With about a month left in New York State’s 2015 Legislative Session, leaders and members of the Campaign for New York Health have launched their final push to assure a floor vote on the “New York Health Act” (S.3525/A.5062, Perkins-Gottfried.) The Act would create a fully-public universal health care program providing comprehensive insurance coverage for all New York residents.
The Campaign is feeling cautiously upbeat after their successful annual Albany advocacy day in early May when it was announced that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) had promised to allow a floor vote. On that day, 300 New Yorkers visited all 80 sponsors of the bill in the Assembly to thank them for their support and urge it be voted upon. It is likely to move to the floor by early June, prior to the final two weeks of the session when other “must-pass” bills will be taken up and negotiated out. The bill is not expected to be considered in Senate this year.
Organizations who have endorsed the Act are being asked to submit legislative memos on the bill. Individuals who support it are being asked to either submit a postcard to Speaker Heastie or sign an online petition to him. Meetings and press events are also being scheduled with selected Assemblymembers around the state, to begin to educate local media and the public about how the Act would benefit patients and their families, workers and their employers, health care professionals and institutions, communities and local governments. OpEds are also being prepared for placement in newspapers, and grassroots social media networks activated. An independent economic study released by the Campaign in March estimated $45 billion net savings to New Yorkers annually under the Act.
If the Assembly votes in favor of the Act, it will make a significant political statement on the direction of health care reform in New York. While New York has done very well enrolling uninsured people in new coverage plans available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – over 2.1 million as of February – New York Health proponents say “We can do more and better.” Under the ACA, states are eligible to pursue new ways to move toward fully universal health care programs beginning in 2017, which will require special waivers from the federal government. The Assembly last passed a former version of the bill back in 1992.
UPDATE: The New York State Assembly passed the New York Health Act on May 27. The vote was 92 in favor to 52 opposed. The AP story on the debate and vote provides a good summary. Here’s a listing of the vote count.