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LETTER: Bill would provide health care for everyone, Melanie O'Brien, Watertown Daily Times

One of the most persistent misconceptions about single-payer health care is that it will cost too much. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30 in 2013, we had no health insurance, a young son and made about $35,000 a year. It was only through the extraordinary generosity of family, friends and even strangers were we able to pay the tens of thousands of dollars that it cost to treat him, not including the lost wages from months of being unable to work or the regular CAT scans, blood work and doctors visits he has needed for the last several years to make sure he stays cancer-free. Even after we were finally able to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act, his tests and visits have not always been covered.

How many GoFundMe pages for medical treatment have you shared on Facebook or seen pop up in your feed? Each month, I see a new flier posted around town advertising a fundraising dinner for someone’s medical expenses ...

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LETTER: Let's fight for NY Health Act, Naomi Marcus, Riverdale Press

On June 5, I joined hundreds of people from all over New York State to lobby in Albany in support of the New York Health Act. 

The New York Health Act passed the Assembly for the fourth year in a row on June 14, and would provide a comprehensive system of access to health insurance for all New York state residents....

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #5, Walter Carpenter, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series in which Bronx writers share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Walter Carpenter

I almost died eleven years ago. Initially, I had a job with insurance, but illness cost me my job. Losing my job cost me my insurance. Not being able to afford healthcare almost killed me. My story is that of a vicious, like-threatening, cycle. I’ve learned that hundreds of thousands of Americans have a similar story.

A few years earlier, I had my first episode of biliary duct obstruction and didn’t get so sick. My insurance company paid $1,500 for a cholecystectomy and, after weeks of recovery, I was almost back to normal, living my life and doing my job, but now my job didn’t include health insurance. Not all jobs do, even some that recruit you with promises of health insurance....

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Healthcare in America (#6 in series), This Is the Bronx, Alice Love

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 Alice Love

I am a registered nurse working in a doctor’s office at a major NYC medical center. Here is an example of how much time “prior-authorization” costs in a busy office. I am trained to treat patients and certified to do procedures on patients. But, if the best course of treatment is not on the “formulary” of an insurance company (which works with still another company to manage its medication approvals), I spend hours dealing with a convoluted system.

Here is what I recently needed to do to get a patient the best care possible ....

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Denying care to those with preexisting conditions, Sunny Asalam, Finger Lakes Times

The Trump administration will no longer oppose discrimination by health insurance companies against those with preexisting medical conditions, which is particularly cruel and deadly. This places 133 million Americans' ability to buy health insurance at risk.

The President seems intent on harming the population because he abhors his predecessor or is intent on increasing health insurance company profits that are soaring anyway. What makes even less sense is that this hands his political opponents a potentially thunderous win before important fall elections.

Imagine a relative of yours comes to my clinic for addiction or pain treatment. The insurance company realizes they had a previous diagnosis like pregnancy when they applied for the insurance and cancels the policy. They're found dead from injecting heroin after they can't afford to pay for treatment.

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Americans could learn from Canadian health care, Richard Clements (letter), Buffalo News

Published June 13, 2018

Sunday’s front page story, “New tariffs spark fears among local business owners,” included thoughtful, rational comments for and against Trumps’s stiff tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, but one quote from Craig Speers of the AFL-CIO stands out as candidate for bone-headed comment of the year! He called out “predatory trade practices” by Canada and European Union that supposedly “destroyed large parts of the American steel and aluminum manufacturing industries.”

As an example he points to Canada’s national health care system as unfair since “… the Canadian government frees its metals industries from a heavy cost burden that their American competitors have to bear.”

What?

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Letter: Health insurance needs an overhaul, Dr. Sunny Aslam, Auburn Citizen

The Trump administration will no longer oppose discrimination by health insurance companies against those with pre-existing medical conditions, which is particularly cruel and deadly. Your online article points out 133 million Americans ability to buy or afford health insurance will be at risk if they are successful (6/8/18, "Trump's DOJ labels the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, placing healthcare for 133 million at risk"). The president seems intent on harming the population and moving us backward, because he abhors his predecessor, or is intent on increasing health insurance company profits that are soaring anyway. What makes even less sense, is this hands his political opponents a potentially thunderous win before important fall elections.

 

Health insurance premiums could increase by an average of 24 percent next year if approved by state regulators. Insurance companies rightfully blame President Trump’s repeal of the individual mandate in his recent tax cut resulting in millions less covered by insurance, most of whom are younger and healthier. It’s more expensive to take care of an older, sicker population for insurance companies. In order to accommodate their profits, large bureaucracy and huge executive salaries, insurance companies raise premiums.

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ARTICLE: Town of Saugerties urges state lawmakers to pass New York Health Act, Daily Freeman

Several town residents speaking at a recent board meeting said the state action would reduce costs for Medicare patients.

“If you’re on traditional Medicare, you spend hundreds of dollars a month on Part B Medigap insurance and Part D pharmaceutical,” Janet Asiain said. “If you’re on the Advantage plan, you have co-pays, deductibles and all kinds of out-of-pocket expenses, which really mount up.”

Tamara Schuppin said traditional health insurance plans have deductibles that can drain bank accounts before benefits kick in.

“It would affect me in a big way if I had health care that actually covered my needs,” she said. “I currently have a plan with a $10,500 deductible, and I pay several hundred dollars for that every month. It’s not health care. It’s in case I have a catastrophe to keep ... from having our savings wiped out.”

David Minch said the state action would help improve New York’s business climate.

“It would be a magnet for New York state to have people coming back in, as businesses could be freed up of the health care [insurance] that they have to supply,” he said.

Read the full article here.

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Support New York Health Act, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

On Tuesday, June 5, several Riverdale residents joined more than 500 supporters of the New York Health Act to demonstrate in Albany for its passage.

From every corner of the state, they traveled by bus, car, and even bicycle all the way from Brooklyn, in support of the bill.

They were among doctors, nurses, health care professionals, business owners, representatives of organized labor, and ordinary citizens who are convinced that this plan would benefit all New Yorkers regardless of wealth, income, age, immigration or health status.

Supported by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the bill is likely to clear the Assembly overwhelmingly, perhaps by the time The Riverdale Presshits your mailbox.

The push for the New York Health Act comes when it seems most necessary, Republicans in the U.S. Congress are threatening cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Complete Health Improvement Program — or CHIP — to fund the deficits caused by their tax bill.

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Do or Die: A Day in Albany Advocating for Statewide Healthcare, Donathan Salkaln, Now Chelsea

UPDATE:On Thurs., June 14th, in Albany, NY, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the passageofa universal single-payer health plan that would provide comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers.

BY DONATHAN SALKALN | How bad has our health care system become? A 25-year-old man is sideswiped by a truck on a busy Downtown street. The ambulance brings him to an East Side emergency room. “Broken leg, shattered bone sticking out of skin,” recalled Dr. Danny Lugassy. “He’s pulling out IVs, and pushing away nurses. I ask him, ‘What are you doing?’ He begs me, ‘Please do the bare minimum possible. I just started a job, but my health care won’t start until next month!’ ”

On June 5, two buses loaded with advocates of single-payer healthcare, mostly from Chelsea, Hells Kitchen, and Greenwich Village, left W. 33rd St. near Penn Station and headed to the state capitol to rally and lobby with others for single-payer healthcare. The event was organized by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) in tandem with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), 1199 SEIU, and over 100 labor and community organizations in the Campaign for New York Health. The day included pre-arranged individual office meetings with state senators, to voice healthcare concerns.

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Insurance wastes time and lives, letter by Steven Rabinowitz, Riverdale Press

As part of the ongoing discussion on health care policy, it has been noted that health insurance today wastes time, resources — and lives. It costs us far more than simply dollars for premiums and deductibles, and creates harm.

Here is how that applies to an issue much in the news today — the opioid crisis.

I recently retired after 30 years of service with the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the last 12 of those serving as director of downstate field operations, overseeing funding, program deliverables, regulatory compliance, and service development for New York City and Long Island.

In that role, I oversaw the work of more than 200 provider agencies, large and small, and was responsible for more than $200 million in state aid funding.

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LETTER: Americans could learn from Canadian health care, Richard Clements, The Buffalo News

"Sunday’s front page story, “New tariffs spark fears among local business owners,” included thoughtful, rational comments for and against Trumps’s stiff tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, but one quote from Craig Speers of the AFL-CIO stands out as candidate for bone-headed comment of the year! He called out “predatory trade practices” by Canada and European Union that supposedly “destroyed large parts of the American steel and aluminum manufacturing industries.”

As an example he points to Canada’s national health care system as unfair since “… the Canadian government frees its metals industries from a heavy cost burden that their American competitors have to bear.”

What?

Canada is unfair because it provides universal healthcare to a healthier population, without potential personal bankruptcy due to medical expenses, at a fraction of our costs?

Would you propose that Canadians repeal a domestic program that has functioned with overwhelming public support for 50 years?

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Do you really believe they should accept the dysfunctional mess of our health care “system”?

Read the full letter at the Buffalo News here.

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New Yorkers tired of healthcare issues converge on Albany — Tom Bulger, Finger Lakes Times

New Yorkers who are tired of healthcare issues converge on Albany

By Tom Bulgar

To the Editor:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr)

Yesterday (June 5), buses from all over the state headed to Albany, carrying New Yorkers tired of being the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare, tired of paying twice as much as any other nation for its healthcare, tired of being ranked 37th by the World Health Organization for quality of care.

NYhcampaign.org is determined to end the nightmare. If you were unable to go to Albany, please phone Sen. Helming.

The state’s House has passed the New York Health Act, which now has 31 senators cosponsoring it. I don’t know if Sen. Helming is one of the cosponsors. A powerful line from New York’s own Paul Simon is, “‘Save the life of my child,’ cried the desperate mother.” As a mother herself I hope our Senator empathizes with mothers whose children are endangered by unaffordable healthcare.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #2, Sonya Haifa, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series for our writers to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Sonya Haifa

I am living proof that even the hardest-working, most educated people can lose it all in a matter of months — I went from earning $225K a year to less than $21,000 now. After losing my 60-hour-a-week, high-pressure corporate communications job in New York and then having COBRA expire, I signed up on the Affordable Care Exchange, paying for my disabled husband’s and my coverage with savings.

Sadly, neither the psychiatrist nor the psychologist I saw regularly for chronic depression was covered under any of the Exchange plans, so we paid out of pocket. In my early 50s, I was having little success in finding another job, which exacerbated my depression. Then my husband was diagnosed with PTSD after being violently assaulted, so he too was seeing a psychologist on a weekly basis.

In 2016, our healthcare bills exceeded $40,000. It so quickly drained our savings that we had to sell our NYC home and relocate to a cheaper location in the Hudson Valley. It is terrifying to know that losing your job and needing critical health services can rapidly drain all the financial resources you’ve worked years to accrue. Having health insurance tied to employment makes losing a job not only scary, but potentially life-threatening.

 

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New York needs health act for comprehensive care, Poughkeepsie Journal letter, Peter Van Aken

Letter by Peter Van Aken

May 22, 2018

In spite of recent presidential and secretary of health and human services speeches about plans to bring about a lowering of prescription drug costs, the stranglehold of unreasonable medical fees, by the insurance companies, still continues — and makes essential medical care a problem for the vast majority of New Yorkers.

We need the New York Health Act, a bill in the New York State Legislature Senate, (S4840A) to be passed and enacted.

Right now, the Insurance companies are in charge of our personal health care- giving us high premiums, high deductibles, and co-pays. The New York Health Act promises universal comprehensive health care for all, and covers treatment by primary doctors, specialists, hospitalization, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drugs, lab tests and medical supplies — this legislation would create coverage that would be even more comprehensive than commercial insurance health plans- and it is calculated that it would save 45 billion dollars a year — $2,200 for each New Yorker.

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OP-ED: Universal health care in NYS would save money and lives, Madeline Zevon, Journal News

How would it be possible to have more comprehensive health care coverage, including every New Yorker, and save $45 billion a year? It might sound impossible, but that is just what the New York Health Act, currently before the state Legislature, would do. Ninety-eight percent of New Yorkers would save an average of $2,200 a year. In the last legislative session, the bill passed 94-46 in the Assembly and had 31 co-sponsors in the state Senate, just one senator away from a majority.  

With the passage of the New York Health Act, all residents of New York would have comprehensive coverage including primary, preventive, specialists, hospital, mental health, substance abuse treatment, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drugs, and medical supplies. The coverage would be more comprehensive than commercial health plans. There would be no co-pays, deductibles or premiums.

Read the full op-ed at the Journal News here.

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The Chronogram: Can New York Pull Off Single-Payer Healthcare?

The US Healthcare System is Broken. New York Could Lead the Way to Fixing It.

click to enlarge

The New York Health Act proposes single-payer healthcare which would do away with the private insurance companies.

About 10 years ago, when she was 44, Eve Magdalengoitia had a hunch that something was wrong. She was experiencing concerning symptoms of the lady sort, and her doctor said it's probably nothing, but let's get you an MRI to be sure. At the time, she was working as a consultant from her home base in Poughkeepsie, writing grants and fundraising for nonprofits; her husband was a self-employed artist. They didn't have health insurance. The expense of an MRI (ballpark $2,600) was so daunting that Magdalengoitia convinced herself that her symptoms were nothing to worry about. She was young and healthy, wasn't she?

Read the full article here.

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LETTER: Myths, misinformation and facts: NY Health, Jack Carney, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

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LETTER: New York needs health act for comprehensive care, Peter Van Aken, Poughkeepsie Journal

In spite of recent presidential and secretary of health and human services speeches about plans to bring about a lowering of prescription drug costs, the stranglehold of unreasonable medical fees, by the insurance companies, still continues — and makes essential medical care a problem for the vast majority of New Yorkers.

We need the New York Health Act, a bill in the New York State Legislature Senate, (S4840A) to be passed and enacted.

Right now, the Insurance companies are in charge of our personal health care- giving us high premiums, high deductibles, and co-pays. The New York Health Act promises universal comprehensive health care for all, and covers treatment by primary doctors, specialists, hospitalization, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drugs, lab tests and medical supplies — this legislation would create coverage that would be even more comprehensive than commercial insurance health plans- and it is calculated that it would save 45 billion dollars a year — $2,200 for each New Yorker.

Read the rest of the letter here.

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SERIES: Healthcare in America #1, Lauren Grace, This is the Bronx

At age 29, with a blood clot at the base of my brain, I was hospitalized for three days in 2015. I had to be constantly monitored for strokes or seizures so, do to a lack of available hospital beds, this meant I was in the ICU for three straight days. 

I initially went to the ER with what I thought was an exceptionally awful, multi-day migraine. When the ER doctor ran into my curtained off area to ask if I had hit my head (I hadn’t) because the CT Scan demonstrated bleeding, I was terrified. I had to be transported by ambulance to a larger hospital where an MRI could be done on Saturday afternoon. Nothing like this had ever happened to me or my husband before, so neither of us – in all the panic – thought to call my insurance company to obtain pre-authorization for all of the medical services I would need. We didn’t know how much would be needed until it was happening!

Since we did not call, and since I had a Blue Cross Blue Shield high-deductible plan, many additional costs were passed on to me, and I owed far more than my already high deductible of $6,000. After leaving the hospital, I had to continue to take expensive medications to help break down the clot. Though I was directed to start this treatment the day I was discharged, the hospital had not yet submitted its bills to BCBS; without these, as far as the insurance company was concerned, I had not yet met my deductible. I was left with no choice about paying hundreds of out-of-pocket dollars for my medications, on top of my hospital bills.

Read the full story at This is the Bronx here.

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LETTER: Get New York Health Act passed, Richard Spencer, Auburn Citizen

I noticed Andrew Dennison, in his recent letter to the editor, does not cite Canadians losing their home or declaring bankruptcies because of the high cost of medical treatment. Instead, he repeats the often-anecdotal stories of long waiting times often forcing Canadians to come to the states for medical treatments. Actually, most Canadians are tourists encountering medical problems. Mr. Dennison argues against single payer because the Canadian program does not cover prescriptions, dental care and eye care. Apparently, he is ignorant that the New York Health Act covers these items and much more.

Read the rest of the letter at the Auburn Citizen here.

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LETTER: Health coverage can be improved, Judith Esterquest, Auburn Citizen

Waiting lists? If single-payer caused wait times, our Medicare recipients would wait. Fact: They don’t. Neither will NY Health. About Canadians coming to the US? Fact: Peer-reviewed research concludes that very few Canadians come to the US for care on their own nickel — unlike the 750K Americans who seek care outside the US every year.

But taxes, taxes! The typical Cayuga family (income under $60K/year) will pay $670 per year in NY Health payroll taxes; their employer(s) will pay $2,680. This $670 eliminates ALL of what you pay now for your family: no premiums, co-pays, deductibles, out-of-network charges, and no payments for prescriptions, hearing aids, dentistry, etc. NY Health eliminates all risk of medical bankruptcy and financial obstacles to getting the care you need — 98 percent of New Yorkers will pay less than they pay now.

Read the full letter at the Auburn Citizen here.

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ARTICLE: Seeking broader support for NY Health Act, Wellsville Daily Reporter

Susan Beckley, a former medical office manager and medical billing specialist who is presently an administrator for four small businesses, explained how the NYHA will affect the people, businesses, doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes; and the financial advantages for local municipalities and school districts at a May 1 presentation organized by Yates Progressives.

Beckley, a Tompkins County resident, is seeking support to campaign for election to New York Senate. Using Yates County data, Beckley showed how local property taxes would be reduced significantly once the burden of Medicaid and municipal and school health insurance programs are relieved.

Read the rest of the article here.

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LETTER: We need to protect health care, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

Baby Boomers are not entitled to $2 trillion. They will explode the deficit, complained lame-duck Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on a recent “Meet the Press” because “Baby Boomers are retiring.”

For those of us in Riverdale who are enjoying (or anticipating) the benefits of Medicare, we need to recognize that the Congressional juggernaut that couldn’t fully repeal Obamacare last summer has now turned its sights to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Seema Verma, President Trump’s head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is urging states to add a work requirement to Medicaid, even as states across the country “cut costs” by reducing benefits — changing prescription drug protocols, increasing “prior authorization” requirements, delaying and denying life-saving therapies.

Read the full letter here.

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LETTER: It's time to adopt NY Health Act, David Knapp, Riverdale Press

Welfare for slackers. Medicaid and Medicare aren’t health care, but entitlements, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Now that his huge tax cut for billionaires and corporations has passed, exploding our deficit, Ryan wants to save money on the backs of the old, the poor, the sick, the disabled — and children —  by cutting benefits to Medicare and Medicaid (and then Social Security).

Medicare is our most trusted health care program. It’s not as comprehensive or affordable as it could be, but it’s lots better than most people have before they turn 65. Its public health effects are remarkable — although the United States spends twice as much as other countries, our health metrics are terrible, except for those who have been on Medicare for 15 to 20 years.

Universal health care creates healthy populations, even among the very old. And while private insurance spends 15 to 20 percent of every premium dollar on profits, marketing, executive salaries and huge bureaucracies whose jobs are to protect profits, not health, traditional Medicare spends 1.8 percent on overhead.

Why so low? Because its single-payer approach seeks no profits, and doesn’t need huge bureaucracies designed to ensure profits by denying care.

Read the full letter here.

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LETTER: Support Healthcare Reform Here in New York State, Dr. Marianna Kaufman, Ithaca Times

In recent decades our US healthcare system has become a money-making operation for corporate profiteers in the guise of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

I have been a practicing physician for years in Syracuse, and now in Tompkins County. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time dealing with insurance company obstruction. At a whim, insurance will deny coverage of previously-covered medications, or deny preventive visits. Hours of office time that could be better spent on patients goes to phone calls and paperwork. Patients who do not qualify for assistance often go without medications they need, or delay getting exams and diagnostic tests that could detect diseases like cancer in the earliest stages.

How can we, as a society, continue to dictate who gets to live a healthy, disease free life and who doesn’t?

Read the full letter here.

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OP-ED: NYSD 17 For Progress: Progressive Policies, Transparent Politics, King's County Politics

With so many consequential actions taking place in Albany and Washington, now is the time for engaged citizens to speak out about the issues that matter to them and to their communities.

New York Senate District 17 for Progress (NYSD 17 for Progress) was launched in 2016 by residents of State Senate District 17 (Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Borough Park, Sunset Park, Sheepshead Bay, Bensonhurst) to address key issues in our neighborhoods and state, and to directly engage our Senate representative, Simcha Felder. We felt that too many matters, such as affordable health care, criminal justice reform, voting reforms, and street safety, were not getting enough attention from the Senator or his staffers.

...

We hosted a public forum on the New York Health Act — a bill advocates say could provide quality health care to every New Yorker — but our state senator declined our invitation to attend. What’s more, he has never discussed the legislation publicly in any detail, even after we were joined by 25 other community organizationswho called on him to engage in a dialogue on the bill. And during his recent push for armed security guards in schools, we sent the Senator a series of questionsasking him to explain his position and share if he would be open to new gun regulations. Once again, he did not respond.

Read the full op-ed here.

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LETTER: State Legislature must pass NY Health Act, Sarah Outterson-Murphy, Oneonta Daily Star

It was heartbreaking to read this paper’s story about the woman who had to postpone her marriage to keep health insurance for her daughter’s birth. What kind of a nation are we if our friends and neighbors must make decisions like this to ensure health care?

In no other democratic nation in the world must citizens delay marriages to afford health care. Peer nations provide everyone health care as a matter of right — like firefighters and police and libraries. And people in those countries are healthier and live longer.

New Yorkers can do better. 

Read the rest of the letter here.

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LETTER: The time has come for single-payer healthcare, William Dornburgh, Oneonta Daily Star

Re: “Health insurance costs strain family resources.” That lead article in the April 2 Daily Star should surprise no one. The Affordable Care Act made promises of reduced health care costs that could not be kept. The ACA has increased premium costs to employers, employees, private payers and penalized by mandates both those who were not previously insured as well as the insurance industry. The Republican alternatives have not been any better.

Read the full letter here.

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LETTER: Akshar should read up on NYHA, James Siegrist, Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin

In Broome County, 64 percent of our property taxes pay for the county’s Medicaid contribution. With the New York Health Act (NYHA), this would go away. Another 20 percent could be subtracted from the county budget for the health insurance for all current and retired county employees — fire, police, library, school, etc. — paid for by county taxpayers who often have little or no health insurance.

NYHA would shave off $71 billion of New York’s $280 billion health care tab this year, which will inevitably be more next year. As Mr. Wolcott wrote, “one-third of our premium dollars are wasted on private insurers’ billing, marketing and salaries,” never mind on all the corporate mergers and takeovers.

Read the full letter here.

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