committee Chair Mark Levine for convening a hearing on this vital issue and look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues in the Majority to move this bill forward,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman

 

“Healthcare is a human right, and in New York State, despite its progressive reputation, we are failing thousands of people who are left without adequate care. Our state should be leading the way in providing comprehensive and affordable coverage by passing the NY Health Act and supporting those left behind in a system built for profit, not for people,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

 

“The New York Health Act will guarantee health care for all New Yorkers – regardless of immigration status – as it should be. No person should have to refrain from going to the hospital or getting medication because they don’t have health insurance or because the fees attached to their insurance are too high. This is a basic human right. And now, with the most progressive state Senate in New York’s history, there is no excuse. We must pass the New York Health Act,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Immigration Committee Chair.

 

"Now that Democrats are in full control of Albany, it is time that we finally pass the New York Health Act and guarantee health care for every single New Yorker. With insurance and hospital costs continuing to rise and no private solution in sight, it is clear that there is no issue more pressing this year. As Chair of the Council's Committee on Hospitals, I call on the state to follow the Council's proposed resolution and seriously consider this bill,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.

 

“I saw how having long-term care for some and not having it for others had a huge impact on the quality and length of my grandparents’ lives. So I’m committed to working to see that a single payer system includes comprehensive long-term care. And I urge the City Council to include that in their support for the New York Health Act,” said State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.

 

“On behalf of Mayor de Blasio, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments in support of the New York Health Act... In order to have thriving, healthy communities, every person must have access to health care...The City of New York supports the New York Health Act and we call upon the State Legislature and Governor to pass a single-payer health system in New York State.” said Oxiris Barbot, MD, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals.



"Although our current system fails us all, the poor and communities of color suffer the most. People of color and immigrants bear the brunt of the failure of our current fragmented, privatized system. Single payer promotes equity and stands to benefit especially those who have been left out and left behind. If you see health as a human right, you should support the NY Health Act," stated Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

“A single payer system will decrease the needless administrative costs of our current system, and allow us to devote our money and our time to meeting the health needs of the more than one million New Yorkers who rely on our services every year,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals.

 

"It is no secret that nurses are passionate advocates for an improved Medicare for All system in New York State and the country to meet the moral imperative of guaranteeing high quality healthcare for all. We want to guarantee that the progress we make toward healthcare for all lifts the boats for every working person in the state and the country," stated Marva Wade, RN, Board Member of the New York State Nurses Association

 

“As physicians, we constantly see the devastating consequences for patients without health insurance. But we also witness the epidemic of under-insurance. Saddled with unaffordable deductibles and co-payments, many patients with insurance -- like the uninsured -- are forced to delay seeking care, stop their medications, and show up at emergency rooms for basic care. The New York Health Act guarantees coverage for all the uninsured and eliminates deductibles and co-payments for the insured. It protects the health of everybody in New York State.” said Oliver Fein, MD, Physicians for a National Health Program

 

A single payer healthcare system is essential for guaranteeing health care for our many patients who can’t afford it,” said Dr. Jessica Edwards, National President of the Committee of Interns and Residents, affiliated with Service Employees International Union. “In 2018, no one should have to choose between their health and putting food on the table or having a roof over their head. The New York Health Act must also protect healthcare for our own members, building on our successes through decades of collective bargaining. We appreciate the willingness of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblymember Gottfried and Senator Rivera, to ensure that union members don’t lose any of our hard-fought gains.”

 

“Racial segregation continues to exist in our healthcare system, due to lasting effects of historical precedents as well as inequities baked into healthcare financing. This segregated care and unequal funding inevitably results in disparate health outcomes. By removing the financial maldistribution in our healthcare system, the New York Health Act will be a crucial step toward health justice.” said Daniel Neghassi, MD Member of the NYSAFP Board of Directors.

 

“The RWDSU believes that healthcare is a human right, and that there’s no better way to secure that right than by universal single payer healthcare,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “We stand by the City Council’s resolution in support of the Senate and Assembly bills that would create comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers. As a union that organizes low wage workers, we know how hard it is for working people to afford health care. We need to change the broken health care system now.”

 

"A universal health care system that fully includes long-term care will be a life-changer for seniors, people with disabilities, and all New Yorkers struggling to provide care for their loved ones. As the fastest growing healthcare need, and the benefit that even New Yorkers with good coverage currently lack almost across the board, a universal long-term care benefit will strengthen an already powerful bill," said Bobbie Sackman, an advocate with the New York Caring Majority.

 

“As New York City’s leading health care provider for low-income LGBTQ communities, Callen-Lorde emphatically urges the City Council to pass Resolution 470 in support of the New York Health Act.” said Dr. Peter Meacher, Chief Medical Officer for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. “LGBTQ people are more likely to be underinsured or uninsured. This lack of coverage compounds the multiple barriers to accessing healthcare this population faces contributing to well documented disparate, poor health outcomes. Stable, adequate coverage for all New Yorkers proposed in the New York Health Act will lead to improved health outcomes and lower longterm costs for LGBTQ people and everyone with a chronic health condition while allowing for more effective, accessible, preventative healthcare and public health interventions to improve the wellbeing of the entire population. A single payer health system in New York might not solve all our problems, but will go a long way toward advancing health, economic and racial equity.”

 

“More than 400,000 New Yorkers remain uninsured because of their immigration status. The New York Health Act's universal coverage would be a vast improvement over our current discriminatory system. It is time to pass the New York Health Act and create equal coverage for all New Yorkers," said Max Hadler, Director of Health Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition.

 

"With the seemingly unending onslaught of attacks against immigrant communities, most recently with the threat of chilling changes to the public charge rule, African Services applauds the leadership and moral authority shown today by Speaker Corey Johnson with the introduction of Resolution 470. Res. 470 and the establishment of a universal single payer health system, will ensure all New Yorkers — regardless of immigration status —access to the basic human right of quality healthcare", said Amanda Lugg, Director of Advocacy at African Services Committee.    

 

“Nearly half of Asian American New Yorkers lack the basic income to make ends meet, and 1 in 5 Asian New Yorkers do not health insurance. Even our community members that do have health insurance struggle to afford needed medical care," said Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council. "In today’s climate, many immigrants are shying away from health insurance for fear it will hurt their immigration status. Passing the New York Health Act is one of the most powerful things that New York State can do to protect immigrant New Yorkers."

 

“I believe strongly that creating conditions for health wellbeing require many solutions. Single payer legislation in New York State would provide an important step to improve access to comprehensive care regardless of income, pre-existing conditions or ability to pay — an extremely important achievement that would benefit many,” says Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System. “As a Medicare for All advocate I know insurance alone does not solve the serious, persistent and growing health equity problems we have with health outcomes in NYC. But we can not continue to have a health care system that is about profits and not people”.

 

“We see this resolution as a critical statement on the importance of universal, affordable, and accessible health care for all New Yorkers,” said Emily Miles, Chief Program and Policy Officer at FPWA. “Healthcare is one of the top challenges to achieving economic equity and the New York Health Act would not only improve universal comprehensive health coverage for every New Yorker but could potentially save billions. The time to act is now to ensure that all New Yorkers can access quality, affordable care.”

 

“The APA community continues to have the highest linguistic isolation and poverty rates in New York,” say Vanessa Leung and Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Directors of Coalition for Asian American Children & Families, “Due to language and cultural barriers, complications with or lack of immigration status, and the stigma of using public benefits, health coverage is an especially challenging issue for APAs.  The New York Health Act will provide universal health coverage, removing barriers to accessing care and providing residents with more quality and comprehensive benefits.”

 

"I am the mother of a nine-year-old boy who desperately needs New York State to pass the New York Health Act. Seven years ago, my perfectly healthy and typically developing almost-three-year-old son woke up having a seizure. He was admitted to our neighborhood hospital where over the next week and a half we watched him lose his ability to walk, talk, swallow, focus his eyes, and reliably breathe. He was eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune encephalitis. About two months into what turned out to be a fifteen-month hospitalization, I started receiving calls from the billing office for all of the doctors practicing at the hospital, to ask why I kept choosing out-of-network providers. I was informed that while the hospital had a contract with our insurance, the doctors did not. In truth, I did not have a single choice of provider while my son was in-patient and seen by whomever happened to be on service. Our lives since the onset of his illness have been a maddening maze of healthcare bureaucracies. Like many diseases, our son’s unpredictable illness could happen to anyone, at any time. My son, my husband and I are counting on our elected officials, both here and in Albany, to harness the political will to finally pass the New York Health Act,” said Sandra Stein, New Yorker and Mother.

 

“I am a native New Yorker who owns her own small business that is too small to have a health insurance plan but pays more taxes than some major corporations. My company spends around seven figures a year in my beloved city and as a "freelancer" I can no longer get a PPO or even a good health insurance plan. I can't even get close to the quality of health insurance my elected officials get. I am one of over four million freelancers in New York who are falling through the cracks,” said small business owner Dana Offenbach, Owner of CinemaStreet Pictures, LLC.

 

"New York's seniors are facing the most extreme financial insecurity in decades with healthcare costs consuming upwards of 20 percent of their incomes. Furthermore, those who need long-term care services must first impoverish themselves in order to be eligible for Medicaid. We know there is a better way: an improved "Medicare for All" system. Statewide Senior Action Council applauds the Assembly for passing the NY Health Act, reaffirming their support for a healthcare system that is truly affordable and meets the needs of New York's seniors," said Maria Alvarez, Executive Director, New York Statewide Senior Action Council.

 

“Disabled In Action of Metropolitan NY believes there is a great need for the NY Health Act and we would like to see it include support for long-term care so people with disabilities can get needed care and live up to our potential,” said Jean Ryan of Disabled In Action.

 

“Each year I see more medical students joining the fight for single payer healthcare,” said Alec Feuerbach, coordinator of the nine medical school chapters of Students for a National Health Program in the Metro New York area. “I believe the reason for this is simple. We are in medical school because we want to help people, but every day we see patients facing an impossible dilemma: go without needed care, or go bankrupt trying to pay for it. The New York Health Act would allow us to return to our core purpose of becoming healers.”

 

“The Academy of Medical & Public Health Services is a public health not-for-profit providing health access and care coordination services for immigrants who are ineligible for health insurance in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Far too often, our community members forgo critical care due to the lack of health coverage -- even when it means suffering from the pain of a fractured molar for years that in turn affects their ability to maintain a healthy diet and leading to a number of other health issues like anemia, osteoporosis, and diabetes; or even if it means living with high blood pressure without the necessary medications, placing them at the risk of experiencing eventual heart failure. Healthcare is not a privilege, but a basic human right.” said Mon Yuck Yu, MPA, Executive Vice President & Chief of Staff.

 

“Within New York City, the Bronx has the largest percentage of adults without health insurance (22%) and the largest percentage of adults going without needed medical care (12%),” said Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director for Bronx Health REACH at the Institute for Family Health. “The New York Health Act would remove one of the biggest barriers to healthcare access, enabling more Bronx residents to live healthier, longer lives."



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LETTER: Rebutting the myths about single payer health care, Edward F. McKee, Buffalo News

By Edward F. McKee, October 31, 2018

The recent letter to this column written by Alfred J. Wright, government affairs manager for HealthNow New York Inc., concerning the catastrophic economic and health care consequences to New York residents and to the entire nation should either go to a single payer health plan does not deserve to go unanswered before Election Day.

First, to put things in perspective a little about HealthNow New York Inc. and who they really represent: BlueCross Blue Shield is a division of HealthNow NY, which is a subsidiary of Health Now Systems Inc., a privately held company. Who do you think privately held conglomerates such as this one really represent and what do they stand to lose should we citizens inside of New York and beyond ever obtain a health care system that works for everyone and can be made affordable? Relying on industry spin doctors such as Wright is not the solution to our health care woes.

I would like to rebut two of the major reasons cited for why a single payer plan will not work:

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LETTER: He won a Nobel Prize, but couldn't afford health care, David Knapp, Riverdale Press

By DAVID KNAPP, October 28,  2018

Raised in the Bronx and a graduate of James Monroe High School,  Nobel Prize winner Leon Lederman died peacefully at 96 in an Idaho care home earlier this month of complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

With two other American physicists, Lederman received the prize for uncovering new particles that enhanced our understanding of the fundamental universe.

All the obituaries worldwide heralded Lederman as breaking ground for further discoveries, but also as a scientist who made the often obscure world of physics clear to the general public. But every newspaper — in the United States and abroad — noted that his family sold his prize medal (auctioned it on the internet for $765,000) to pay for his mounting medical bills, and for the cost of a nursing home in Idaho near the town where he and his wife were living when he retired.

So there are two stories here...

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #19, Elizabeth Kelly, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Elizabeth Kelly, October 29, 2018

Profits Before Patients?  

What I learned from reading the Healthcare series in thisistheBronX

You may think Big Pharma profits don’t affect you but, in truth, we are all are paying bruising amounts — in taxes, in public health metrics, in harm to our democratic institutions — so that our largest pharmaceutical companies can pocket profit margins THREE TIMES LARGER than other Fortune 500 companies. And what do all these statistics have to do with the stories in This is the Bronx?

Big Pharma makes record-setting profits even after subtracting massive sums for marketing, hundreds of millions in executive compensation, tens of billions on stock buybacks to make investors richer and, of course, more hundreds of millions on campaign donations and lobbying than any other sector.

How can this be? Let’s begin with just one very public example that put a spotlight on why I support NY Health (“Improved Medicare for All New Yorkers”), a state bill that will bring affordable universal healthcare coverage, and rein in Big Pharma — much as every other developed country has, just as our own Veteran’s Administration has.

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LETTER: Kingston endorsement of NY Health Act a bright spot, Paul R. Cooper, Daily Freeman

by Paul R. Cooper, Oct 13, 2018

The Kingston Common Council's recent endorsement of the New York Health Act is a well-needed bright spot in our darkening horizon. This act — passed four years in a row by our state Assembly — and shot down, as many times, by the Republicans in our state Senate — would guarantee health care for every New Yorker, regardless of income.

There would be no pre-existing conditions, no co-pays, and no deductibles.

And, remarkably, as attested by the Rand Corporation, the total health care expenditure would be less. More healthcare for less money — who doesn’t like the sound of that?

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New Document: Myths and Facts on the New York Health Act

 

Download the new fact sheet here.

Myth_Fact_v2.jpeg

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act will end Medicare as we know it.

FACT: The NY Health Act will greatly improve benefits for Medicare beneficiaries by covering vision, dental, hearing, and long-term care, while lowering cost by getting rid of copays, deductibles, and cost-sharing. You will have free choice of doctors, hospitals and other providers. The NY Health Act will not reduce any benefit or right currently available through Medicare, but it will strengthen access to care for Medicare beneficiaries, and guarantee health care for the rest of us, too.

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act will quadruple your taxes.

FACT: Studies show that 90% or more of New Yorkers will actually pay less in NY Health taxes than they do now for premiums, deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs for health care and prescription drugs.

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act will cause large job losses.

FACT: The savings from NY Health will put money back in people’s pockets including employers and actually create 200,000 new jobs. People in jobs that are no longer needed in health plan and health care provider administration will take new jobs, aided by NY Health funds that can pay for re-training and transitioning, in a healthier NY economy stimulated by the savings of NY Health.

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act is bad for business.

FACT: Today, businesses are burdened by rising health care costs and health insurance paperwork. Many small businesses can’t provide insurance because of its cost, and lose good employees to jobs that have health benefits. The NY Health Act is simple with predictable costs, necessary for businesses to thrive and for workers to stay healthy.

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act can’t work if we don’t get federal waivers for Medicare and Medicaid.

FACT: Even without federal waivers, New York can incorporate Medicaid, wrap around Medicare, and provide truly universal health care to all residents of New York at less cost than now. Federal waivers would help the system run more smoothly – for us and for the federal government – but they are not necessary for the system to work.

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act will cut payments to doctors and hospitals.

FACT: There are sufficient savings in NY Health that provider reimbursement rates can be raised so that they can actually see greater take-home pay. A majority of doctors now favor a plan like NY Health because they are so frustrated with the current system. It will statutorily guarantee reasonable and adequate payment rates, and save providers billions in reduced administrative costs.

 

MYTH: The NY Health Act is government-run health care.

FACT: With NY Health, you and the health care providers you choose are responsible for your health care. NY Health just pays the bill. Medicare – an enormously popular program – is not “government run health care,” and neither is NY Health. But today, insurance companies largely run our health care – for their benefit.

 

MYTH: Employer-provided insurance is better than the NY Health Act.

FACT: The benefits of the NY Health Act are more generous and more certain than any private or public plan that currently exists. People who currently receive health insurance from their employer will have the peace of mind knowing that high quality, affordable health care will be there for them whether they have a job, move to a new job, or lose their job. Today, every year more money goes to skyrocketing costs of health insurance – a burden on employers, employees, and unions. With NY Health, almost all of us will keep more money in every paycheck and get better access to health care.

 

MYTH: Why don’t we just cover the 5% of people who are currently uninsured?

FACT: While covering everyone is a major goal of the NY Health Act, just extending coverage to the uninsured does nothing for the ten times or more New Yorkers who struggle with premiums, deductibles, copays, out-of-network charges and unjustified denials of care. With NY Health, everyone is covered with high quality affordable health care, ending underinsurance for good.

 

MYTH: Government programs aren’t very good. This will be second-class care.

FACT: What’s not good is getting health coverage from companies that make money by getting in the way of the health care your doctor should be providing. The NY Health Act has statutory guarantees of comprehensive benefits, complete choice of providers, no out-of-pocket charges, and reasonable and adequate payment to providers. People with wealth and influence – including every legislator and the governor – will be in the same plan as the rest of us. They will make sure that their coverage is as good as can be, and the rest of us – and our doctors and hospitals – will be in the same plan with them.

 

MYTH: We shouldn’t force everyone into this plan. We can just offer a public option.

FACT: Having everyone in the same plan is crucial to making sure we all have the best possible coverage and care. Keeping most of us in insurance company coverage, and adding an extra “public option” plan, guarantees that the billions of waste, unfair charges and unjustified denials of care in the current system continue. If the “public option” plan offers better access to care, then it will attract a disproportionate share of people who need a higher-than-average amount of care, and the plan will face higher and higher costs and fail. If it isn’t better, what’s the point – other than being a distraction from the sensible NY Health Act.

 

For more information, visit www.nyhcampaign.org/learn or email info@nyhcampaign.org

 

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OPINION: New York! Save your Wallet from the Healthcare Mob!, Holly Lynch, City and State

Holly Lynch, Oct 11, 2018

As I was rushed to NYU Medical Center on May 13th 2014, the worst news was not that I had an incurable grapefruit-sized cancer in my head, but that Oxford had canceled my insurance. That happened again in 2016. And with that, I was labeled not only “high-risk” but a “pre-existing condition” twice-over.  I had to laugh, twice. 

Here’s the problem: Being human is a pre-existing condition. We will ALL get sick, many of us, VERY sick. And who banks on that? Health insurers. Much like the mob, their monthly “protection” is limited and expensive and doubles-down the sicker we get, (read: the more we need it, the less we have it). We pay the premiums, but in our darkest hour, are punished for terminal illness. Insurers are truly sick.

Conservatives refer to Medicare and Medicaid as “entitlements”, as if healthcare were a charitable gift. But Congress declared healthcare a right in 1986when it passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), an unfunded mandate signed by Reagan ensuring EVERYONE, regardless of income, status or citizenship, received care at federally funded hospitals (nearly all of them). See? We already pay the bill. So why not pay a smarter, more fiscally sound bill that actually covers our pre-existing human condition, and that of our aging loved-ones? 

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COMMENTARY: N.Y. can take lead in Medicare for All to ensure better future, Marva Wade, Times-Union

By Marva Wade, October 10, 2018

Poll after poll shows that health care is a top voter concern this year.

No wonder. Health insurance premiums go up and up — 15 percent in New York state in 2017 — and close to a third of Americans with insurance report they cannot afford to see doctors and buy prescriptions.

With big premiums, deductibles and co-pays, private health insurance costs are burying American families. Virtually no one is without a story of a severe financial hardship when seeking care. In fact, the number one source of personal bankruptcy is health care — even for those who are privately insured.

When you add it all up — insurance premiums and deductibles, profits and outrageous administrative costs — and contrast that sum to projected taxes to fund a Medicare for All — aka single payer — system, the taxes are less. With Medicare for All, 90 percent of New Yorkers will pay less than they currently do for care. Unlike the current system, access is based upon need, not how much money is in your bank account.

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ARTICLE: Kingston lawmakers support proposed New York Health Act, Kingston Daily Freeman

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LETTER: Attack ads on single-payer health care are confusing, Earl Callahan, Oneonta Star

Earl Callahan, New Berlin, Oct 9, 2018

As I watch the attack ads on television for those running to represent me in Washington I am equally amused and confused.

In the 22nd Congressional District of New York, the attack ad that makes my head start spinning is the one where the incumbent Claudia Tenney attacks her opposition Anthony Brindisi for his support of a single-payer health plan — Medicare for all. Now why would she launch an attack on a program that populations in the rest of the industrialized world enjoy as their birthright?

The answer to that is that she must relish the suffering of those who are one serious illness away for the poor house....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #18, Karen Thomas, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Karen Thomas, September 23, 2018

Part I: Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident

Friends, my healthcare story began at work. A perfect storm of events led to a workplace injury that should never have happened. I was an administrative clerk for a kitchen that served about 1500 meals a day, but on October 15th of 1990, the baker did not come to work. And the inventory clerk for the meat department called in sick.

Knowing that I’d previously worked as a baker, my boss asked me to make bread pudding for the day’s dessert. He asked John, without relevant experience, to step in as inventory clerk for meat. As we all know, in the high stress environments of large-scale kitchens, no Boss accepts “No.”

The freezers were located adjacent to the ovens, a seriously inconvenient architectural design. John, who had a poor attitude that day, first stacked the meat on pallets without criss-crossing it — done to form an interlocking knot on the stacking pallets and necessary to balance the weight evenly toward the middle of the pallet — then left pallets crowding the baking ovens. Finally, he removed the jack (the tool for moving pallets), took the jack outside, and locked the door behind him.

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LETTER: Stop stalling on single-payer, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

Barbara Estrin, October 7, 2018

“Unethical.” “Politically wrong, morally wrong.”

That is how Ban Ki-moon, former secretary general to the United Nations, described U.S. health care in a Guardian interview on Sept. 25. For the same of Americans, Mr. Ban hopes “either California or New York … will introduce (a single-payer) system.”

On the same day, NPR’s Brian Lehrer featured a debate on the New York Health Act between Hudson Valley senate candidate Pete Harckham and Chris Pope, a fellow at the Mercer Koch-sponsored Manhattan Institute.

Mr. Ban focuses on universal human needs. The New Yorkers focused on economics. The Guardian interview illustrates a hard-to-face truth: The foreign press — scandalized by both the expense and the inhumanity of current U.S. health care — wonders at delays in passing legislation that would bring universal, comprehensive, affordable health care to every New Yorker.

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LETTER: Vote for the Democrats in state Senate races, Sarah Outterson-Murphy, Oneonta Star

By Sarah Outterson-Murphy, Marinemec, Oct 5, 2018

If you’re concerned about health care, voting rights, clean energy jobs and ethics reform in Albany, then you probably know that our state Senate’s Republican majority has blocked bills that would move us forward on all of these issues.

For example, the New York Health Act, which almost passed last year, would provide guaranteed health care for all New Yorkers. This bill would eliminate co-pays, deductibles and premium payments for health care, giving all New Yorkers access to the care we need. Small businesses and workers would no longer have to worry about health insurance, spurring economic growth and reducing turnover. But last year, even though the New York Health Act needed just one more co-sponsor for a majority, the Senate never allowed the bill to come to a vote.

Why? It’s simple: too many in Albany get huge donations from the health insurance industry, and are content to represent those corporate donors in Albany, not ordinary citizens back home. In particular, Jim Seward, chair of the insurance committee, spends much of his time finding new tax credits for insurers — in return for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he receives in donations from insurance interests. That’s not how I want my state legislature to work.

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Article: 2019 May Be the Year Single-Payer Health Care Passes in NY, Rewire News

Sep 27, 2018   Auditi Guha

“People want to see their ability to access health care not be tied to employment, or income level, or health status, or even immigration status or marital status."

Five New Yorkers die every day due to lack of health coverage, according to the Campaign for New York Health. More than a million New Yorkers lack health insurance, and millions more have plans that would bankrupt them in a medical emergency.

Enter single-payer health care, which would provide comprehensive health coverage for every one of New York’s 19.8 million residents.

... Studies have found that the NYHA would ensure “a system that covers everybody, offers better care, is less expensive as time goes on, but also one that has a more equitable distribution of funding,” Rivera said.

... People want to pay less for health care, he said. The issue is not where people send their checks but the fact that it will be a smaller bill.

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ARTICLE: Ex-UN chief Ban Ki-moon says US healthcare system is "morally wrong," The Guardian

By Jessica Glenza, Sept 25, 2018
... Ban said he hopes states, including California and New York, will pass universal health coverage and spark a national call for public financing of health.

“It will be either California or New York who will introduce this system,” said Ban. “Then I think there will be many more states who will try to follow suit. I think that’s an encouraging phenomenon we see.” 

... Ban blamed the “sectoral interests” of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctors, “which inhibit the American government” for hindering moves towards a universal health coverage plan.

“Here, the political interest groups are so, so powerful,” Ban said. “Even president, Congress, senators and representatives of the House, they cannot do much so they are easily influenced by these special interest groups.”

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VIEW: “Medicare for All” would boost health quality and affordability for all NYers, Zevon, LoHud

By Madeline Zevon, Oct 2, 2018

Study after study, including a recent RAND Corporation analysis, affirms that the New York Health Act (“Medicare for All New York”) would cost less than our current health care. The highly regarded, centrist, independent, nonprofit confirmed that NY Health would reduce total health-care costs — despite increasing spending on actual health care — by decreasing spending on administrative waste and insurance company profits.  

Specifically, RAND concludes that NY Health will provide all essential health care to every New Yorker; save substantial money for 19 million of us; create 180,000 new jobs, increasing employment by 2 percent; eliminate county Medicaid contributions and make New York businesses more competitive. Little reported, but important to millions of New Yorkers, NY Health will also fully cover long-term care, and still save money.

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VIEW: “Medicare for All” would boost health quality and affordability for all NYers, Zevon, LoHud

By Madeline Zevon, Oct 2, 2018

Study after study, including a recent RAND Corporation analysis, affirms that the New York Health Act (“Medicare for All New York”) would cost less than our current health care. The highly regarded, centrist, independent, nonprofit confirmed that NY Health would reduce total health-care costs — despite increasing spending on actual health care — by decreasing spending on administrative waste and insurance company profits.  

Specifically, RAND concludes that NY Health will provide all essential health care to every New Yorker; save substantial money for 19 million of us; create 180,000 new jobs, increasing employment by 2 percent; eliminate county Medicaid contributions and make New York businesses more competitive. Little reported, but important to millions of New Yorkers, NY Health will also fully cover long-term care, and still save money.

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Letter: Mannion right about health care, Dr. Sunny Aslam, Auburn Citizen

Dr. Sunny Aslam,  Jamesville, Sep 16, 2018

I am supporting John Mannion for New York state Senate because he will be a champion for the New York Health Act which will be life-saving for my patients and businesses. Health costs are crushing businesses, which spend $2 billion each year simply selecting health care plans for employees (www.infoshare.org/main/Economic_Analysis_New_York_Health_Act_-_GFriedman_-_April_2015.pdf).

John's opponent has no health care plan except the wonders of the marketplace. This has never worked for health care. The most efficient form of health care financing is traditional Medicare's 2-percent administrative costs as reported by the Medicare trustees every year in both Republican and Democrat administrations.

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LETTER: Martz's healthcare support is needed for our future, Dr. Wendy Aronson Glen Falls Post-Star

By Wendy Aronson, M.D., Lake Luzerne,   Oct 4, 2018

The cost of health services incurred by 45 million uninsured Americans is estimated to be $99 billion. Who pays when someone with no insurance visits an emergency room needing the legally mandated “stabilization,” if not immediate admission? The answers include:

  1. The uninsured patient, spending a larger fraction of his income than his insured neighbor.
  2. Hospitals and doctors, providing care gratis or for reduced fees.
  3. Charities, whose funding comes ultimately from the public.
  4. Local and federal taxes collected from that same public.

This brings us to the question of single payer health care and the proposed New York Health Act already passed several times by the Assembly. While its Senate passage and implementation would certainly raise payroll and employer-paid taxes, perhaps by 150 percent (RAND,) the total New York expenditure on health care would not increase. New Yorkers would shift only where and how they pay. Millions of us would reap medical security.

Betty Little has been a state Senator for 15 years. As a North Country person, she knows that 12 percent of Warren County lives below the poverty line and 5 percent is uninsured. Nonetheless, she votes to keep the act locked in committee.

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ARTICLE: Kingston council considers support for NY Health Act, Kingston Freeman

By Ariél Zangla azangla@freemanonline.com @arielatfreeman on TwitterSep 28, 2018

 

KINGSTON, N.Y. — City lawmakers are considering a memorializing resolution that would call on the state Legislature to adopt, and the governor to sign, the proposed New York Health Act.

The act would create a single-payer health care system for all New York residents. 

"It would be an immense step to help New Yorkers throughout the state, but also definitely here in Kingston, to get health care," Common Council Majority Leader Reynolds Scott-Childress told the council's Public Safety/General Government Committee on Wednesday. "It's a step toward universal health care." 

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LETTER: Support candidates who support NY Health Act, Laura McClure, Oneonta Daily Star

By Laura McClure, Oct 2, 2018

Americans are fed up with our health care system. In August, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found that 70 percent of us — including most Republicans — want Medicare for All, a universal public insurance system that is both cheaper and more effective than our current private hodgepodge.

Unfortunately, our major political parties are lagging behind the public on this, at least nationally.

But in New York state, we are on the brink of change. Last year, the New York Health Act — which would create a public insurance system covering all New Yorkers — was ONE VOTE short of passing the state Senate, and passed easily in the Assembly.

Our State Sen. James Seward not only opposes the NY Health Act, he’s an active obstacle to it as chair of the Assembly’s Insurance Committee.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #17, Susanna Beh, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Susanna Behr,  September 30, 2018

Health Insurance: My Catch 22.

For many people, health insurance is the catch-22 made popular in Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel. If you are healthy and have insurance with a high deductible (even apart from co-pays), you wind up paying a lot for no benefit. If, however, you develop a serious illness, you pay far more — both the premiums and the full deductible before getting any benefit — and, even then, you will still pay many costs.

Here’s the catch: if you get better, you might lose your job. Your illness will raise the group rate of your employer (in order for the insurer can recoup the “medical loss”) — so your illness will make you very expensive for your employer. Then you might have trouble finding another job. Although it’s illegal to discriminate based on medical conditions, it’s usually hard to prove that that’s why you’re getting rejected from jobs you can do.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #16, Miriam L. Helbok, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Miriam Levine Helbok, September 16, 2018

I witnessed first-hand the last years of an aunt’s life in an excellent nursing home in the Bronx and the last years of my mother’s life with 24/7 care at home, also in the Bronx. During the last decade I have been paying upwards of $5,000 annually for long-term-care insurance for myself. What I saw and have experienced have convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt of the vital necessity for implementing a single-payer government-run system of health insurance in New York State as well as the nation as a whole.

My aunt entered what is now known as the Methodist Home for Nursing and Rehabilitation in the late 1990s, when she was in her late 80s. At that time, as I recall, the monthly fee was between $6,000 and $7,000. When my aunt’s $100,000 in savings were used up, Medicaid paid for her stay in the home. She had her own room, as did all the other residents, and got excellent care until her death, in her late 90s. I imagine that by that time, the monthly fee was even higher.

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Kingston Common Council supports New York Health Act

KINGSTON – The City of Kingston Common Council unanimously adopted a memorializing resolution Tuesday evening to support the New York State Legislature’s approval, and the governor’s signing, of the New York Health Act.

The New York Health Act would support the under-insured, or uninsured, residents of the state, giving them an out to having to deal with the astronomical costs incurred by care provided without insurance. The legislation would also keep residents with pre-existing conditions from being put into high-risk pools.

Jess Robie, a registered nurse and member of campaign for New York Health, was among several people who attended the council session to show their support for the resolution.

“I feel so hopeful,” said Robie. “On many levels, it’s amazing to see a community come together, be respectful, speak politely to each other and voice their opinions, and then to hear the aldermen speak with such compassion and care and integrity about their community is really hopeful,”

 

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #15, Judith Lieben, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

By Judith Lieben, Sept 9, 2018

Michael’s Nightmares and Insurance Hassles

My husband died after a lingering illness and he regularly had nightmares that his medical care would leave me bankrupt, without a house, food, or safety. These nightmares were so life-like that he would lie awake with his heart racing and sweating, causing medical people to come running (because of the monitors) and I was the only one who could bring him back to waking reality: “Are you sure all this is covered? Have you talked with the insurer? Are you sure? I want you safe. I can’t have all this treatment if you won’t be safe.”

When fully awake, Michael knew he was lucky. His job brought him “Cadillac insurance.” Almost everything was covered — although not for “free.” Regularly over the course of about 5 years, we would get billed for thousands of dollars. I’d pick up the phone, because he was often too sick to deal with details like this — sick people shouldn’t have to argue to get the benefits they’ve paid for. 

Continue reading here: http://www.thisisthebronx.info/weekday-magazine-healthcare-in-america-an-ongoing-series-15/

 

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SERIES: Healthcare in America, Alessandra Biaggi, This Is the Bronx

by Alessandra Biaggi, Sept 2, 2018

I’m Alessandra Biaggi and I support universal healthcare in New York State as well as the NY Health Act. I’m sending my story to thisistheBronXbecause my family is typical of many of the people in district 34 whose vote I seek.

I have many healthcare stories but the one I want to share with you today is about my father who has Parkinson’s disease.

In 2012 my Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and so, from that point forward, the number of pills that he’s had to take has increased and decreased depending upon how well he’s doing each month. My dad is on my mom’s health insurance plan. My mom’s health insurance, which is actually through a public hospital, does not have a rider because it’s very expensive to add prescription drugs.

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EDITORIAL: Market does not work to control drug prices, Middletown Times-Herald

September 13, 2018

Shop for a new car or snow blower and you can compare prices with a few clicks. But try shopping for the medications that keep you alive and the process is not so easy. In fact, it can be downright deadly.

That’s the only conclusion from the latest depressing news courtesy of the New York Public Interest Research Group into the widely varying prices of prescription drugs in the state and the difficulty people have in navigating their way through a confusing landscape….

But the real solution that would help all New Yorkers, especially those without health insurance, requires thinking bigger. There are legitimate proposals in the state Legislature for a single-payer system of health care in New York, one that would provide universal coverage at lower overall costs.

As candidates ask for your votes this fall, ask them what they are planning to do about this important issue should they get elected.

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LETTER: New York Health Act an effort to save lives, The Rev. Andrea Abbott, Watertown Daily Times

by The Rev. Andrea Abbott, Sept 8, 2018

With the huge profits the system generates for a small group of people, it’s not surprising some want to maintain the status quo. But doctors and hospitals know better: Richard Duvall, CEO of non-profit Carthage Hospital, says, “Everyone recognizes the current system isn’t working.”

As minister to a rural, upstate congregation, too often I see medical crises harm families. Many of my parishioners cannot find work that gives them insurance, instead balancing multiple part-time jobs or independent contracting — working hard, but constantly worried that an expensive illness or accident will topple them into homelessness.

Refusing to propel their family into financial ruin, one parishioner planned suicide. We found help, but I remain haunted by the specter of uncounted others who act before voicing their financial and moral despair.

Any society that rations health care based on income, monetizes life and death, is morally destitute and diminishes us all.

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LETTER: Misconceptions about single-payer healthcare, Eve Madalengoitia, Poughkeepsie Record

By Eve Madalengoitia, Sept 7, 2018

Contrary to what Helmut M. Gartner states in his letter "Single-payer health care system is not the answer"of Aug 30, healthcare did not become expensive because of the federal government. Healthcare is expensive because insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Approximately 30 percent of the money we pay insurance companies is not spent on services for our health – it is spent on high administrative costs and multi-million dollar salaries for the CEO’s 

Further, Mr. Gartner expresses an inaccuracy in stating that the government will take over the entire American health care system, equating single-payer and socialized medicine. Single-payer is when there is one payer for services....

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