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

By Jimmy Vielkind, May 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

By Liz Young, May 14, 2019

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

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

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

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AUDIO NEWS: Single Payer Hearing, Media Sanctuary on SoundCloud

May 29, 2019

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

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

May 28, 2019 · by Karen DeWitt  From WXXI

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

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

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

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

By Bethany Bump, May 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submitted testimony attached as 80+ pdfs

Watch Video and Download Offered Testimony

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ARTICLE: All for One, One for All, Matt Butler, Ithaca Times

By Matt Butler ,  May 23, 2019

Correction: In the print version of this article, it was stated that Judith Jones claimed Tompkins County could save $9.6 million per month under a statewide universal healthcare plan. This should have said $9.6 million per year. Our apologies.

Although the debate over universal healthcare has ebbed and flowed at the national level for decades, over the last several years it has grabbed a more prominent place on the national stage. That’s come about after a mix of fear-mongering over the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare), the backlash to Obamacare’s launch and its subsequent fluctuating popularity, and more liberal candidates embracing the healthcare-for-all mantra.

As most national issues usually do, the debate eventually reached local politics, with the inflection point coming last fall when many Democrats in congressional elections across the country used universal healthcare as a primary plank during campaigns. That included New York State, where the State Senate flipped to Democrats and reinvigorated the push for the New York Health Act, which would implement a statewide single-payer healthcare system in New York….

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AUDIO NEWS: Both sides discuss single payer healthcare in New York, WXXI Rochester Public Radio

By Evan Dawson& Megan MackMay 24, 2019

The New York State Legislature will hold hearings on single payer healthcare next week. Advocates say that it’s up to states to pass single payer, with the federal government aligned against it. Opponents argue that it will be a massive hit to the business community in particular.

Our guests debate the merits of single payer and the New York Health Act:

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #41, Marc Lavietes, MD, This Is the Bronx

by Dr. Marc Lavietes,  May 20, 2019

Life-enhancing Medical Devices

When my patient, Mr. B.W., told me his breathing-assistance machine had failed, you might (rationally) assume that replacing the life-enhancing medical device he’d been prescribed five years ago would be straightforward: it’s just a replacement machine, after all. You’d be wrong: the process of getting him a working machine has been fraught with multiple, almost insurmountable administrative obstacles. After six months, he still does not have it. This is his story — and the story of so many others.

Mr. B.W’s situation is hardly unique. I find myself spending as much time navigating an unrelenting and confounding insurance-payments maze to get my patients the treatments I prescribe as I spend with patients. Unlike patients with other chronic disorders, the patients I see rely on medical devices—necessary for them to live normal lives. But these devices are often not on the formulary of insurance policies, so I spend hours of every workday explaining medical necessity to insurance employees, most with no medical training, many who have their pay tied to their denying benefits.

For my entire professional career, I have been on the faculty in the pulmonary/critical care division, located in an area similar to the South Bronx, where asthma rates caused by pollution are among the highest in the nation….

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ARTICLE: Citizens' group presents forum on universal health care, Finger Lakes Times

May 17, 2019

This current legislation would provide universal health care coverage for all NY state residents based upon ability to pay. If enacted, this “Medicare for All” type coverage would affect all NY state residents. Her presentation includes explanations of what the NY Health Care Act is and is not, the extent of coverage, and how the cost would impact all residents in the state. It is important for all state residents to become familiar with this legislation which has passed the Assembly the last four years with a 2 to 1 margin for the past two years.

In 2018 nearly 50 percent of the state’s Senators endorsed the bill, only needing one more vote to come out of the Health Committee and go to a floor vote. With Senate passage, the bill would then go to the Governor’s desk for signing....

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LETTER: Health care for all would cut costs, George Simonson, Portland Press Herald

By George Simonson, May 16, 2019

Workers currently spend close to 40% of their incomes on health care in return for relatively poor outcomes.

A Maine legislative committee recently began considering eight innovative bills aiming at health care for all.

As a longtime Mainer originally from Connecticut and New York City, with family in Germany and clients around the world, I’ve given a lot of thought to how “people from away” take care of themselves. They do a better job than we do.

It’s about time for Maine – and America – finally to start giving serious thought to universal health care.

Some conservatives like to say, “Oh, we can’t have that. It’s too expensive, and nobody wants to pay high taxes like the Europeans do.” But in reality, the vast majority of Maine employees already have private health insurance premiums automatically deducted from their paychecks….

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #40, Barbara Baskind, This Is the Bronx

by Barbara Baskind,  May 13, 2019

Unsettling: Losing Your Health And Your Insurance

What happens when you are comfortably settled in the best possible situation for your illness and find out that your employer-based insurance suddenly stops covering you? What happens when you are told—after the fact—that the course of treatment prescribed for you will end in a matter of days? That’s my story. Let me begin at the beginning: a story that opens in a series of happy mid-life events. 

My friends always said I was the one who had it all. I was happily married to Jerry, the love of my life….

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #39, Daniel Lugassy, MD, This Is the Bronx

by Daniel Lugassy, MD, May 4, 2019

BOUNCE-BACKS: AVOIDABLE CATASTROPHES

Take two of these, and call me in the morning. But only if you can afford them.

I am an Emergency Medicine doctor. I care for anything and everything that’s ailing you; from a life-threatening chest stabbing to a nasty tiny splinter on the bottom of your foot. It may surprise you, but I find treating these conditions equally exhilarating. I love diagnosing and treating patients who often struggle to describe the unexpected or sudden. Nobody makes an appointment to come to the Emergency Department (ED). We are here 24/7/365, whenever you need us.

When someone returns we often call this a “bounce-back”; it triggers us to dig deeper and ask; did we miss something or did a complication of the initial presenting condition develop. But, frustratingly and all too often, the reason for the patient “bouncing back” with an emergent condition seem to be completely preventable. Most of my patients are covered by some form of healthcare insurance. Sometimes I see them return to the ED because, as “good” as they believed their insurance to be, it wasn’t good enough. Here are three stories describing patients whose lives were endangered because financial obstacles prevented their getting prescribed care…

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #38, Julie Quest, This Is the Bronx

by Julie Quest, April 29, 2019

Profits And Patient Crises

As readers who have been following our healthcare stories might notice, there is a gap in our current system for patients with private insurance, and most others. When medications prescribed by doctors are not on the insurance “formulary,” patients must pay “out of pocket.” Recent studies report 73% of insured patients cut back on food or needed household items to pay for prescribed healthcare, almost half of insured patients have trouble paying out-of-pocket costs, and a quarter skip prescriptions because of cost.

Let us be clear: these are needed medications for acute or chronic conditions. When patients cannot afford them and don’t take them, many end up in a medical emergency, sometimes so dire their lives are threatened — as described in earlier stories, and in next week’s story, which focuses on the extortionate costs of generic drugs described below: patients with controllable ailments “bounced back” into emergency surgery and the ICU.

AREN’T PRESCRIPTION DRUGS SUBJECT TO MARKET FORCES?

Healthcare is often mistakenly described as a “market,” where industry profits and patient needs can co-exist — like markets for automobiles or cell phones — where competition between providers will lower costs and improve quality. But markets only operate this way when they are “efficient,” meaning that accurate, credible, reliable information about products and warranties exists. Healthcare, by its nature, isn’t like this. …

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RADIO: Capital Pressroom The NY Health Act, Tim Williams, WCNY

Interview by Tim Williams, with Dr. Roona Ray and Mahima Iyengar, May 3, 2019

With just over twenty schedule legislative days remaining, activists are continuing to push for passage of the New York Health Act. Dr. Roona Ray, a New York City family physician and Board Member of Physicians for a National Health Program of Metro New York, and Mahima Iyengar, a medical student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Co-President of Rochester’s chapter of Students for a National Health Program, explained why they are pushing for a Medicare for all program to come to New York.

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ARTICLE: What does universal healthcare mean for New Yorkers? Andrea Leonhardt, Brooklyn Reader

By Andrea Leonhardt, May 3, 2019

What Does Universal Health Care Mean for New Yorkers? Persaud Explains at East Bklyn Forum

The NY State Senate is currently mulling over a single-payer system that would eliminate co-pays and cover all New Yorkers

State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud hosted on Thursday a community forum to discuss how the New York Health Act, a proposed universal health care bill, would affect New Yorkers.

She was joined at the Jewish Community Council in Canarsie by fellow Senator Gustavo Rivera, sponsor of the NY Health Act, and a panel of health care professionals including Dr. Sandra R. Scott, Emergency Medicine physician at Brookdale Hospital; Dr. Donald Moore, a physician at New York Methodist Hospital;  Ari Moma, R.N , a member of The NYS Nurses Association; and Velda Jeffrey of labor union 1199SEIU.  

If passed, Senator Rivera’s bill would establish a single-payer-based, universal health care system in New York State where all citizens would receive comprehensive health care coverage, founded through an equitable new tax structure based on income....

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ARTICLE: Rally Pushes Support for New York Health Act, Andrew Freeman, Spectrum (Rochester)

By Andrew Freeman, May 1, 2019

A rally took place in downtown Rochester Wednesday to drive support for legislation that would create universal health care statewide.

  • Dozens of Rochesterians rally for statewide universal health care
  • Supporters shared their personal stories
  • Bill will be up in a public forum in two weeks

And those that attended shared their stories related to health care. Kristin Reisch’s now 10-year-old daughter Anna was born with several chronic health conditions, including three heart defects.

“My daughter spent the first several years of her life in and out of hospitals, racking up before she was 7 months old half a million dollars in medical debt,” Reisch said.

Luckily they had employer health insurance, though Reisch says that was a privilege she knows not everyone in the state has.

And that’s what brought her to Washington Square Park Wednesday, to rally in support of the New York Health Act — legislation that would create universal health care in the state.

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ARTICLE: What happened to NY’s plans for single-payer healthcare? Raina Lipsitz, The Nation

By Raina Lipsitz, May 2, 2019
The Albany machine is working to torpedo the New York Health Act—again.

New York’s Democratic voters sent a new class of true-blue legislators to Albany in 2018. With the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature firmly under Democratic control—and a raft of progressive bills rapidly signed into law—many hoped this would be the year New York finally enacted single-payer health care.

Health care was, after all, a top concern of voters in 2018, and support for single-payer legislation is strong and growing. One 2018 article suggested that even those running in mixed districts got the message: “Democrats in Swing Districts Run on, Not From, Single-Payer Health Care.”

Yet recent reports indicate that the New York State Senate has no plans to vote on legislation this session, preferring to hold more hearings on a bill that has been proposed in the legislature since 1992….

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #38, Julie Quest, This Is the Bronx

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

By Julie Quest, April 29, 2019
Profits And Patient Crises

As readers who have been following our healthcare stories might notice, there is a gap in our current system for patients with private insurance, and most others. When medications prescribed by doctors are not on the insurance “formulary,” patients must pay “out of pocket.” Recent studies report 73% of insured patients cut back on food or needed household items to pay for prescribed healthcare, almost half of insured patients have trouble paying out-of-pocket costs, and a quarter skip prescriptions because of cost.

Let us be clear: these are needed medications for acute or chronic conditions. When patients cannot afford them and don’t take them, many end up in a medical emergency, sometimes so dire their lives are threatened — as described in earlier stories, and in next week’s story, which focuses on the extortionate costs of generic drugs described below: patients with controllable ailments “bounced back” into emergency surgery and the ICU.

Aren’t Prescription Drugs Subject to Market Forces?...

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ARTICLE: Bona’s hosting Len Rodberg talk on NYS single-payer healthcare, MDJ Online

April 27, 2019
BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University is hosting a free public presentation Wednesday, by Dr. Leonard Rodberg on the economic costs and benefits of setting up a single-payer healthcare system for New York state.

The program is set for 7 p.m. in the Walsh Science Center Auditorium and will include time for questions from the audience.

Rodberg is professor of urban studies at Queens College/CUNY in New York City, where he has served on the faculty since 1981.

Rodberg has written and spoken extensively over the years about the American healthcare system, focusing most recently on the New York Health Act. His talk will address the most contentious issue surrounding the bill: its potential cost.

The New York Health Act has been approved by wide margins in the New York State Assembly for the last several years before stalling in the Republican-controlled State Senate. Now that the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, the bill has a stronger chance of being approved during the current legislative session.

If the bill passes, New York will become the first state in the nation to move toward implementation of a state single-payer system, making it a model for similar programs that could affect the entire nation.

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ARTICLE: Senate won't vote on single-payer before hearings, LaMantia, Crains Health Pulse

By Jonathan LaMantia, April 25, 2019

More than four months after Democrats assumed a majority in the state Senate, movement on a single-payer health system has been slow to materialize.

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, chair of the Senate health committee, said Wednesday the committee would wait until hearings on the bill are held around the state before voting to advance it. Rivera hopes to schedule a joint hearing of the state Legislature on the topic before the end of the session in mid-June and said a schedule for the hearings would be announced "imminently."

"The Senate has never really looked at it deeply," Rivera said. "Some of my colleagues that are new have some serious concerns and questions to ask about it. I want to make sure we get through all of it. What we're trying to do here is to fundamentally restructure how health care is delivered in the state of New York. When we do it, we've got to do it right."

His comments came after speaking at a City & State event at Baruch College, which served as the latest venue for debate on the bill. Rivera and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried spoke in support of the New York Health Act. Eric Linzer, president and CEO of the state Health Plan Association, argued in opposition.

"While it's true that 95% of New Yorkers have some form of health coverage, millions of New Yorkers with health coverage either go without needed health care or suffer financial hardship in order to get it," Gottfried said during the event.

The bill would cover medical expenses and long-term care for all New Yorkers, including undocumented immigrants, with no requirement that residents pay premiums or co-pays. The current version, introduced in February, lacks a tax structure to fund the bill. Its sponsors have said taxes on earned income and non-payroll income, such as capital gains, would be progressive. Earned income below $25,000 would be exempt.

A Rand Corp. analysis conducted last year on an earlier version of the bill estimated its cost would be about $159 billion in 2022.

Linzer said the state should focus on other policies, such as improving outreach to people eligible for government insurance programs and expanding subsidies to buy insurance.

"The focus ought to be, how do we get to that 5%" who are still uninsured, Linzer said. He also warned of "significant cuts that would have to come in provider reimbursement rates."

Gottfried countered that the bill requires the state to pay providers fees tied to the cost of offering health care and maintaining an adequate supply of services.

In a national poll released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31% of respondents said implementing a national Medicare-for-all plan should be Congress's top priority, with an additional 26% saying it is "important but not a top priority." The most commonly selected top priorities were lowering prescription drug costs and continuing the ACA's protections for people with pre-existing conditions, at 68% and 64%, respectively.

Even if the Legislature approved the bill today, Rivera noted, it would take years to implement. That raises the question of how New York will proceed as some Democratic presidential candidates promote a federal Medicare-for-all program that could be implemented should one of the contenders take the White House in 2020.

"If we manage to get a national Medicare-for-all program, God bless America. We don't have to do this. The best choice is to do it nationally," Rivera said. "Because a national solution is not forthcoming, people in my communities in the Bronx and communities all over the state are getting sick. They're still going broke. They're still uninsured or underinsured, and we need to fix that. So that's why we're pushing forward on this."

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VIEW: Single-payer health insurance would boost small businesses, Derek King, Buffalo News

By Derek King, April 23, 2019

I am the owner of a small business, and I am frustrated by private health care insurance.

Everyone knows that without insurance, any health care crisis can become a financial crisis. What most people don’t know is that insurance may not protect you. Worse, they don’t understand how it harms small businesses.

On a personal level, severe throat problems forced me to go to the emergency room twice in six months while I was on my mother's health insurance seven years ago. The first time, a surgeon drained a painful cyst. Then, to stop recurrence, another removed my tonsils. Despite being insured, it took me four and a half years to pay those bills.

On a professional level, when my consulting firm began hiring employees, I wanted everyone in our company to have good insurance coverage. It’s the ethical thing to do. It’s also practical: It reduces our competitive disadvantage against bigger companies…

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LETTER: Single-payer health care would be better, Brian Rhodes, Newsday

By Brian, Rhodes, April 22, 2019

The article “Blue Cross drops LI cancer care provider” [News, April 16] brings to light the necessity for a single-payer insurance system in America. The article reports that as of June 1, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists will no longer be in the Empire BlueCross BlueShield network.

Imagine a cancer patient who is comfortable with and trusts his or her doctor, but can no longer get care from that provider because his or her insurance company says so. Empire did not specify a reason for the change, except that it was “a result of our regular network review.” My hope is that this is not merely about profits. It’s time to take insurance companies and the desire for profits out of health care so people can decide what doctor they want to see without interference from a third party.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #37, Tom Behr, This Is the Bronx

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

By Tom Behr, April 21, 2019

I serve in a healing profession. As a therapist, I treat patients with chronic depression, sometimes caused by chronic illness — while I myself am chronically (and progressively) ill.

My days are spent helping patients learn new “dance steps” to better navigate their world. Unlike the legendary Fred Astaire, whose Hollywood films hid all ballroom errors with careful edits, my clients focus on resilience: learning to constantly regain rhythm and place after every misstep.

Like Ginger Rogers, who enabled Astaire’s success, I take pride in all my heroic “dancing partners,” as they regain the grace of navigating their ballrooms, but my increasingly fragile physical condition worries me. Will treatment expense sideline me as a “dancing” partner before my illness does?

While we all smile at the whispered truth that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels — my story is about the ill treating the ill, and it hurts too much to laugh….

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RADIO: Medicare for All NYS? It Has a Ways to Go, Mike Desmond, WBFO, Buffalo NPR

Interview by Mike Desmond, WBFO, April 16, 2019

There are a lot of building issues in the run-up to the 2020 presidential campaign. Among Democrats, one major issue is Medicare for All. Moday night, a group in Orchard Park talked about New York State's proposed version, the New York Health Act.

The proposal has gone through the State Assembly the last four years and with Democrats taking control of the State Senate, it is likely to pass that house. Then it is up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to decide if a single-payer health plan would come to New York.

Cost of the plan isn't clear. It would be paid for with all of the federal healthcare money that comes into the state and with a progressive income tax, possibly all replacing the property taxes that help pay for Medicaid.

Lawyer Kevin Ketchum said the plan would replace all private health insurance and be paid for with federal dollars and a progressive state income tax structure….

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ARTICLE: Healthcare breaking the bank for school districts, Colleen Wilson, Rockland Westchester

By Colleen Wilson, Apr 15, 2019

As if crafting school district budgets in the tax-cap era wasn’t already a challenge, a new report has found that districts' health care costs are soaring — and they're not decreasing any time soon.

Since 2013-14, employee health care costs have risen almost 23% for New York's school districts, eclipsing the rates of inflation and state aid increases, according to the state Association of School Business Officials.

School systems in the Hudson Valley saw health care costs increase 8.6% from 2017 to 2018, the largest one-year regional increase in the state.

While health health care costs are growing nationally, they will be uniquely “unsustainable” for school districts, according to Michael Borges, executive director of the ASBO and an author of the study….

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LETTER: Taxpayer-funded health care system would benefit all, Thomas Koshy, Kingston Daily Freeman

By Thomas Koshy, Apr 10, 2019

I am a retired physician, practiced in Kingston for more than 30 years, and plan to live and die here. I am interested in a viable medical system.

I spoke to Saugerties Chamber of Commerce two years back, supporting a single-payer system for New York, now known as the Health Act that is pending approval in state Senate….

As a physician, I believe a single-payer system can and must be put in place. I am a senior citizen covered by Medicare and Medicare supplement, paid from my pocket. I am happy with the coverage. Many seniors who have Medicare cannot afford to pay for supplement from their fixed income….

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VIEW: New York Health Act example of strong state government, Nick Turner, Daily Orange

By Nick Turner, April 8, 2019

Necessary services can seem out of reach to American citizens because the federal government cannot agree on how to provide them. The proposed New York Health Act, is an example of how state governments can take action and make decisions that help their citizens.

While there is gridlock in our federal government, state and local governments can provide an avenue for voters to have their voices heard. The New York Health Act represents a major policy reform that would provide something the federal government currently can’t. The New York Health Act would give health care to every New York citizen through a public fund.

“I think the lack of federal action to guarantee healthcare is certainly a motivation for a state like New York to pursue it,” said Katie Robbins, director of Campaign for New York Health, in an email. …

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VIEW: Medicare Is the Most Sensible Way to Fix Health Care, Gerald Friedman, Common Dreams

I've spent decades studying US health care. Time to get real: Medicare for All is the only reasonable path to controlling costs and covering everyone.

By Gerald Friedman, April 8, 2019

There is an instinct among political pundits to confuse caution for practicality — an assumption that those who advocate for incremental change are being reasonable, while those pushing for bold reforms aren’t. This is seen most starkly in the debate around health care reform, despite the fact that the “practical” pushers of limited reform fail to address the real problems in our health care system.

We all recognize that the status quo isn’t working. We spend more per person than any other country on health care, but we aren’t getting any bang for our buck. We have lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates and more preventable deaths, and too many personal bankruptcies are due at least in part to medical bills. …

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #36, Ana Gordon, This Is the Bronx

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

By Ana Gordon, April 7, 2019

Doctor Diagnosis to Patient on Medicare: “You’re too old.”

For fifteen years I’ve been on Medicare, supplemented by an employee retirement plan, but co-pays and deductibles are so high I’ve stopped seeing my doctor every year for check-ups. It seemed that every check-up required more tests, more medications, more paperwork, and more money. 

I am a senior citizen on a fixed income who worries about how my expenses get higher every year. I don’t go to movies or restaurants. I don’t buy clothes. My dog, who is my constant companion, is my only luxury.

A few times in the past five years, I’ve had dizzy spells that worry me but my doctor can’t tell me why or how to stop them. The last time I saw him, he told me I’m old and he can’t explain everything that happens when you age. He made me so angry I decided to switch doctors, but, when I called my insurance people, I got such a headache from listening to music and being told that every nearby doctor I mentioned was out of network, I gave up. 

When your fears become real. . .

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