As Fears of Winter COVID Surge Increase, Senator May Joins Syracuse Healthcare Workers and Community Members to Call on Legislative Leaders to Pass the New York Health Act in 2022

SYRACUSE, NY - On Friday, November 19 in front of the Syracuse State Office Building Syracuse supporters of the New York Health Act held a press conference calling on state lawmakers to pass the universal healthcare bill during the 2022 legislative session as part of New York’s COVID recovery. One of over a dozen statewide activities organized by Health Act supporters this week, the press conference featured speakers from the 1199SEIU, Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Syracuse Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Doula 4 a Queen, and Physicians for a National Health Program whose members shared healthcare stories and spoke to the urgency of passing the Health Act. 

The New York Health Act (A6058/S5474) will guarantee the right to quality healthcare to everyone in New York State by establishing a universal, single-payer program to cover all residents of New York State regardless of income, place of employment or immigration status. 

The New York Health Act is cosponsored by a majority of state Senators and Assemblymembers. According to an August 2021 Data for Progress survey of voters, 81% of voters want to see New York State make healthcare a right and 60% of voters support passing New York Health Act.

The New York Health Act will reduce the racial inequities in health outcomes by guaranteeing access to all medically necessary care, including preventative care and chronic disease management.  National studies have found that at least 1 in 3 COVID deaths and 40% of COVID infections are tied to lack of insurance.In Syracuse, African Americans have been hospitalized from COVID at almost 3Xs the rate of white residents due to higher rates of preventable disease. 

The Health Act is also needed to protect Central New Yorkers from medical debt. According to the Urban Institute, in Onondaga County 14%  of white residents have medical debt and 41% of residents in primarily people of color neighborhoods are impacted by medical debt.  

The New York Health Act will save lives by expanding access and reduce overall healthcare spending. Based on estimates on the economics of the legislation from the RAND Corporation, New York State will see at least $11 billion in annual savings compared to the current for-profit system. At least 90 percent of New Yorkers will pay less for improved coverage and access.

"Our healthcare system has been in crisis for a long time and the pandemic has only made it worse for so many of our residents. We can no longer ignore the urgent need to provide every New Yorker with access to comprehensive and preventative healthcare. I am proud to stand with advocates calling for the passage of the New York Health Act,” said State Senator Rachel May 

1199SEIU believes in universal health-care coverage for every New Yorker. Universal health care is a social-justice issue. The healthcare workers that we represent regularly see patients arriving in the emergency room with advanced diseases because they couldn’t get preventive care, and elderly people skimping on their medication. You can’t say you care about people if you don’t care about them staying alive,” said Tiffany Fotopoulos, Administrative Organizer, 1199SEIU 

“Everyone who needs health care insurance, deserves health care coverage. Full Stop! Access to healthcare is a human right! said Sequoia Kemp, RN, Doula 4 a Queen, Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center, and Village Birth International “The New York Health Act will ensure that babies will have the health coverage they need with no cost to the family, especially if the infant or mother becomes ill. It would allow mothers to have extended care during their postpartum recovery. Last but not least, the NY Health Act would increase access to health care for thousands of people who suffer from reproductive health issues such as fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS and so many other conditions that often go undiagnosed or untreated. Legislators should do everything in their power to improve the reproductive outcomes of all New Yorkers, especially Black women! On behalf of Doula 4 a Queen, Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center, and Village Birth International, I urge Carl Heastie and Andrea Cousins-Stewart to bring the NY Health Care Act to a vote and I urge the members of the NY state assembly and senate to pass the NY Health Act in the upcoming legislative session. You all have the power and ability to improve the health and lives of millions of New Yorkers, use it!” 

“As these times have proven, there is no wealth without health but together we can break down the barriers and attitudes that exist within an already hemorrhaging healthcare system. There is nothing about us without us and we will not rest until our elected officials pass the NY Health Act and fund Fair Pay for homecare workers so that care and a successful way of life for all is guaranteed for everyone across the board,” said Agnes McCray, New York Caring Majority and Board member ARISE

“We stand at the bring of an opportunity, to provide a remedy to inequity by passing the New York Health Act,” said Rev. Eric Jackson, President, Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse Our current system gives the best healthcare to those who have the most money while those facing poverty are denied. I urge our legislators to get behind this bill so that we can have a single-payer healthcare system, to take into consideration the totality of all your constituents. The time is not tomorrow, the time is now.”

“Everyday I try to offer care to patients who struggle with mental health issues and addiction. Everyday health insurance companies question the treatment I recommend and stand in the way of me offering the best, most prompt care. The New York Health Act has the votes. We need Democrats to pass this bill. My patients' lives depend on it.” Sunny Aslam, MD

"Passing universal healthcare will be liberating for all working people in New York. I know first hand the benefits of having union negotiated healthcare, but all workers deserve the same basic rights. Negotiated health benefits exacerbate inequality by leaving so many people behind. To help working families, Democrats need to pass the New York Health Act. Healthcare should be accessible by all, not used as a bargaining tool, " said Tammy Honeywell, Syracuse Democratic Socialists of America.

"As a small business Syracuse Cultural Workers strongly supports the New York Health Act. A comprehensive statewide healthcare system would reduce our costs, provide better coverage for all our employees and be an important step to a more just and sustainable future," said Andy Mager of Syracuse Cultural Workers.

“New Yorkers can’t wait any longer for universal healthcare,” said Campaign for New York Health Co-Director Ursula Rozum. “The private, for-profit insurance system has been deadly, especially for communities of color, immigrant New Yorkers and working class people who struggle to get the care we need on our current plans because they are too expensive. Our state legislators have the chance to make history by responding to the pandemic by passing universal quality affordable healthcare for everyone who lives or works in the state.” 


The Campaign for New York Health is a 501c4 statewide coalition dedicated to passing and implementing legislation for universal single-payer healthcare in New York State. CNYH brings 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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