Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), New York State has made tremendous strides in reducing the number of uninsured by well more than 2 million people, and insurance premiums have dropped by more than 50% (on average.) That’s all great news. However, we can do more …and better!
Starting in 2017, the ACA allows states to apply for federal waivers to move toward truly universal health care programs. Our neighbors in Vermont have been making moves in that direction since 2011, although that effort has unexpectedly stalled out for the time being, for various reasons internal to the state.
Here in New York, we have our own idea:
The “New York Health Act” (S.3525/A.5062, Perkins-Gottfried) would create a fully-public universal health care program covering all New Yorkers. In sum, it would provide comprehensive benefits with no out-of-pocket costs, with access to almost all health care providers across the state. It would be paid for by combining various federal health care funding streams (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, ACA, etc.) with sliding-scale assessments on employers’ payrolls, and new taxes on individuals’ non-wage/investment income, all going into one public trust fund. The program would be administered by a public entity, thereby eliminating the role of private insurers and their narrow provider networks in paying for and providing health care services. The Act has been endorsed by scores of unions, community groups, health professional associations, and faith-based organizations, along with a few political parties and local governmental bodies.
The Campaign for New York Health (CNYH) has been established to spearhead statewide advocacy for the New York Health Act. We at Metro are proud to be serving on its strategic planning committee, and participating on its Labor Support Task Force. You can find all kinds of information about the law and CNYH at their website. Be sure to take a particular look at a special independent study of the Act’s financing – it was commissioned by CNYH and conducted by Gerald Friedman, Chair of the Economics Dept. at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who’s a specialist in analyzing state-based universal health care programs.
Next Tuesday, May 5th, New Yorkers from all corners of the state will be converging on Albany to meet with Assemblymembers. We’ll be talking with them about the importance of New York moving ahead with a universal health care program, and how the New York Health Act provides a very good way to do that. CNYH’s goal is to have a floor vote on the bill before the end of this year’s legislative session in late June.
People can RSVP for FREE transportation here. There’s a special union-sponsored bus leaving from Bellevue Hospital, along with vans leaving from various neighborhoods across the boroughs. For those getting there on your own, click here for the day’s schedule and parking info.
Participants are asked to RSVP for the day here, regardless of your transportation needs, so that CNYH can make adequate preparations for the day.