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LETTER: Right Track on Health, Henry Moss, Riverdale Press

By Henry Moss, April 7, 2019

In her recent story, Simone Johnson captures the growing popularity of the single-payer New York Health Act and the enthusiasm of supporters like Sen. Alessandra Biaggi.

However, it leaves the impression that older adults with Medicare Advantage plans, like Ms. Yona Bello quoted in the story, are doing just fine. The fact that the commercial insurance companies find them enormously profitable should make one suspicious.

Most don’t know that tax dollars are used to provide special subsidies to MA insurers so they can offer extra services, like optical and dental, with the aim of privatizing Medicare. And most aren’t aware that insurers market these plans primarily to healthier seniors with numerous disincentives for those with chronic and complex conditions, including restricted choice of primary care providers and poor access to specialists.

There also are limits on expensive treatments and steeper cost sharing…

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SERIES: Urgent Care Offers Lower Costs and Wait Times, Julia Rose Herman, Norwood News

By Julia Rose Herman of WFUV, March 31, 2019

Urgent Care Offers Lower Costs and Wait Times, But at a Price

As urgent care centers pop up across the Bronx, Dr. Barry Baker, a private practitioner, prefers the traditional physician-patient model. But it doesn’t mean he doesn’t keep one foot in the urgent care trend.

Dr. Baker, who has an office in Throggs Neck, always knew he wanted to go into private practice. “I saw an ad in The New York Times ‘Practice for Sale’–I contacted the husband and wife who owned the practice and they were on Castle Hill Avenue. They were practicing for 49 years and we got to have a nice relationship, and that’s how I ended up in the Bronx,” said Dr. Baker….

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SERIES: Meeting the Demand for Dental Work in Underserved Communities, Marina Kopf, Norwood News

By Marina Kopf of WFUV, March 15, 2019

Dr. Douglas York, CEO of the Union Community Health Center (UCHC) in the Belmont section of the Bronx, said the center’s waiting rooms for a dental check-up are always packed. They’re open six days a week and even some nights, hoping to get as many patients on their dentists’ chairs so they can utilize their services sometimes at no cost.

There’s a shortage of dentists in the Bronx, with 33 dentists per 100,000 people in the borough, about half the national average, according to data from the ADA and The Center for Health Workforce Studies. Dr. York said this creates problems for some patients.

“There’s a provider shortage, which means there’s an access issue,” he said.

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SERIES: At $1200 a Month, Managing Diabetes on Bronx Family Budget, Theresa Schliep, Norwood News

By Theresa Schliep, March 4, 2019
The Norwood News, WFUV Radio, and BronxNet Television present a five-part series on health-related struggles affecting residents of the Bronx.

Elbia Cabral of Highbridge knows a lot about insulin. She knows the different kinds of long-acting and short-lasting insulin, the cheap brands, and the pricier brands. It’s been a year and a half since 12-year-old Elizabeth was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And it’s been an adjustment for the whole family….

As an added way of ensuring she stays healthy, the family adopted a diabetes assist dog, Flower, who can smell scents in Elizabeth’s blood sugar. They’ve also had to adjust their lives to afford the insulin and medication Elizabeth needs. At around $1200 a month, or $14,400 a year, her care competes with the price of rent in some neighborhoods…

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VIEW: Let’s Take Healthcare Off the Bargaining Table, Larry Brown, Portside

By Larry Brown, April 2, 2019

Union members enjoy some of the best health care that working-class Americans can expect to receive. Unions have fought long and hard to establish and maintain these benefits and they are justly proud of their achievements. In the absence of a national health plan, they have sacrificed much to negotiate a modicum of security for their members and their families.

More than half of all Americans still access health care through employment-based benefit plans. There is a myth that Americans love their health plans and want to preserve them at all costs. But providing an important public good like health care as a benefit linked to employment rather than as a right available to all is an accident of history. This linkage is not only a bad idea, it is also simply unsustainable.

No other advanced industrialized country links health care to employment like the U.S. does.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #35, Sandra O. Rossoff, 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 Sandra O. Rossoff, April 1, 2019

Today’s piece involves a retired licensed social worker on Medicare who reports how the system has not been adequate for her and how (when she was working) she saw how it failed her clients. 

Medicare Doesn’t Care 

Despite the fact that I am well beyond 65—and have Medicare–I have foregone regular check ups, mental health care, dental treatment and done without hearing aids. Each of these necessities are beyond my limited means. When I have sought treatment, the costs have been a burden. Some of the providers didn’t accept Medicare so I had to pay the bills out of pocket. I don’t have voluntary prescription drug care (Part D) because the premiums are so high that I am forced to ration my pharmaceutical intake. 

But primarily, the outcomes of the care I’ve received over the years has resulted in my present painful situation. When I suffered my first post-menopausal bone break,the hospital failed to recognize my osteoporosis, misdiagnosing my broken bone by not connecting this to a decrease in my bone density. During all these years since then, I have had two broken shoulders, two broken knees, two broken vertebrae, two broken ribs, a shattered femur, broken metatarsal, and a trimalleolar ankle break. I’ve been in treatment with a local bone treatment center, which is a research center. . Now I am on Prolia, which is a shot given twice a year at a prohibitive price. Luckily Medicare pays for it. But I had to wait until my doctor received prior authorization. My fear is that, under new rules suggested to save Medicare money under which certain drugs are protected, Prolia may no longer be approved. Fosimax costs much less and, while it prevents osteoporosis, it does nothing to treat the pain that I have It’s a pay or suffer approach to medicine. …

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LETTER: Chronic disease sufferers would benefit from NY Health, Rick Olanoff, Syracuse.com

By Rick Olanoff, March 26, 2019

Thank you, Rhett Cox, for sharing your concerns about the New York Health Act (“Single-payer health insurance would take away patient choice,” March 20, 2019). First, New Y Health will give you more choice in practitioners, both generalists and specialists. Diabetics, whose bodies change over time, need internists, endocrinologists and ophthalmologists to prevent this autoimmune disease from ravaging their bodies and depleting their finances. Twenty years ago, insulin and supplies cost about $1,000 per year. Today, it’s $8,000.

High costs cause almost 40 percent of New Yorkers with chronic diseases to use less medication than prescribed and delay seeing doctors.

Single-payer NY Health Act will solve that. How? It’s a payment system, not a delivery system. Just like with Medicare, doctors and hospitals will send their bills to the New York Health Trust, not to dozens of for-profit insurers. You (or your employer-based healthcare plan) will pay into the trust through a graduated tax.

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LETTER: NY Health Act would cover all, for less, Katie Barrett, Syracuse.com

By Katie Barrett, March 26, 2019

In response to the March 20, 2019, letter “Single-payer health insurance would take away patient choice,” by Rhett Cox.

As a bartender in the past, I spent many years listening to people’s worries. Health care is personal for almost everyone, myself included. My husband also has diabetes, and despite his being on Medicare, it cost us $6,700 last year. Like Mr. Cox, my husband’s life depends on daily treatment.

I have the cheapest insurance I can find with a $4,000 deductible. Last year, our added out-of-pocket approached $9,000 because I got sick. This year, I’ll try to avoid doctors, as most do when faced with bill after bill, above your monthly premium.

Working-class people, like us, are hurt the most. If anything really bad happens, we could lose all our savings or even our home…

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ARTICLE: Single-payer universal health care proposal, Denise Civiletti, Riverhead Local

By Denise Civiletti, March 26, 2019
Single-payer universal health care proposal: What will it mean to you?

April 2 forum in Riverhead will examine impacts of New York Health Act.

An informational forum on the proposed single-payer universal health care bills pending in Albany will be held in Riverhead on Tuesday, April 2.

The New York Health Act would provide comprehensive, universal health care coverage to all New Yorkers, paid for by the state. It would replace private insurance coverage in New York.

According to the legislative memorandum filed with the bill this year, every New York resident would be eligible to enroll, regardless of age, income, wealth, employment, or other status.

There would be no network restrictions, deductibles, or co-pays. The benefits will include comprehensive outpatient and inpatient medical care, long-term care, primary and preventive care, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, rehabilitative, dental, vision and hearing care….

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

By Ron Widelec, Mar 22, 2019

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

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

By Ron Widelec, Mar 22, 2019

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

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

By Marc H. Lavietes, March 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

Marc H Lavietes, M.D. Soho

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

By Suzanne Flierl Krull, March 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

By Patricia Meyer Lee, March 7, 2019

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

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

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

Patricia Meyer Lee
Tonawanda

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

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

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

By Elizabeth Rosenthal, March 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

By Judy Fletcher, March 4, 2019

Billing Compounds Serious Health Condition

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

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

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

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

By Colette Swietnicki, Feb 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Adam Gaffney, March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

By Barbara Dyskant, March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Helen Meltzer-Krim, February 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

#Big Pharma Greed Kills Fact Sheet here.

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

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

By Danny Lugassy, MD, March 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Candice Hildebrant, February 17, 2019

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

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

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

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

Angela Kelschenbach, February 18, 2019

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

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

Did you benefit? Yes. 

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

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