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

By Chris McKenna, Feb 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EDITORIAL: Patience is a healthy virtue, Riverdale Press

by the Editorial Board, February 17, 2019

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

And she is absolutely right to do so.

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

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

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

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

by Silvia Blumenfeld, February 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

By Barbara Kloss, February 4, 2019

Trying Not to Die Right Now 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Judith Esterquest & Barbara Estrin, Jan 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

By Gus Rivera & Karla Lawrence, Feb 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

By Jeremy Moule, Jan 23, 2019

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

Health care

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

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

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

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

By Lanning Taliaferro, Feb 7, 2019

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

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

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ARTICLE: On the N.Y. Health Care Act, Johnette Howard, East Hampton Star

By Johnette Howard | February 7, 2019 - 1:27pm

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

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

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VIEWPONT: Who says we can’t afford Medicare for All? Gerald Friedman, Daily Hampshire Gazette

By Gerald Friedman, Feb 4, 2019

Richard Fein’s Jan. 28 column raises important questions about Medicare for All in Massachusetts. It is unfortunate, however, that my colleague failed to consult much of the relevant documentation addressing many of the questions.

To begin with, the central question is not whether we can afford a better and cheaper health care system, but whether we can continue to pay for the current system with all its inefficiencies and inequities. A raft of studies from scholars on the political right and center have shown that a Medicare for All system would cost less than the current fragmented insurance system even while providing universal coverage to every resident. It is not just proponents of Medicare for All who believe that billions can be saved. The right-wing, Koch-brothers-funded Mercatus Center found a Medicare for All system would over 10 years lower health care spending by over 3 percent, $2 trillion in savings, even while covering every American without co-pays or deductibles. The RAND Corporation studied a proposed single-payer system for New York state and supported my findings that it would lower spending even while providing universal access and universal coverage, and dramatically increasing employment and economic activity in the state. Studies have similarly concluded that single-payer systems would save money even while providing better health care in Oregon (RAND), Ohio (Friedman), Washington (Friedman), California (PERI), among many others. No serious study has ever found that single-payer would raise total costs....

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ARTICLE: NYHA sponsors dismiss Cuomo's 'universal access' study panel, Niedzwiadek, Politico Pro

By Nick Niedzwiadek, Feb 5, 2019

The sponsors of a bill to create a single-payer health care system in New York are not hiding their disdain for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed commission to study ways to achieve universal health care access. 

The governor's health budget bill included few details on the proposed commission, other than that it would hold at least one public meeting and would report its findings to the departments of Health and Financial Services no later than Dec. 1, 2019. It did not outline the number of commission members, nor did it specify if the Legislature would be able to appoint people to serve on it. 

"It seems like it's just something you're putting forward to say you're thinking about it, but not really," state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), the Senate Health chairman, said during a budget hearing on Tuesday. 

His counterpart, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan) — who's carried the New York Health Act for decades — joked that he had a nickname for the proposed commission that's not suitable for "polite company."

"Don't spend too much time explaining it to people, because I don't think it's going to exist in the budget when it's passed," Gottfried told a representative of the Department of Financial Services who testified Tuesday. 

A RAND Corp. study published last year found that a single-payer health system was financially feasible in New York, though it included a number of modeling assumptions — such as an unprecedented waiver to redirect billions in health care funds to the new system — that are unlikely under the Trump administration. 

For his part, Cuomo has called a universal health care system a "good idea," but one that would be more realistically implemented on the federal, not state, level. 

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ARTICLE: Cure for Failing Health Care, Johnette Howard, East Hampton Star

By Johnette Howard, February 14, 2019

The longer the discussion continued, the clearer it became that neither the panelists nor the audience at a New York Health Act forum on Saturday afternoon had come to debate the merits of the proposed bill. Rather, they had come to talk about why it finally needs to become law. 

The panelists at the event, held at the Stony Brook Southampton campus, spoke about the bill’s revolutionary promises and lamented “misinformation” campaigns against it that, they said, were motivated primarily by a simple fear of change. And the audience, judging by the questions asked of the panel, seemed to find little downside to the bill, which was reintroduced in the New York State Assembly on Monday....

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ARTICLE: NY Health Forum Set for Feb 9, Beth Young, East End Beacon

By Beth Young, Feb 3, 2019

Progressive groups from throughout the East End are holding a forum on “A Healthier New York for ALL” on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Drew Lecture Hall at Stony Brook University’s Southampton Campus.

The forum will give advocates for the New York Health Act a chance to discuss how they hope providing a public health care program, dubbed “Medicare for All,” can dramatically alter the way New Yorkers pay for health care.

At 1:30 p.m. there will be a moderated panel discussion with Assemblymember Fred Thiele, Prof. Martha Livingston, Chair of the Public Health Dept. at SUNY, Old Westbury; Robert Chaloner, Southampton Hospital President; Michael Hynes, Superintendent of Patchogue-Medford Schools and Jackie Romero, Nurses’ Union. The panel will be moderated by PEER member Cheryl Cashin, a health economist and managing director at Results for Development Institute who has 20 years experience designing and implementing health financing policy for health systems in low- and middle-income countries.

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LETTER: New Yorkers Need Health Coverage, Eric Gemunder, Newsday

By Eric Gemunder, Jan. 25, 2019

I am broke due to medical expenses, and I am not alone.

My out-of-pocket, unreimbursed medical expenses for 2013-17 exceeded $56,500, not including my monthly premium. That’s more than $11,000 a year, or over $940 a month, every month, for five years. Calculating my preliminary costs for 2018, my expenses will again exceed $11,000....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #33, Judith N. Kearns, This Is the Bronx

By Judith N. Kearns, March 18, 2019

We have been covering stories for several months of people –with for profit, public, or no insurance—who struggle with the double indemnity of health crises and financial troubles. But so far, we have not reported about a population still young enough to benefit from a major facet of the Affordable Care Act: coverage on parents’ policies until age 26. But what happens when they age out and struggle with health bills on top of student loans accrued by 70% of college graduates? 

A Sudden Illness Changed My Life’s Work

Seven years ago, the future I had planned evaporated. Otherwise healthy, I was in graduate school, studying at a mid-western university. With a graduate degree, I could pursue the career in psychology that was a lifelong ambition. I was covered by university health insurance and, what I thought was a temporary glitch, became something much more. 

The college doctor could not figure out what was going on. Since I had always been active in sports, I thought perhaps I might have overexerted myself. To be cautious, I went to our family doctor during spring break in the hope of easing the pain (which kept getting steadily worse). My expectation was that he would say that I was simply still experiencing growing pains or that, unbeknownst to me, I had incurred an injury that was minor and that didn’t produce an instant shock to my system. …

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #31B, Marisol Q. Santos, This Is the Bronx

By Marisol Q. Santos, February 25, 2019

A trip to the dentist reveals more than a toothache (Part 2)

I was very young when I came to New York and almost penniless. I worked at a minimum wage job and I noticed that, when I brushed my teeth, the roof of my mouth would bleed. Something was wrong. I delayed and delayed until the bleeding became so severe I could no longer put it off. I pulled myself together, gathered all my courage and went to a dentist, explaining that I could not pay for all the bill at once. I would need to spread out my payments. The dentist accepted me as a patient. 

He examined me and found that the bleeding was not caused by ordinary periodontal disease although (at the time) millions of Americans had conditions that, if left untreated, could lead to bone and tooth loss. No, the dentist discovered a tumor. He explained that I really should be in a hospital to have the tumor removed. 

I begged him to remove the tumor right in his office because (without insurance then) I could not afford a hospital stay and the bills that would accrue for all that the treatment involved (anesthesia, medications, possible complications) frightened me more than I can even say. 

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #31, Marisol Q. Santos, This Is the Bronx

By Marisol Q. Santos, February 18, 2019

What about your teeth? (Part one – Part two will be published next Monday)

This series has documented medical trauma which became financial trauma because over 10 million New Yorkers are underinsured with present insurance guidelines and over 1 million have no insurance at all. Those with commercial insurance and Medicare Advantage plans are caught within defined networks, held up by prior authorizations, rising co-pays, and expensive medications any (or all) of which cause them to delay or forego critical care. An unexpected $500 out-of-pocket medical bill is too much for many people to pay or to pay in a timely way. According to new data, unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy filings, outpacing bankruptcies due to credit-card bills or delayed mortgage payments, Having health insurance doesn’t buffer consumers against financial hardship.

But we have not yet told stories about how seemingly minor conditions can become major health issues, sometimes leading even to death. . And some of these consequences can be avoided with New York Health which covers ALL medically necessary care, including medical, prescription, vision, dental, hearing, mental health and substance abuse treatment; and reproductive care….

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Lawmakers Reintroduce the New York Health Act;

Advocates Celebrate Inclusion of Long-Term Care and Support Services

The bill is now amended to include long-term care and support services, making it the most comprehensive, progressive, state-level universal healthcare bill in the country


Albany, NY—Advocates celebrated the reintroduction of the New York Health Act [A.5248, S.3577] today, calling attention to its highly-anticipated revision to include long-term care and support services. This development is the result of years of organizing by women, seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, home care workers, unions, undocumented people, and the uninsured who worked with supportive elected officials to include these necessary services as a key component of the benefit package of the proposed universal healthcare system. Eighty-one Assembly Members and twenty-two Senators were listed as original cosponsors on the bill upon reintroduction.

“We estimate that there are approximately 44 million unpaid family caregivers in the US providing almost 90% of care. Home care workers provide the rest. Out of two million home care workers, 90% are women, 53% are women of color. As the population of older adults in New York and across the United States rises, so does the imperative need for caregiving and an improved system of providing long-term care. That is why inclusion of long-term care in single-payer is such a visionary step. It places true value on services and supports to enable aging adults and people with disabilities to access the full scope of care.” Rachel McCullough, co-director of the New York Caring Majority.

After passing the New York Health Act in the Assembly four years in a row with overwhelming support, advocates are optimistic that it will begin to move through the legislative process in the Senate. The respective chairs of the Senate and Assembly Health Committees and lead sponsors of the bill, Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, pledged to hold public hearings after the budget to further advance the debate.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, particularly women, are being suffocated by the financial burden placed on them as they provide long-term care for their loved ones,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee and sponsor of the bill. “By covering long-term care in the New York Health Act, we are aiming to provide aging adults and people with disabilities access to the quality care they need while providing financial relief for hard-working families in our state and dramatically improving the system for those who provide care. I look forward to continue working together with my colleagues and key stakeholders to make healthcare a right and not a privilege in New York State."

“Long-term care is an intolerable drain on family finances and a burden on thousands of family caregivers – disproportionately women – who provide unpaid care to  family members,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of the bill. “We can cover long-term care, providing dignity and financial security to millions of aging and disabled New Yorkers, under a progressive public financing model.  Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, including long-term supports and services, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it.”

While the Governor has expressed support for a single-payer ‘Medicare for All’ system at the federal level, he has not yet lent support to the state-level proposal. Advocates point out that the RAND Corporation’s analysis of the bill found that with long-term care services included in the benefit package, a single-payer system as described in the NY Health Act will cost less than the current system overall, while also improving the lives of people who currently must impoverish themselves to be eligible for Medicaid in order to access long-term care services.

“1199SEIU caregivers understand all too well the access barriers that many New Yorkers face to healthcare,” said Gabby Seay, 1199SEIU’s Political Action Director.  “As our population ages, and the demand for long-term care undoubtedly increases, it will be imperative that we have measures in place to ensure that New Yorkers are able to receive the care they need.  We commend Senator Rivera and Assembly Member Gottfried for their commitment to our shared vision of healthcare access for all New Yorkers.

Nurses are on the front line of patient care, well aware that healthcare access is not simply a matter of who is insured and who is not," said Marva Wade, RN and New York State Nurses Association Board Member. "A crisis exists for many of our insured patients struggling to afford the co-pays, deductibles, out-of-network charges, and shifting RX formularies. This results in wasted resources spent navigating this profit-driven system, not to mention limited health access and poor health outcomes. The New York Health Act is the cure for this broken healthcare system!"

“By passing the NY Health Act, we will be on a clear path to truly universal, affordable healthcare -- more comprehensive than any existing plan or proposal with inclusion of long-term care benefits. Passing the bill will trigger an implementation process that sets up commissions to address transition issues, financing, negotiation of reimbursement, and regional access issues. But as long as we keep the wasteful, profit-seeking private health insurance corporations at the center of our system, we will struggle to afford and access the health care that we need. Providers will continue to burn out as they fight insurance companies to get their patients needed care. Many hospitals and clinics will continue to chase profitable care delivery models, not what the population actually needs to stay healthy. People will continue to make difficult choices to afford care they need. We need guaranteed healthcare in New York. We need the NY Health Act.” Katie Robbins, Director, Campaign for New York Health.  




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LETTER: NY Health Act recognizes health care as human right, Kerin J. Rigney,

By Kerin J. Rigney, January 14, 2019

All over the world, developed nations have determined that access to medical treatment is a human right. They have determined that as a civilized society, they would collectively care for each member whether they have gainful employment or not. They recognize that not every member of society is able to work such as children, the sick and the elderly and that access to a doctor or medication when ill is essential for a healthy and functional democracy and that it is in everyone’s best interest to grant that access.

The United States stands alone as a developed democracy which does not consider access to medical treatment a human right. The United States stands alone in treating medicine as simply an industry just like any other, and includes it in the capitalist philosophy of demand and supply. Seeking treatment for an illness is considered the same as shopping for a new car.

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LETTER: Health act guarantees everyone will get care, Daniel Neghassi, M.D., Times-Union

By Daniel Neghassi, MD, January 18, 2019

Dr. Tom Madejski's commentary ("New York must think through single-payer system move," Jan. 1) misses important aspects of the New York Health Act.

The legislation establishes an independent trust fund that would not be subject to the yearly budget process. This will allow for stability and for fair negotiations with providers. The goal will be to ensure the quality and quantity of care needed by New Yorkers, a goal that can be only be reached if health care dollars go directly to providers instead of insurance company executives.

In our current commercial insurance system, preauthorization exists mainly to maximize profit. In contrast, Medicare has very few such requirements, and those that exist, mainly for drugs and devices, are driven largely by outrageous prices. NY Health expects to minimize preauthorization and use the leverage of 20 million customers to drive down drug and device prices.

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LETTER: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should focus on New York Health Act, Anne Flomenhaft, Newsday

By Anne Flomenhaft, January 18, 2019

Long Island is facing an affordability crisis. Young people like myself are finding it harder than ever to live here.

With Democratic majorities in the State Senate and Assembly, nothing should hold back Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from solving this crisis on the state level [“Cuomo’s agenda,” News, Jan. 15]. If he wants to make history, there’s an option already on the table: the New York Health Act, which would guarantee health care for all New Yorkers and make it free at the point of service.

Cuomo knows this already. The legislation has been passed by the State Assembly four consecutive years, but gathered dust in the State Senate Health Committee under Sen. Kemp Hannon, who lost his seat in November.

Listen to any one of us, and you’ll quickly learn that Long Island voters put health care at the top of our concerns. Contact your state senators to remind them who put them in office and why.

Anne Flomenhaft, Malverne

Newsday Link

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VIEWPOINT: Resist changes to Medicare, Medicaid limiting drugs, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

By Barbara Estrin, January 6, 2019

Amidst the flurry of television advertisements for Christmas bargains, Medicare ran a series of its own, pushing Advantage Plans over traditional Medicare. Why was the government advertising for big insurance companies? And what else was the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services doing while we were preparing for the holidays?

For one thing, it didn’t oppose the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act brought by 18 states. Ten days before Christmas, millions of Americans heard that a Texas judge ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The Texas ruling — which even President Trump has tweeted will not go into effect immediately — throws panic into people with pre-existing conditions, millennials who had coverage under their parents’ plans until they reach 26, and people who received Medicaid or federal assistance to buy policies.

What a merry holiday season!

But there’s more.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #25, Brielle Cardieri and Cindy Saenz, 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 Brielle Cardieri and Cindy Saenz, January 7, 2019

Healthcare and Immigrants

One of the most frustrating things about caring for patients is knowing that there are viable treatments available but that, because of your patient’s legal status, they cannot get access. Our patient doesn’t have the option of life-saving treatment. Here is her story.

Linda is our patient at the student-run free clinic at our medical school. The clinic serves patients who are uninsured and ineligible for insurance, the majority of whom are undocumented immigrants from Central and South America. Linda emigrated from Mexico twenty years ago to escape persecution and violence because of her sexual orientation but also to seek a better life living with her brother in New York City.

Linda came to our clinic with a variety of medical problems, the most significant of which is chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that causes the kidneys to lose their ability to remove waste products from the blood. As the disease progresses, the only two options to prevent death from kidney failure are dialysis or kidney transplantation. While the etiology of CKD is multifactorial, it is most commonly the result of long-standing uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. Over the course of our time together, Linda has transitioned from living a fully independent life to relying on dialysis three days per week to keep her alive.

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LETTER: How to Fix a Broken Health Care System, Isabella Vitti, The New York Times

By Isabella Vitti, December 29, 2018

To the Editor:

I am fortunate enough to have decent health insurance through my employer. However, this means that if I want to switch jobs, for a better salary or a job that better suits my career goals, I may have to go without health insurance for a risky period of time, or pay the exorbitant Cobra costs. I would also be more hesitant to work for a small company that may not provide health insurance. Wouldn’t we be served better if people could pursue their careers without having to worry about having employer health insurance coverage? This is why I support the New York Health Act.

Isabella Vitti

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #24, Sandra Joy Stein, 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 Sandra Joy Stein, December 17, 2018

A Mother’s Fight for her Son’s Life

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 anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

About two months into his 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.

I was told that I had been sent to collections for non-payment of bills that I didn’t even know I had as I held bedside vigil for my son while he teetered for months on the border of life and death....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #23, Tom Behr, This Is the Bronx

by Tom Behr, December 10, 2018

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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ARTICLE: Brewing Healthcare Battle Is Preview of Medicare for All War, Harry Cheadle, VICE

New York is on the verge of a Democrat-on-Democrat slugfest that will determine the state's healthcare future.

By Harry Cheadle, December 13, 2018

Last month, Democrats achieved an historic win in New York, flipping control of the state senateand thus taking control of the entire government, upending a weird status quo during which a group of breakaway Democrats allowed the Republicans to control the legislature's upper chamber. Now that they actually have the power to pass laws in one of the most Democratic states in the country, the possibilities seem intoxicating for the left:Abortion access could be codified into law, the subways could finally be fixed, the state's byzantine election laws could be updated, and New York could commit to fighting climate change.

But right near the top of any progressive wish list is the New York Health Act, the state's version of Medicare for all—which is to say universal, government-provided—health insurance. Single-payer healthcare, as such systems are also called, has been a left-wing lodestar for generations. If the NYHA passed, it would make New York the first state in the union to guarantee free access to healthcare (and freedom from fear of health-related bankruptcy) to all of its residents, including undocumented people.

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ARTICLE: Has Single-Payer Health Care's Time Finally Come? Rebecca Lewis, City & State

By Rebecca Lewis, December 9, 2018
Democrats are coming out of the woodwork to back the New York Health Act.

With their new majority in the state Senate, Democrats are finally preparing to pass long-stalled progressive legislation. Perhaps the most expansive and expensive item on the agenda – and among the most controversial – is the New York Health Act, which would establish a single-payer health care system in the state, and one study estimatedit would cost $139 billion in 2022. Many incoming lawmakers campaigned on the promise that they would get it done, but even if it does pass, it likely won’t be implemented right away.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly has passed the legislation every year since 2015, but in that time it never came up for a vote in the state Senate thanks to the Republican majority. Now that the chamber will be in Democratic hands, the legislation seems far more likely to pass.

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PRESS RELEASE: New York City Council Calls for the State Legislature and Governor to Pass the New York Health Act with Historic Resolution





Katie Robbins | [email protected] | 917-657-4663



New York City Council Calls for the State Legislature and Governor

to Pass the New York Health Act with Historic Resolution


City Hall, NY — Today, the New York City Council passed a historic resolution by an overwhelming majority with 44 Council Members voting in favor, calling on the New York State Legislature and Governor to pass the New York Health Act, guaranteeing publicly-funded healthcare for all New York State residents.

This vote happened on the tail of a hearing held last week where Speaker Johnson, Health Committee Chair Levine, and New York City residents and leaders called for the passage of the New York Health Act (A.4738-A/S.4840-A) shortly before more than 75 people testified in favor of Council Resolution 470. The New York Health Act 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, Health Committee Chair 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.

Recent studies show that the New York Health Act can cover every New York resident and improve access to care, while spending less in total healthcare costs than the status quo. The savings in moving from the fragmented, privatized system to a streamlined publicly-financed system would alleviate the health insurance burden on local municipal budgets, as well as New York City’s share of Medicaid payments, resulting in an estimated $9.4 billion – or 11% of the budget – in savings for the city. Additionally, of the 1.7 million New Yorkers that are uninsured statewide, over 1 million of them live in New York 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. This included Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), who spoke at last week’s hearing about her own personal healthcare challenges. Statewide support of this legislation is growing, reflected in the 18 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.


“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 who sponsored Resolution 470.

Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Council Committee on Health stated: "Single-payer, universal health care used to be seen as a fringe, pie-in-the-sky issue. Not any more. Passage of this resolution is the latest sign of the political momentum behind the principle that healthcare is a human right. This victory is the fruit of years of labor by the Campaign for New York Health, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and so many others.  Next stop...Albany!"

“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.

“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."

"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





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






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