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Activists beg Kensington's State Senator to support NY Health Act, The Patch

Kensington activists are begging their Democratic state senator, who typically caucuses with Republicans, to support the his party's universal health care act in Albany, which he has refused to do.

Community organizers wrote to State Senator Simcha Felder on Thursday to demand he declare his stance on the New York Health Act — which would provide single-payer healthcare to all New Yorkers — and join 31 Democrats in the senate who support the act.

Felder, who represents District 17, has refused to take a public position for about three years and the New York Health Act remains stuck in the state senate's Health committee, of which Felder is a member.

Felder has said repeatedly that he doesn't have enough information to make a decision.

Read the full article at The Patch.

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LETTER: Thanks for listening on single-payer health care, George Jolly, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Many thanks to the Adirondack Voters for Change for inviting us (New York Assemblyman Phil Steck, single-payer activist Ting Barrow and George Jolly, MD) to the Jan. 18 informational night concerning the New York Health Act.

The New York Health Act is a “single-payer” system of health care finance. Under a single-payer system, a single public agency is responsible for paying all necessary medical care. The only participation requirement is residency. There are no co-pays, no deductibles and no premiums. The system is financed by progressive taxes on payroll and on unearned income. Using tax brackets and rates proposed by Gerald Friedman, UMass economist, it is estimated that 98 percent of New Yorkers would pay less, taking into account premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. The New York Health program would replace Medicare and Medicaid (incorporating the current funding for those programs) and eliminate all commercial insurance, with universal coverage at least as good as that currently available to state workers. The NY Health program would negotiate pricing with manufacturers of drugs and medical devices.

Read the full letter at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

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LETTER: Health care must be a right in the US, Sarah Outterson-Murphy, The Oneonta Daily Star

Recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders held a health care town hall online. The Medicare for All event brought together doctors, nurse practitioners and business owners to testify about the need for health care for everyone. I learned the horrifying fact that nearly 40,000 people died in this country last year, just because they didn’t have health insurance and did not get the care they needed, like blood pressure medication or cancer testing.

Read the full letter at the Daily Star.

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LETTER: Support the New York Health Act, Sarah Outterson-Murphy, Walton Reporter

I agree with last week’s article on Medicaid that property taxes are a big burden on the county. But I was surprised that Chair Tina Mole did not mention one of the best possibilities for reducing our local Medicaid costs: the New York Health Act. This is a bill to cover healthcare for everyone in New York, like Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill would do nationally.

Read the full letter at the Walton Reporter.

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LETTER: The 3 Giants' Health Plan, Elizabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times

Before spending lots of time, effort and money developing a new health care “product,” Warren E. Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase should realize that using a market approach to health care has failed miserably in this country.

They should go with Mr. Buffett’s earlier assessment. He suggested that despite “limited knowledge,” he thought that single payer is probably the best system, adding: “We are such a rich country. In a sense, we can afford to do it.”

Instead of reinventing the wheel, they should consult a group of experts who understand the needs of patients and populations and who have for many years studied the public policies that can best fulfill these needs. Physicians for a National Health Program, on whose board I sit, would be glad to oblige.

Read the original letter at the New York Times

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LETTER: Health care is a state issue, too, Sunny Aslam, Auburn Press-Citizen

In New York, we have a chance to pass progressive reforms sought out by a majority of voters. Universal healthcare in the form of the New York Health Act has passed the Assembly for years and is one state Senate sponsor away from a majority. NYHA supporters need to flip a Republican seat to get the last sponsor needed for a majority. State Sens. DeFrancisco, Ritchie and Helming, all Republicans from central New York, have declined to support Medicare for all, with no plan of their own. If one of the congressional Democratic candidates would oppose them and win, all those who live in New York might have guaranteed health coverage.

Read the full letter at the Auburn Press-Citizen

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LETTER: Single payer health care could save the state billions, Howie Hawkins, Albany Times-Union

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last September that a state single-payer public health plan would be a "good idea." But he said nothing about it in his State of the State and budget messages.

A state "Medicare for All" system would save $2.7 billion to insure state employees, which would take a big bite out of the $4.4 billion deficit the state faces.

Read the full letter at the Albany Times-Union

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LETTER: To drive down the cost of care: stay healthy, Tony Del Plato, Finger Lakes Times

Universal health care is a really good idea, despite Mr. Robert VanKuren’s claim to the contrary (Letter to the Editor, Jan. 4). He says a Hoover Institute report “goes into a detailed analysis of the shortcomings of the single-payer approach.” I read the report. It does not mention single-payer health care at all. Perhaps Mr. VanKuren confused single payer with Obamacare.

Read the full letter at the Finger Lakes Times

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LETTER: Sen. Valesky has abandoned progressive values, Marthe Reed, Syracuse Post-Standard

In September of last year, Sen. Dave Valesky assured me of his commitment to the GENDA Act and of his willingness to sponsor the legislation in the New York Senate. Yet all efforts to follow-up fell on deaf ears: the GENDA Act never came to a vote.

Like the New York Health Act--which would provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New Yorker at significant savings and solve the city of Syracuse's retirement debt crisis--GENDA has been blocked in the state Senate because Valesky's Independent Democratic Conference caucuses with Republicans in the Senate, giving the GOP leadership, preventing any progressive legislation coming to a vote.

Read the full letter at the Syracuse Post-Standard

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LETTER: A secret about New York health, Madeline Zevon, The Riverdale Press

To the editor:

Many people are unaware of how close the state of New York came this past year to passing single-payer health care. 

In the last legislative session, the New York Health Act passed in the state Assembly 94-46, and in the state senate, it had 31 co-sponsors — just one vote short of a majority. Yet, little was reported. The New York Times covered the California single-payer bill, but I missed any mention of the New York health bill.

Read the full letter at The Riverdale Press.

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LETTER: Health care bureaucracy is killing us softly, slowly, Catherine Wolf, The Riverdale Press

I am writing this by raising my right eyebrow, which triggers a switch.

I have had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for 21 long years. It is an expensive disease, especially in my current condition: quadriplegic and ventilator dependent.

My prescriptions are filled through CVS Caremark. In the news recently is the proposed bid of CVS to buy Aetna. Since Aetna provides drugs for Medicare patients, this merger will make CVS-Aetna huge, making it more difficult for patients and doctors to get the drugs they need because profit will be the only goal.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Here’s my story.

Read the full letter at The Riverdale Press.

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LETTER: Universal healthcare is the key to improving NY's business climate, Howie Hawkins, Syracuse Post-Standard

Your Jan. 14 editorial ("CNY economy needs workforce training") cites a CenterState CEO survey of business leaders who said rising employee benefit costs were "the No. 1 pressure point for their businesses in 2017."

But your response seems to be call for state tax and spending cuts. That seems implied by your comment that the "state's tax climate also matters" and adding that the state faces a $4 billion deficit, plus additional lost revenue from federal changes to health care and tax policy, which is estimated to be over $2 billion.

Read the full letter at Syracuse Post-Standard.


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LETTER: Representatives need to put our needs first, Katherine Mario, Oneonta Daily Star

We all received such interesting political literature this past week:

Congressman John Faso, a Republican, weighed in on everything he holds dear — apple pie, veterans, and FEAR about our nation’s security. And state Sen. John Bonacic, (42nd District, a Republican), wrote us about his plan to lower taxes to every single being in his district!

Who do they think we are? Dumbbells? These men are both long-time Republicans who supported Trump.

Read the full letter on The Daily Star.

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LETTER: Healthcare, right from the source, Helen Krim, Riverdale Press

At a time when deficits in the newly approved U.S. Tax Act have already initiated cuts in Medicare to pay for its extravagance to the rich, the need for local initiatives to address health care is becoming more and more urgent.

Our state has legislation already written and already vetted by experts to give us back what the federal government is taking away. The bill is the New York Health Act — universal health care, paid for by a single payer, and it will cost 98 percent of New York residents less than they pay now.

Read the full letter at The Riverdale Press.

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LETTER: It's disheartening to see GOP attacking Medicaid, Richard Clements, The Buffalo News

Once again the Republicans are attacking Medicaid. One has to wonder why they're so focused on making life more difficult for the poorest and most helpless. Guidance just issued to the states would permit compelling work for eligibility for Medicaid, but the great majority of Medicaid recipients are either children, seniors in nursing homes, or people who are seriously disabled or already working at low-paying jobs. 

Personally, I am relatively unaffected but the casual ignorance and cruelty of this move disgusts me. Can anyone with human values and a shred of empathy actually agree that we need to make those who are already struggling to survive in this country face even more obstacles as we currently provide huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans? 

Read the full letter at The Buffalo News.

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LETTER: State Sens. George Amedore, John Bonacic should vote for the New York Health Act, Emilio D. Gironda, Jr., Kingston Daily Freeman

New Yorkers have historically shown fortitude standing against enemies, even as the British burned Kingston, our state’s first capital.

But far more dangerous to our state, with greater harm to our citizens, is the Republican looting of New York tax dollars: the recent federal tax act signed into law is nothing less than the nation’s largest heist. Removing the smokescreens, we can see clearly that the act actually works against good government and against cost-effective policies that will help all citizens, not just the wealthy special interests.

Read the full letter at the Daily Freeman.

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LETTER: NY Health Act would benefit us all, Barbara Dyskant, Olean Times Herald

To quote Dr. Martin Luther King: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

The proposed New York Health Act would provide medical, dental and vision care for all New Yorkers — please spread the word. I received a survey from state Sen. Catharine Young “to hear our voices,” including a question on NY Health, which passed the State Assembly and missed Senate passage by one vote. Before answering, PLEASE check all the facts, “pro” as well as “con.”

The survey’s wording leans toward Young’s position opposing the bill, citing costs.

Read the full letter at Olean Times Herald.

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LETTER: Please keep the health care promise, Deborah Schiavo, The Riverdale Press

With the new Republican federal tax bill, New Yorkers will lose out on SALT (the state and local tax deduction), and will lose out on Medicare because of sequestration, despite promises to Susan Collins.

New York hospitals already have begun rationing expensive Medicare patients, those with serious long-term illnesses. And because of the elimination of the Affordable Care Act mandate, 13 million Americans will lose their health care in the coming years because insurance companies will make affordable care unaffordable.

Read the full letter at The Riverdale Press.

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LETTER: Health Care An Important Issue, Bruce and Nikki Willard, Port Washington News

Thank you, Anton Media Group, for Steve Mosco’s editorial on health care—as you say, it is for good reason most Americans consider health care as The most important issue of 2017. Health care spending as a percentage of the GDP reached 17.9 percent in 2016. In comparison, corporate tax rates have hovered in the one to three percent of GDP range since 1970. While congress seems unable to come to grips with this and focuses on policies that will let us buy less insurance (increased personal risk)/pay more out of pocket, other developed nations are able to take care of their entire populations at far lower per capita cost and with better overall outcomes. The moral case for covering everyone in a health care system has received plenty of attention as an idea from “the left;” however, these statistics/comparisons suggest another reason for change.

Read the full letter at the Port Washington News.

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LETTER: Here's how we protect democracy in NY, Gioia Shebar, Middletown Times Herald-Record

Our current federal government is a Frankenstein monster constructed of very deadly ideas, and exceedingly nasty people. It tramples on big rich states like New York, trying to loot and destroy us. Of course – as deliberately destructive as the Trump gang is - they can only stomp on us if we lie down and allow it.

We should take a page from Gov. Jay Inslee’s book of governance. As soon as the Trump FCC decided to make big corporations a gift of our internet he immediately announced he would protect Washington state’s net neutrality - and he can. The bums in D.C. are hastily trying to pass laws to prevent states from protecting net neutrality and laws to stop states from passing single-payer health insurance on their own. Why? Because we can, fellow New Yorkers. And that would get Trump’s foot off our neck.

Read the full letter at the Times Herald-Record.

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Local group pushes single-payer healthcare in NY, Finger Lake Times

GENEVA — Those supporting an effort to get universal health care in New York — including members of a fledgling organization in Geneva — hope to convince state legislators of the need through the stories of their constituents.

Erika Wischmann is the director of a Geneva group canvassing neighborhoods to find people who want to talk about anything from high deductibles and co-pays to delaying treatment because of costs. Read the full story on Finger Lake Times

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LETTER: How about a focus on health?

As of this writing (on Nov. 30), we don’t know how the new U.S. Congressional tax bill will actually settle. But it seems mightily unfeasible for all but the wealthy. To give even more tax breaks to corporations and the rich, the Senate has decided to repeal the individual mandate.

The Republicans in the House already have taken away medical deductions, the one bit of help that families with huge medical expenses have. Both chambers have let the Children’s Health Insurance Program — especially helpful to the poor in the Bronx — lapse. 

Senators admit they will begin to chip away at Medicare and Medicaid — Americans of all ages will suffer.

So it’s time for New Yorkers to separate ourselves out from national policies and urge our state senators — Republicans and Democrats alike — to support the New York Health Act with all their might. It’s Medicare for all — and paid with progressive premiums to the state. 

Read the full letter at the Riverdale Press


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LETTER: Vote for NY Health Act, Lisa Currie, Manhasset Press

I am writing in response to your recent editorial about health care. Please remind your readers that the NY Assembly is only one vote short of passing The New York Health Actand that we need to ask Senator Elaine Philips for her support and Senator Kemp Hannon to release the bill for a vote. Thank you!

Read the full letter at the Manhasset Press

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Rockland, Westchester lawmakers push for New York Health Act's single-payer bill, The Journal News

HUDSON VALLEY — Rockland and Westchester lawmakers are backing universal health care movements in New York, despite Trump administration efforts to reduce government’s role in health care.

Rockland County’s Legislature voted recently to support state legislation seeking to provide universal government-run health care. It joined county legislatures in Westchester, Sullivan and Tompkins that previously voted to support the bill, according to New York State Nurses Association, a union representing 40,000 nurses statewide. Read the full story at The Journal News.

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Nurses Association commends the Rockland Legislature for unanimous support of New York Health Act, Rockland Times

ROCKLAND — What’s proven to be a minefield at the federal level is now being pushed in the New York statehouse.

Universal health care is on the agenda of many state lawmakers and Rockland County officials appear to be on board, unanimously passing a resolution in support of the New York Health Act. The New York Nurses Association issued a press release Wednesday commending the Rockland Legislature for their stance. County lawmakers in Sullivan, Tompkins and Westchester also have passed resolutions in support of the Health Act. Read the full story at Rockland County Times.


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LETTER: Support New York Health Act, Dr. Richard Weiskopf, Auburn Citizen

Under the Republican health care bill now being considered in the U.s. Senate, the number of uninsured would jump from 28 million to 49 million (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 27, 2017). About 28 million Americans now do not have health insurance.

More and more health policy leaders are advocating for a single payer national health insurance program that would cover every American. There are now studies (reported in the above mentioned Annals article) that show that lack of heath insurance correlates with poor health and increases mortality. Health care should be the right of all Americans, not just a privilege for those who can afford it.

Read the full letter at the Auburn Citizen

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Medicare For All New York, Manhasset Press

The NY Health Act: Improved Medicare for All New Yorkers is surprisingly close to bringing universal, comprehensive and cost-effective healthcare to New York State. At the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset Nov. 2 event at the Port Washington Library, the featured speaker, professor Martha Livingston, chair of the Dept. of Public Health at SUNY College at Old Westbury, explained that 23 states now have similar legislation pending.

In January 2017, Livingston explained, New York was 10 senators short of approving the plan. Today, the senate vote is even; only one senator more has to approve. Bills in New York and California are the closest to being enacted, Livingston said, perhaps as early as spring 2018. And a month ago Governor Cuomo voiced his support.

When League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset President Julie Meer Harnick introduced Dr. Judith Esterquest, Health Issues Chair of LWVPWM, and member LWV-NYS Health Issues Committee, at the Nov. 2 event at the Port Washington Public Library, Harnick praised Esterquest for spearheading the event and emphasized the league’s ability to adapt to members’ interests and convictions. The league is non-partisan and a stated goal is to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government.

Read more at the Manhasset Press here.

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LETTER: Revamp health care, Sen. Klein, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

Despite the fact that the recent off-year election shows how important health care is to Americans today, the Republicans in Congress are ignoring the pressing needs of voters. 

As of this writing, the House bill eliminates the medical deduction from federal taxes, depriving families (caring for the aging and chronically ill) of the one break they have. These are the heartless Washington Republicans who simply let CHIP lapse.

Read the full letter at the Riverdale Press

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League of Women Voters eyes potential Medicare changes across New York, The Island Now

LONG ISLAND — The New York Health Act: Improved Medicare for All New Yorkers is surprisingly close to bringing universal, comprehensive and cost-effective healthcare to New York State. At the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset Nov. 2 event at the Port Washington Library, the featured speaker, Prof. Martha Livingston, Chair of the Dept. of Public Health at SUNY College at Old Westbury, explained that 23 states now have similar legislation pending.

In January 2017, Livingston explained, New York was 10 senators short of approving the plan. Today, the senate vote is even; only one senator more has to approve. Bills in New York and California are the closest to being enacted, Livingston said, perhaps as early as spring 2018. And a month ago Governor Cuomo voiced his support. Read the full story at The Island Now.

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LETTER: Support for New York Health Act, Judy Jones, Binghamton Times and Sun-Bulletin

State Sen. O’Mara said The New York Health Act (NYHA AKA single payer) “would swamp the state budget – we can’t afford the taxes necessary to pay the annual $91 billion price tag.” State Sen. Seward said his “primary concern is the cost” and the “additional taxes displacing critical services.”

Had they carefully read the bill and its economic analysis, they would find that property taxes could drop significantly due to the elimination of the Medicaid mandate on counties and their health insurance expense. The cost for county and school district health insurance, paid for by our property taxes, could lower our property taxes substantially. In Tompkins County the savings from Medicaid mandate and county employee benefits alone is estimated at $22 million.

Read the full letter at the Binghamton Times and Sun-Bulletin here.

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