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Collins announces candidacy for State Senate 46th district seat, The Recorder

Jeff Collins, of Woodstock, announced last week his plans to run as a Democrat for the New York State Senate 46th district.

The district includes parts of Ulster, Albany and Schenectady counties, as well as the entirety of Greene and Montgomery counties. The seat is currently held by Republican Sen. George Amedore.

“I believe in universal healthcare,” Collins said. “To me, healthcare is a right, not a privilege given only to those who can afford high premiums and high deductibles.”

Collins noted that the state Assembly overwhelmingly passed the New York Health Act, which had the potential to ensure universal healthcare for all residents. However, the Senate did not bring the bill up for a vote.

“If I am elected, I will push to get the New York Health Act passed by the Senate and enacted as soon as possible,” he stated in the release.

Read the full article at The Recorder here.

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LETTER: Support candidates who endorse Medicare for all, Michael Kaufman, Oneonta Daily Star

For the first time, candidates running for U.S. Congress in our area (District 19) have clearly endorsed Medicare for all. Four of the six Democratic candidates who plan to be on the ballot in the June 26 primary —  Jeff Beals, Dave Clegg, Brian Flynn and Gareth Rhodes — have endorsed a single-payer health insurance plan: the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676. (New York’s 19th Congressional District includes Delaware, Otsego, and Sullivan counties and runs east to New England.)

This plan provides public health insurance (including vision and dental) for everyone — with no premiums, co-pays or deductibles. As in the many other countries with a single-payer system, we would be able to afford this great coverage by drastically cutting the overhead that private insurers charge (17 to 20 percent compared with the 2 to 5 percent that Medicare pays) and by eliminating the inefficiencies of having many competing insurers. Everyone would be covered by a single insurer (Medicare), and could choose almost any health care provider.

Momentum is building for single-payer. The number of Congressional co-sponsors of H.R. 676 has swelled to 121 and a similar bill in the Senate now has 17 co-sponsors. A New York State version of single-payer, the NY Health Act, has passed the Assembly multiple times and is only one vote short in the state Senate.

Read the full letter at the Daily Star here.

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LETTER: Support New York Health Act to benefit all residents, Dominica Quackenbush, Poughkeepsie Journal

Talk about wasting money. Over decades, my employer and I paid well over $300,000 in premiums for my Empire Blue Cross, Blue Shield (BCBS) employee health insurance plan. I hardly ever went to the doctor for 30 of those years. Now that I have chronic health conditions, I am paying $14,000 to $17,000 per year in out-of-pocket expenses for treatments my insurance won’t cover because they claim that chronic conditions are not something they will pay for. What is the reason for having health insurance, if you can’t turn to insurance companies for help when you need it? It may be legal; but, it’s unethical.

Read the full letter at the Poughkeepsie Journal here.

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LETTER: Say yes to health act, Valerie Kaufman, Riverdale Press

As of this writing, Republicans have agreed to give up the individual mandate for affordable care, which the Congressional Budget Office has said would deprive 13 million people of health care.

Says Paul Ryan, “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.”

In contrast, the New York Health Act — so close to passing in the state legislature — would provide universal comprehensive health coverage, including primary, preventive, specialists, hospital, mental health, reproductive health, dental, vision, prescription drugs, lab tests and medical supplies. We will be free to choose our doctors, instead of those within insurance networks.

The bill has been vetted by experts in health care management and has been shown to be affordable.

Tell your state legislators to vote “yes” on the New York Health Act.

Read the letter at the Riverdale Press here.

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LETTER: Let me tell you about a great woman named Catherine Wolf, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

Catherine Wolf, whose opinion piece is republished below, died on Wednesday, Feb. 7, a few weeks after this piece appeared.

She was thrilled to see it in print because it supports the necessity for the New York Health Act, legislation she hoped would not only prolong her life and that of other ALS victims, but would also ensure health care as a right for all her fellow state residents.

The particular story here is one of many battles she waged to accommodate the ravages of a disease from which she suffered for more than 21 years. ALS left her unable to talk, walk or eat without a feeding tube. She breathed only with the help of an implanted heart ventilator. 

Though the immediate cause of her death was sepsis that did too much damage to her body, the medication denial she describes would have left her unable to function as she had been: With the spirit that became an inspiration to all who knew her and read her words.

She would want her readers to hear once more about the New York Health Act which, because it covers prescription drugs, would have authorized the medication she needed without regard to profits for big pharma or insurance companies, and would allow doctors to practice medicine unimpeded by excess paperwork.

Read the full letter at the Riverdale Press here.

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LETTER: Single-payer plan puts people ahead of profit, Kevin P. Reilly, Albany Times-Union

I again enjoyed another letter from Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State ("Single-payer system would be utter disaster," Feb. 7). She is surely rivaling the Brothers Grimm in the production of fairy tales.

Her prior entertaining story told of how the state's economy would erode if the minimum wage were raised even a nickel. Unemployment would rise and production would flatten.

With a mountain of statistical evidence, her latest effort explains how a single-payer health care system would be a "disaster." Her plot has holes, however, in that she doesn't reveal why dozens of countries have abandoned the corporation-based system she touts, and why none of those nations has reverted to that profit-oriented mechanism.

She ignores the fact that decisions by health care providers in the United States are made with money in mind, rather than with people. Of course, primarily insurance companies would suffer if we join Europe and Canada in using a single-payer approach. It is this truth that surely drives Briccetti's creativity.

Read letter here at the Albany Times-Union.

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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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