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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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ARTICLE: At hearing, City Council gives warm reception to single-payer, Jonathan Lamantia, Crain’s

By Jonathan Lamantia, Dec 7, 2018
Democrats winning the state Senate in the midterms gives the bill a political boost

The City Council seems likely to pass a resolution endorsing a state single-payer health care bill after a hearing Thursday in which health committee chair Mark Levine fervently supported such a system and criticized its detractors.

Levine derided the status quo in health care, which costs more per capita in the U.S. than in other developed countries without better outcomes. He said that while he supports a national approach, it is unlikely to be taken up by the Trump administration.

"New York need not and must not stand still in the face of inaction at the federal level," he said.

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VIDEO: NYC Council Hearing on Resolution 470 Supporting NY Health, chaired by Mark Levine

Click on "video" after navigating to NYC Council Health Committee meeting on December 6, 2018, here

Sequence of Panels (4 hours, 28 minutes) (apologies to any who testified whose names are omitted or misspelled)

0:01 — Mark Levine, Chair of Health Committee, NYC Council
0:07 — Richard Gottfried, NYS Assembly
1:06 — Alessandra Biaggi, NYS Assembly, Dr. Mary Bassett, former NYC Commissioner of Health
1:25 — David Rich, Gtr NY Hospital Assoc
1:48 — Judy Sheridan Gonzales, Pres NYSNA ;Marva Wade, NYSNA; James Perlstein PSC CUNY;
Jim Bracchittla, Screen Actors Guild Pension Fund
2:03 — Dr. Len Gottfried, Director of Research, PNHP-Metro; Anthony Feliciano, Director - Commission
on the Public’s Health System; Dr. Henry Moss, PNHP-Metro; Dr. Lisa Melilli, epidemiologist.
2:22 —Bobbie Sackman, Caring Majority; Heidi Siegfried, Center for Independence of Disabled;
Karla Lawrence, Caring Majority; Jean Ryan, Disabled in Action
2:37 — Kimberly Smith, Callen Lourde; PNHP; National Asso of Social Workers
2:51 —India Home; Chinese American Planning Council; NY Immigration Coalition; Coalition for Chinese American Families
3:06 —Charmaine Ruddock, Bronx Health Outreach; Elena Polivy, Geriatric Care Managers;
Priscilla Bassett, Statewide Senior Action Council; Bob Lederer, PNHP
3:27 — Jeff Michelson, David Lee, Dana Offenbach
3:47 — Barbara Estrin, Joseph, Alana
3:57 — Dr. Naomi Zudai; Dr. Elizabeth Kolag; medical malpractice attorney …
4:13 — Vote will be next week
4:14 — Colette Swietnicki, Ilana, Jean Fox


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VIDEO: Rally for NYC Council Resolution 470 to Support NY Health

December 6, 2018

Rally Video Here

Speaking order as follows:

Katie Robbins Director of the Campaign for NY Health, emcee and organizer
Raging Grannies, 1:00, “The HC Bills Go Round n Round”; “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a painful swollen nose”
Marva Wade, 3:20 Board Member, NYS Nurses Associate Board Member
Mark Levine, 7:15, Chair of NYC Council Health Committee
Rafael Espinal, 11:45, NYC Council
Corey Johnson, 13:30 NYC Council head, tells his health story.
Alessandria Biaggi,  19:00 new NYS Assembly Member
Richard Gottfried, at 22:00, most senior NYS Assembly Member, first introduced NYHA 25 years ago — now passed 5 times.
Katrina Reyes, at 25:00 new Assembly member, nurse
Sandra Stein, at 27:00, mother of a 9-yr-old who needs NYHA
Matthew Eugene, 33:40, NYC Council Member
Mary Basset, MD,  37:40, former Health Commissioner for NYC
Her mom Priscilla Basset, 39:00, speaking as Medicare recipient
Jessica Edwards, MD, 42:00, Natl President of Comm of Interns & Residents.
Peter Meacher, MD, 44:00 Chief Medical Officer of Callan Lourde
Dana Offenbach, 48:00, one of 4M independent contractors in NYC
Jean Ryan, 50:00, President of Disabled in Action
Josh Kellerman, 51:00, Retail, Wholesale, and Dept Store Union



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SERIES: Healthcare in America #22, Ryland Church, 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 Ryland Church, December 3, 2018

From Riches to Rags
Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all my ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
– W.B.Yeats “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”

Of course I was a prima donna in the high flying world of fashion design. How could I not be? I was plucked out of New York’s premier school of fashion and design to join the select design team of the most exclusive Fifth Avenue department store – a rare and coveted position. At the age of 18 I was one of a team of eight designers producing 300 “Looks” a year. These exciting window and store designs created energy throughout the store, making retail headlines and increasing sales volume. My world centered around the Spring and Fall Couture Collections in Paris, London, and New York of famous designers such as Bill Blass, Halston, Givenchy, Gucci and Ralph Lauren.

Those early years were my proving grounds, with tireless work at all hours, on any day and every holiday, where the simplest task was an urgent and immediate need. To friends and family, my life was truly glamourous and yet, for me, my life was closer to that loneliest of lives led by Holly Golightly, the misunderstood ingénue of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While my life was on the vanguard of the moment, I felt like an empty shell....

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Analysis: Full Assessment of PERI Economic Analysis of Medicare for All, Woolhandler, et al., PNHP

By Stephanie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.; David Himmelstein, M.D.; and Adam Gaffney, M.D., M.P.H.
November 30, 2018

The Economic Analysis of Medicare for All by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) team provides a robust and well-documented projection of the economic effects of a properly structured single payer health care reform. Its estimate that such reform would provide universal and comprehensive coverage without any increase in overall health expenditures is sound, and in keeping with older estimates from authoritative sources, such as the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office, as well as evidence on the costs of care in nations that have implemented single payer reforms. Indeed, even an estimate by the Koch brothers-funded Mercatus Institute concluded that a single payer reform would realize savings of $2 trillion over ten years.

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News: Upstate NYers medical debt mysteriously paid off, Bethany Bump, TimesUnion

Ithaca women turn $12,500 in donations into $1.5 million of debt relief

By Bethany Bump, Monday, December 3, 2018

For nearly 150 people around the Capital Region who've been hounded for years by debt collectors, the mail should have recently brought some good news. News that seemed too good to be true. If it came in a yellow envelope with a return address of Rye, New York from a group called "RIP Medical Debt," it wasn't. Too good to be true, that is.

"A lot of people get our letters and think they're too good to be true and throw them out," said Daniel Lempert, a spokesman for RIP Medical Debt. "That's why we try to get the word out.

Thanks to a fundraising campaign by a group out of the Finger Lakes, the medical debt of some 1,284 people around upstate New York totaling $1.5 million has been forgiven. In the Capital Region, 146 people had $298,507 worth of old debt wiped out — all because Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, of Ithaca, got the idea to raise money for a good cause.

The women are members of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health, which advocates for universal health coverage through passage of the New York Health Act. The pair were looking to do some good, and maybe make a political statement at the same time…

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View: Exciting Time for Single-payer Healthcare Advocates, Madeline Zevon, Examiner

By Madeline Zevon, December 2, 2018

In New York State, a Blue Wave. Democrats won 40 of the 63 NY Senate seats. The win is momentous: Since WW II, due to gerrymandering and side deals with renegade Democrats, Republicans have controlled the NY Senate for 65 of 68 years. The new senate leader will be Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first woman to head a chamber in NY history.

This is good news for the New York Health Act, legislation that will bring universal, comprehensive, affordable healthcare to every New Yorker. The bill has repeatedly and overwhelmingly passed the state assembly, with 31 senate co-signers last spring. Many newly elected senators campaigned on NY Health, which, like traditional Medicare, is single-payer, and will save us billions — and stimulate our economy, creating 180,000 new jobs.

This good news has triggered rabid opposition from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and the propagandists they pay. Beware widely disseminated “alternative facts.”...

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #21, George Gross, 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 George Gross, November 26, 2018

My story actually is my wife Margaret’s story but we are so intertwined and our lives together so connected that I cannot tell her story without relating how it unfolded from both of our perspectives. It began, innocently enough, with two mistakes. First, only one of us got a flu shot: me. Margaret chose not to get one, thinking that she didn’t need it, largely because she travels to see family in a warmer climate. Then, we didn’t update our health insurance because we wanted to get a joint policy and thought that the enrollment period had passed. I will describe that mistake at the end. It is secondary to the crisis that I will tell now: the story of how Margaret almost lost her life.

It began so simply last February...

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Viewpoint: New hope for universal health care, Karen Rubin, The Island Now

By Karen Rubin, November 27, 2018

It’s been 100 years since the Spanish Flu pandemic infected 500 million people worldwide (one-third of the planet’s population) and killed as many as 50 million, including 675,000 Americans.

Health care should have improved since then. It has in many countries, but not necessarily in the U.S.

Here in the U.S., the 30 million people who have no insurance, the tens of millions more who are underinsured, and the likelihood, under Trump and the Republicans, of millions more not being able to afford to get treatment when illness first strikes, means that there could well be another massive epidemic.

Our health system is strangling under a combination of avarice, inefficiency and deliberate complexity. Americans pay more than any other industrialized nation – 17 percent of GDP, in fact, – with some of the poorest outcomes.

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Letter: Our CEO Wrong on 'Medicare for All', Weill Cornell Columbia Students, Business Insider

William Ford, Emilie George, Alex Irace, Rachel Madley, Graham Wehmeyer, and Michael Zingman,
Students at Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons,
Members of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) 
Nov. 26, 2018

In a recent article, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital CEO Dr. Steven Corwin commented on rising healthcare costs. He stated that "We do a lot of very expensive things...We have to figure out how to reduce our costs." In the same article, he stated that he opposes "Medicare for All," but that "We have to have universal coverage."

As medical students training at the institution Dr. Corwin leads, we agree: we do need it - and we need it urgently. Unlike Dr. Corwin, we, along with a growing number of hospital leaders, believe "Medicare for All" is the only solution for universal coverage and cost reduction.

Medicare for All is a universal, comprehensive single-payer system in which healthcare is financed by one public agency but privately delivered. It would cover all medically necessary services and eliminate co-pays, premiums, and deductibles, leading to improved financial security when individuals or families get sick. It would also give patients the freedom to choose their doctor.

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Letter: Jacobs must help end high health care costs, Patricia Meyer-Lee, Buffalo News

By Patricia Meyer-Lee, Tonawanda, November 26, 2018

In the coming new year, we are looking forward to swift passage of early voting in New York State, passage of the Victim’s Rights Act, guarantee of Women’s Reproductive Rights, and passage of the New York State Health Act.

As my representative I am asking Sen. Chris Jacobs to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats to bring much needed changes to our health care system. As the current chairperson of the health committee I’m certain he has a wealth of information to share his colleagues.

I have several friends who are currently uninsured due to affordability issues. I am 62 years old, retired and spending over $800 a month for health insurance. There is a $2,000 deductible with co-pays....

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LETTER: Critic of NY Health Act tells half the story, Dr. Gene Tinelli,

By Dr. Gene Tinelli, Nov 24, 2018

In a recent letter (Nov. 15,2018) Michael Kracker does harm to a bill that would save New York money. As the executive director of a business organization designed to preserve its heavy investment in the current system, he performs a sleight of hand. 

His hypocrisy is that he cites the RAND study's figure of $139 billion in progressive payroll taxes, which would pay for the bill, claiming that only 5 percent of New Yorkers are without insurance. But he doesn't say that New Yorkers with insurance, enduring high premiums and co-pays, are rationing their own health care at a cost of serious illness. Affordable care is unaffordable for most New Yorkers...

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Politics: Sponsors of NY Health Hopeful about 2019, Victor Porcelli, Gotham Gazette

By Victor Porcelli, Nov. 14, 2018

Though Governor Andrew Cuomo has not expressed support for instituting a single-payer health care system in New York, his fellow Democrats campaigned on the issue as they flipped control of the state Senate, landing all of state government into Democratic hands and providing a significant boost of optimism to the lead sponsors of the New York Health Act, which would create a government-administered single-payer health care system.

The bill has passed the Democrat-dominated state Assembly several times and all the members of Senate Democratic conference signed on as co-sponsors at the end of last legislative session in a unified show of support for the program heading into the election season.

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VIDEO: Universal Health Care Activists Disrupt Industry Execs, Tim Murphy, The Body

By Tim Murphy, November 16, 2018

Amid an early snowfall on Thursday, November 15, on the sidewalk before a Hilton Garden Inn outside Albany, New York State's capital, about 40 activists from the Campaign for New York Health, an organization advocating for single-payer health care in the state, protested a conference going on inside among executives from the state's various private insurers, which the New York Health Act (NYHA), the single-payer bill in question, would put out of business.

The activists wielded signs reading, "Honk If You Hate Your Health Insurance" and "Big Profits From Pain? $hame On You!"

The second part of the protest happened inside, where four of the activists -- including Brandon Cuicchi of ACT UP NY -- one by one disrupted a panel in which executives from the Business Council of New York State and the national drugmaker trade group PhRMA were arguing against single-payer, in keeping with an anti-single-payer campaign they have launched called The Realities of Single Payer Healthcare for New York.


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Article: Healthcare Activists Picket Troy Insurers Conference, Rachel Silberstein, TimesUnion

By Rachel Silberstein, November 15, 2018

A group of healthcare professionals, unions and activists who support a single-payer health plan for New York plan to picket the annual conference of the New York Health Plan Association (NYHPA), a trade association for the state’s health insurance companies, in Troy on Thursday.

NYHPA is a key member of the “Realities of Single Payer” coalition, an array of business interests dedicated to lobbying against the New York Health Act, which would create a single-payer healthcare system in the state.

The activists charge that “NYHPA and its corporate allies, including huge pharmaceutical companies, whose representatives will be speaking at the conference, are spreading deceptive information about this legislation in order to preserve a lucrative business model that denies care to millions.”

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Photos: Protests over health care, Paul Buckowski, Albany TimesUnion

Photos by Paul Buckowski, November 16, 2018


TROY -- Union members, activist groups and health care professionals took part in a protest Thursday calling for single-payer health care outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, where the New York Health Plan Association was holding a conference.

Protesters say the New York Health Plan Association is lobbying against the New York Health Act, which would create a single-payer system.

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ARTICLE: NYS Senate Democrats claim majority, Kenneth Lovett, Daily News

By Kenneth Lovett, Albany Bureau Chief, Nov 6, 2018

After years of attempts, the state Senate Democrats claimed clear control of the chamber, giving the party a clean sweep of state government for the first time in a decade.

The victory is also a historic one as it means Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will now become the first black woman—and the first woman, period—to lead a majority legislative conference.

She will now be one of the leaders negotiating the budget and key pieces of legislation with Gov. Cuomo....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #20, Deaglan McEachern, 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  Deaglan McEachern, November 12, 2018

I vividly remember that awful day. August 4th 2014. Lori and I had been married less than a year. She had recently quit her corporate finance job, gone back to school and started her own business. That day she woke up, turned to me, and said, “I can’t feel my arms and legs.” She was 28 years old.

There is no way to adequately describe the overwhelming fear, the piercing dread, that washes through you when the woman you love says something like that. I gathered her up and drove to the hospital Emergency Room. After admitting her on an outpatient basis, they wheeled her to the radiology department for an MRI. They directed me to the billing department.

We thought we had great insurance, just like we thought we were young and healthy, but they wanted $5,000. On the spot. In the moment we were most vulnerable, in the moment my wife’s health was most unclear, the system required $5,000....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #19, Alessandra Biaggi, 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 Alessandra Biaggi, October 22, 2018

I was fortunate enough to have grandparents who lived until their late eighties and nineties. But watching my grandparents age was both wonderful and difficult because, depending upon their socioeconomic status, their experience of aging was completely different. Differences in their economic status affected the care they were able to access and by extension, their quality of life.

My grandfather had 24-hour care in his home and he lived until the age of 97. However, my grandmothers both went to nursing homes where they weren’t being fed. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. Although the nursing homes put food in front of them, both of my grandmothers had suffered strokes and were unable to use their hands. And so it was only after several weeks that we were able to determine that they were quite literally starving. Luckily, my parents noticed that my grandmothers were losing a lot of weight and were able to move them out of nursing homes in upstate New York near Hyde Park and into nearby Bronx nursing homes, where being close to our family and receiving higher quality care allowed them to live much higher quality lives.

But my family’s experience just shows you that if you are able to be at home or to afford good care, you actually can extend the length and quality of your life....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #18, Else Fisher, 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 Else Fisher, October 15, 2018

Conditioning our Futures — My Dreams Derailed

“Pre-existing condition,” healthcare lingo for an illness you have prior to applying for health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 3 million (or 25%) of New Yorkers under age 65 have pre-existing conditions — which include pregnancy, diabetes, cancer (even if cured, cut out, or in remission), a history of substance abuse or addition, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, allergies, or any other condition an insurer might list.

You may not even know that you have such a condition. I certainly had no idea — until my after-college dreams were dashed, more than 55 years ago....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #12, Johanna Bard, 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 Johanna Bard, August 19, 2018

I miss my brother. A brilliant trial lawyer, working in the General Counsel’s office of a Fortune 100 company, Johnny was abruptly fired just before he turned sixty. I am, of course, biased about this tragic turn of events; just let me say that Johnny had argued (and prevailed) for his company multiple times before the Supreme Court (and many US Courts of Appeals) and the company’s judicial fortunes suffered after he left.

He took COBRA. It was jaw-droppingly expensive. He looked for a new job. Age discrimination is real. Prospective employers explained they couldn’t pay him what he was worth and they knew he’d jump ship if they offered what they could afford. Never mind that NYC is too expensive to be jobless and still pay rent. Johnny cut back on expenses, took Social Security early, began spending his savings — and then, after getting a physical, dropped his health insurance....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #10, Serena Castile, 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 Serena Castile, August 5, 2018

I am a medical student in New York City and I am 24 years old. I went into medicine out of an overwhelming desire to help others, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

Navigating our complex healthcare system has shown me that it often fails those who need it the most. Even for those who have health insurance, access and cost continue to be a problem, as seen from my own perspective as both a future physician and as a patient.

At the New York City teaching hospital where I work, there are actually separate buildings for patients with private and public health insurance, such as Medicaid and Medicare. Patients with private insurance are seen by faculty members, while those with public insurance are seen by a rotating cast of residents (doctors in training). Those without health insurance aren’t seen at all — or they’re seen and practiced on by medical students at the student-run clinic....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #9, Farris Thomas, This Is the Bronx

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

by Farris M. Thomas, Jr, July 29, 2018

My life changed forever on March 31st, 2009 when I was crossing the street and a speeding motorcycle hit me. The impact sent me flying 25 feet, breaking every bone on my right side from my clavicle to my toes.

I am grateful to modern medicine to be alive.

The trauma was catastrophic. Seven open fractures to my leg, nine broken ribs piercing my lungs, and broken clavicle. Several 14+ hour-long surgeries were necessary to rebuild the right side of my body.

Months of physical therapy and private nurses followed. I had to learn to walk again, to move my arms up and around, to feed and bathe myself. The vascular trauma to my legs was so extensive I have had 11-surgeries on my left leg, the most recent 8-months ago....

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