Author Archives: metrohealth_editor

NY Universal Health Care Advocates and Activist to Gather for 2017 Annual Health Care Justice Leadership Gala

Each fall, our members, supporters, friends, and allies come together at our Annual Gala to reflect on and applaud our shared accomplishments, and recommit to the work ahead.  We enjoy some food, drink, and fellowship with each other, hear some words of inspiration, and salute some very worthy individuals, unions, and community groups who’ve provided leadership in the fight for health care justice over the past year.  This year, our Annual Gala will be held on Monday evening, December 4th at District Council 1707 AFSCME, 420 West 45th Street in Manhattan.

20th Anniversary Champagne Toast

It’s an understatement to say that 2017 has proven to be a crucial year in the fight for health care justice here in the U.S.  We’ve all been very busy in various ways with the fight to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid, and family planning.  We’ve now all turned our attention to the new “tax giveaway” fight in Congress which, among other things, absolutely threatens funding for all federal health care programs, and the whole spectrum of social and domestic programs that millions of New Yorkers and our families rely on.

Because of all our hard work together over this year, we have much to celebrate!  The ACA still stands as the law of the land, Medicaid is still an entitlement, and Planned Parenthood is still in full operation.  None of this was expected when the new Congress and Trump administration took office in January, but we joined forces to fight back and have prevailed (so far.)

We’re delighted to announce our Gala honorees for their leadership for health care justice in 2017:

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• Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY-7), for her long-time political leadership in fighting against federal budget and tax bills that threaten health care, defending immigrant rights, and advocating for the needs of Puerto Rico.

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• 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, for their trade union leadership in deploying organizers in strategic congressional districts across our state to defend the ACA and Medicaid, and in fostering local coalitions in those regions.

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• NY-11 for Health Care, for their community leadership in mobilizing residents of Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn to speak out in favor of the ACA, Medicaid, family planning, Medicare, and Social Security.

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• Housing Works, for their community leadership in training scores of activists to undertake sit-ins and engage in civil disobedience at Capitol Hill offices in support of the ACA and Medicaid, and then supporting those who were arrested as they were put through the criminal justice system.

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Our Keynote Speaker will be Tim Foley, Director of SEIU’s Connecticut State Council, and former Political Director for the Committee of Interns and Residents, a national union of doctors and medical students in training based here in NYC.

We want everyone “in the house” to celebrate all we’ve done together this year.  You can make an RSVP here:  https://actionnetwork.org/events/2017-annual-health-care-justice-leadership-gala.  Simply bring your check to hand in at the door.  Our requested donation for individuals is $75 (more if you can, less if you can’t.)

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Please be as generous as you can.  Given all that we’ve done this year, our coffers have been significantly depleted, and we need to replenish them for the year ahead, which will be another epic one given our new political landscape.

You can also support our Annual Gala by using the donate button on the right-hand side here on this webpage.

Please also be sure to approach your own organization or union about their support for our gala.  We offer them the following opportunities:

• Host Committee membership
• Announcement in our Commemorative Journal/Program Book
• Group ticket discount
• Package deal for two or more of the above options

Please contact us directly for further information on any of the above support options: 646-527-6612; metrohealth@igc.org.

New York Health Care Activists Regroup After Successful (so far) 9-Month Campaign to “Save Our Health Care!”

It’s been a whirlwind of activities since the beginning of January as many groups and unions joined forces to stop moves in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), decimate Medicaid as we have known it for over a half a century, and cut-off funding for family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood. Nationally, Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the national umbrella campaign that pushed the ACA through Congress back in 2009-10, was revived to form a field operation out in the states, and the new “Protect Our Care” collaboration among national groups based in Washington, DC worked Capitol Hill and undertook messaging research.

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Here in New York, we helped to lead HCAN’s New York City Organizing Committee, and participated in HCAN’s New York State Network. Across the state, local coalitions were formed in strategic congressional districts to engage their local congressmember, inform their constituents about what was happening and mobilize them to take action, and help local media understand what was at stake for local communities.

Here in New York City, our focus was on the 11th District comprised of Staten Island and the southwest Brooklyn communities of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Ft. Hamilton, and Gravesend. Local grassroots groups came together as “NY-11 for Health Care”, building on collaboration they’ve been doing since 2009. On a citywide level, we organized events to respond to developments in Congress, and contribute to various National Days of Action. We also helped to resource a coalition of local physician groups (#nydocs) that formed to project the voices of medical professionals into the debate.

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Here’s the list of 2017 Organization and Union Partners in HCAN-NYC’s “Campaign to Save Our Health Care”:
• 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East*
• ACT UP New York
• Caring for US Indivisible
• Center for Independence of the Disabled-New York
• Center for Popular Democracy
• Children’s Defense Fund of New York
• Citizen Action of New York City
• Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU Healthcare**
• Communications Workers of America, District One, Local 1102*, Local 1109*, and Local 1180
• Community Service Society of New York
• District Council 37, AFSCME
• Doctors Council, SEIU Healthcare**
• Doctors for America, New York Chapter**
• El Centro del Inmigrante*
• Empire State Medical Association, Manhattan Central Medical Society**
• Fight Back Bay Ridge*
• Get Organized Brooklyn
• Greater NYC for Change
• Healthcare Education Project, 1199SEIU and Greater New York Hospital Association*
• Housing Works
• Make the Road New York*
• Medicare Rights Center
• Metro New York Health Care for All* **
• Move Forward Staten Island*
• National Physicians Alliance, New York Chapter**
• New York Immigration Coalition
• New York State Nurses Association*
• New York Statewide Senior Action Council
• Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Metro Chapter**
• Progressive Doctors**
• Project Hospitality*
• Radical Aging
• Raising Women’s Voices-New York
• Rise and Resist
• South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance*
• Staten Island Family Health Coalition*
• Staten Island for Change/OFA*
• Staten Island Peace Action*
• Staten Island Women Who March*
• Strong Economy for All
• Upper East Side for Change/OFA
• Upper West Side MoveOn-Indivisible Group
• West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing

(* Participants in “NY-11 for Health Care”) (** Participants in “#nydocs”)

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…And here’s a list of ALL that we did together (in various configurations):

• Dec. 22 – “Protect Our Care” speak-out outside Staten Is. office of Rep. Dan Donovan, hosted by Staten is. for Change
• Jan. 5 – “Protect Our Patients” press conference featuring leaders of NYC physician groups and NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, at the Catherine Abate Health Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side
• Jan. 13 – “Health Care is a Human Right” rally outside Trump Tower, in conjunction with NYC single-payer advocacy groups
• Jan. 13 – Solidarity March to a rally for striking Momentive workers, in conjunction with CWA District One
• Jan. 15 – “Medicare for All” rally at the Wall St. Bull at Bowling Green, in conjunction with National Nurses United and NYS Nurses Assoc.
• Jan 18 – NYC kick-off of “Save Our Care” national bus tour, at City Hall with Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio
• Jan. 19 – “Candlelight Vigil for Health Care” outside the Staten Island office of Rep. Dan Donovan, led by NY-11 for Health Care
• Jan. 21 – “Women’s March NYC” health care contingent, from the UN to Trump Tower, led by PNHP NY Metro

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• Feb. 3 – Meeting of Health Care for America Now’s NYS Network, at 1199 SEIU in Albany
• Feb. 21 – “Save Our Health Care” rally outside the Bay Ridge office of Rep. Dan Donovan, led by NY-11 for Health Care
• Feb. 23 – Health Care Town Hall in Stapleton, Staten Island, in conjunction with the Healthcare Education Project
• Feb. 25 – “Protect Our Patients” speak-out at the Bay Ridge office of Rep. Dan Donovan, in conjunction with NYC physician and nursing groups

• Mar. 12 – Health care forum hosted by United Through Action, at the Church of the Village in Greenwich Village
• Mar. 17 – Press conference at the Bay Ridge Senior Center, led by the Healthcare Education Project and AARP/NY
• Mar. 21 – “Medicaid Block Grants Kill” protest outside 26 Federal Plaza, led by Rise and Resist
• Mar. 30 – ACT UP/New York 30th Anniversary March and Action, from NYC AIDS Memorial to Union Square

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• Apr. 1 – “March for Health”, from Trump Tower to Columbus Circle, led by a variety of physician groups including #nydocs
• Apr. 19 – Health Care Town Hall in Bay Ridge, hosted by Fight Back Bay Ridge, South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance, and allies
• Apr. 25 – Meetings with Capitol Hill offices of NY Members of Congress, as part of People’s Action convention

• May 7 – Press conference with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at her NYC office
• May 9 – “Protect Our Public Schools and Health Care” protest outside Success Academy in Harlem, during a visit by House Speaker Paul Ryan, led by the Alliance for Quality Education and allies

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• June 3-4 – Workshop Sessions at the 2017 Justice Works conference, in Albany
• June 21-22 – “24-Hour Vigil to Save Our Health Care” in Columbus Circle, opposite Trump International Hotel; led by Rise and Resist
• June 22 – “Statewide Health Care Advocates Strategic Planning Meeting”, jointly hosted by Health Care for All New York, Medicaid Matters New York, and Health Care for America Now, at 1199 SEIU in Albany
• June 23 – Press Conference with Sen. Charles Schumer, at Bellevue Hospital
• June 27 – Multi-Stakeholder Day of Capitol Hill Visits with members of the New York Congressional delegation
• June 28 – “Emergency Vigil to Save Our Health Care” solidarity action in Foley Square, across from Federal Plaza

• July 6 – “Koch Addiction Kills Our Health Care!” symbolic funeral march, led by Rise and Resist
• July 10 – “Faso Fat Cats Make Us Sick!” protest outside an NYC fundraiser for Rep. John Faso, joint with NYS Nurses Assoc., 1199 SEIU, and Rise and Resist
• July 15 – Press conference with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, at Bellevue Hospital
• July 24 – Medicare for All rally, in Union Square
• July 26 – Health care unions press conference at City Hall, led by 1199 SEIU and NYS Nurses Assoc.
• July 29 – “Our Lives Are Still on the Line” Victory and Recommitment Rally

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• Aug. 4 – Anniversary Celebration of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, hosted by the NYS Nurses Association
• Aug. 13 – Solidary Rally Against White Supremacy in the U.S, in conjunction with Rise and Resist

• Sept. 22 – Press conference about the “Graham-Cassidy” bill outside the Staten Island office of Rep. Dan Donovan, led by NY-11 for Health Care
• Sept. 23 – “Funeral March to Bury TrumpCare” in Times Square, in conjunction with Rise and Resist
• Sept. 25 – Press conference with members of the NYC congressional delegation, NYC Councilmembers, and HCAN members

In the end, grassroots activism proved essential to stopping Congress from its attacks on the ACA, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood …for the 2017 federal fiscal year. However, debate is now starting in Congress over various proposals for tax cut and spending bills for the new 2018 fiscal year that started on October 1st. Health care and a wide range of related social programs will be squarely in the bullseye again in the process, so our work to protect and improve health care programs continues. Medicare, Medicaid, family planning, and the ACA are all at risk. No rest for the weary!

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On the positive side, Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced his long-awaited “Medicare-for-All” universal health care bill. While not likely to be taken up in the current Congress, this bill provides a goal we can all point to as where the U.S. needs to go once the current doings in Congress are squashed once and for all.

Congress Begins to Attack Health Care Programs, and New Yorkers Mobilize to Fight Back

If you’ve been following the news out of Washington, DC lately, you know that health care is under attack.  Congress is rushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act and end funding for family planning services.  However, these moves are only the first wave, with more to come later this spring that will affect Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and employer coverage.

It’s a wild ride so far and will only intensify.  Everyone’s health care coverage is at risk, no matter what kind you have.  Just looking at the ACA repeal (with NO replacement, so far) alone, 2.7 million New Yorkers will lose their coverage, including 1.6 million here in New York City.

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It’s all-hands-on-deck, big time!

Fortunately, lots of groups of forces are starting to mobilize and fight back, and we here at Metro are at the center of many of these efforts and events.  The national Health Care for America Now (HCAN) campaign that functioned during the 2009-10 health care reform fight is back, and will be focusing on all the current and upcoming fights.  HCAN action coalitions are forming across New York State, and we are leading the effort here in NYC.  Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn is a particular focus, among others.

How to keep on top of it all?  

We urge you to keep checking our website calendar, action alert page, and blog.  There’s new events and developments happening almost every day.  Additionally, as you hear of activities or plan some yourself, please let us know of them so that we can list them to inform others.

You can also follow us on Facebook.  We post things many things there (particularly timely news stories), and you can easily share out items from there to your own social media networks.

Why is the health care fight back is SO important?

Of course, health care is not the only issue that New Yorkers and those who care about social justice are worried about.  Many really bad ideas are in the works coming out of the new Congress and incoming Trump administration, so we all have to have each others’ backs if we’re going to succeed.  We cannot just stay in our own silos and have parochial perspectives.  We will all lose if that happens.

That said, health care just happens to be the first thing out of the gate.  If we can successfully beat back what Congress wants to do on that front, or at the very least throw sand in the gears of the legislative process, that will slow or stop EVERYTHING ELSE that’s lined up right behind it.  By focusing NOW on the ACA and women’s health care fights, we pushback on what’s coming next on a whole variety of health care, social, and economic issues.

What to do?  “Think global, act local.”  

First and foremost, keep contacting your member of Congress about your views on whatever is happening, including our two Senators:  Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.  Put them on your speed dial.  Many of them are very supportive of health care, and are fighting hard against the coming onslaught.  It is very important that we support them, and that any damage coming out of any setbacks is minimal.  For those lawmakers who don’t support health care programs, we must hold them accountable for their positions and votes, and inform their constituents of what they are doing.

While all these fights right now are defensive ones, we all know that what we truly need is a universal health care program here in the U.S. and New York.  By fighting to preserve and improve the health care gains that we have made over the last 50 years, we will gain the political momentum to push forward toward that broader, ultimate goal.  If we lose on these current fights, we will be badly set back.

Thanks, as always, for all you do to fight for health care for all and health care justice.  We look forward to partnering with your community organization, trade union, professional association, and faith congregation in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  Onward!

A Post-Election Open Letter: The New Fight for Health Care Justice

It’s been a very busy time for health care justice advocates and activists since Election Day.  The results present us with a very different and much more challenging political and policymaking landscape than we had anticipated.  Meetings and conference calls have been numerous in recent days as we try to assess our new environment and brainstorm contingencies and options.  At the same time, many of us are very fearful for the future of a humane society and our fundamental democracy.  Nevertheless, we’re lifted up and inspired by the tried-and-true adage, “Don’t mourn, organize.”

Multiracial Hands Making a Circle

What we now know for sure is that we really are “all in this together” across the broad social justice spectrum, both in terms of what’s at stake, and how we must respond.  To both protect our current health care and coverage system (imperfect as it is) and advance toward a more just one we’ve long sought, we cannot function solely in our own silos.  We must link up with others and support them as we also rely on support from them.  We must become much more strategic, and utilize a broad range of tactics that complement each other, not necessarily in lock-step but in respectful solidarity.

It is still early days, and we have a lot to share with and learn from each other as we forge our plans.  Yet given the urgency of the coming mere weeks ahead, we will likely have to build our plane while we are flying it.  It won’t be easy, but we dare say we’ve done it before, and we can do it again.  It will require putting our shoulders to our wheel while linking arms with each other.

With all that in mind, in the days ahead we will be reaching out to you, our partners here in Metro, to share what we know, and to hear from you.  We welcome opportunities to meet with you, so please reach out to us about that …and we’ll also be contacting you.  We also seek to join with others who are jointly mobilizing for the new era, to particularly be a resource on health care issues, so please feel free to call on us.

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We are expecting a broad and aggressive attack on health care programs fairly soon in the coming new year.  Everything will be in the bullseye:  Affordable Care Act, women’s health care, children’s health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and various aspects of employer-sponsored coverage.

We will be calling on and supporting our champions to stand strong.  We will confront those who move to rollback these programs.  We will be reaching out to help the media understand what’s at stake.  We will be creating our own media (traditional and new.)  We’ll be helping the public and various constituencies understand the options and consequences of various decisions, and how they can assert their needs.  We’ll be building and leading coalition efforts to bring various forces together synergistically.  We will be planning convenings to share information and strategize collectively about what can be done here in New York to protect and improve health care.

We’ve got our work cut out of us.  Our upcoming annual gala on Thursday evening December 8th is an opportunity to gather up some needed financial resources for the fight ahead, and we hope you will attend and support it generously.  However, it will take more than money for us to succeed in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.  It will also take active participation and engagement with each other, each playing our own role and making our unique contributions.  Our whole WILL be greater than the sum of its parts.

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We look forward to continuing to work with each and every one of you in the fight for health care justice here in New York and across the U.S.  Here we go — let’s do it!

2016 Election Results Threaten Health Care for Millions of New Yorkers

Our next President and Congress are coming after our health care …BIG TIME.

Whether you and/or your kids get your coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, or an Affordable Care Act plan, they’re ALL in the cross-hairs now.  Employer coverage may also be further dumbed down so that you end up in a high-deductible plan with a measly health savings account. (And that’s not even mentioning what they’ve got in mind for Social Security.)

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We all have our work cut out for us for the next four years on many social justice issues, and health care will be one of the major ones and one of the first things out of the Washington chute in 2017.  It’s all hands on deck time!

….Which is why we need your support of our upcoming annual gala.  We’ve got to step-up our game to a whole new level – the status quo and same-old, same-old won’t cut it.  We’ll be working with our union and community partners to form a united and powerful fight back, and your generous contributions will make that possible.

Individuals can support our Gala by attending and making a contribution. The suggested donation is $75, but everyone is welcome, whatever you give.  If you can’t attend, we’ll miss you, but will still welcome your contribution!  You can make your contribution by using the donate button here or at the door.

Your organization or union can also support our 2016 Annual Gala by:
• Joining our Host Committee
• Placing an announcement in our Commemorative Journal
• Reserving a group of tickets (at discount)
Please contact us about these methods of support.

Our gala will be held on Thursday evening, December 8th, in the auditorium at District Council 1707 AFSCME, located at 420 West 45th Street in Manhattan.  We’re very excited that our honorees this year will be:
• New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, for political leadership.
• Communications Workers of America, Local 1102, for trade union leadership.
• New York Paid Leave Insurance Campaign, for community leadership.

Our keynote speaker will be Althea Maybank, MD, Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Director of its Center for Health Equity.

Looking forward to meeting you then!

 

NYC Universal Health Care Advocates to Gather and Celebrate Health Care Justice Leaders

You’re invited!

At our Leaders for Health Care Justice Annual Gala, our members, supporters, and friends gather to look back over and celebrate our accomplishments of the year, and commit ourselves to the work of the year ahead …all over some good food and drink.

20th Anniversary Champagne Toast

We will also recognize some worthy groups and individuals who have advanced the cause of health care justice and universal health care.  We’re very excited that our honorees this year will be:

 

  • New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, for political leadership – Several major long-stalled health care proposals have moved forward under his leadership, including the New York Health Act, Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, enhanced funding for safety net hospitals, and paid family leave.
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  • Communications Workers of America, Local 1102, for trade union leadership – For the past eight years, they have provided leadership on Staten Island to bring together local trade unions and community advocates to engage their local Congressmembers, media, and the public on issues related to health care reform, and protecting and improving federal vital health care and social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Child Health Insurance, SNAP/food stamps, etc.
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  • New York Paid Leave Insurance Campaign, for community leadership – For nearly two decades, they have brought together a variety of forces across the state to advocate for a state-based paid family leave program, so that family members can provide care to loved ones without fear of losing their job or a loss of income. Their goal was achieved earlier this year, and soon New York will become the fourth state to have one, and it will be the most robust in the nation.
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Our keynote speaker will be Althea Maybank, MD, Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Director of its Center for Health Equity.  She will inform us of her Center’s important work to address racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care and how we can support it, and connect the struggle for health equity to that of universal health care.

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Our gala will be held on Thursday evening, December 8th, in the auditorium at District Council 1707 AFSCME, located at 420 West 45th Street in Manhattan.

You can support our Gala by attending and making a contribution.  The suggested donation is $75, but everyone is welcome, whatever you can give (more if you can, less if you can’t.)  Just use the donate button here on our website to make your donation, and we’ll reserve you a ticket at the door.  (If you can’t make it, we’ll still welcome your contribution!)

 

Your organization or union can also support our 2015 Annual Gala by:

  • Joining our Host Committee.
  • Placing an announcement in our Commemorative Journal.
  • Reserving a group of tickets (at discount.)

 

Contact our office (646-527-6612) for information on these group contribution options.

 

2017 will present us all with new opportunities and challenges under a new President and Congress, as well as a possible new balance of power in Albany.  Your financial support of our gala will provide us the resources needed to continue our mission of fostering community and labor collaboration toward our shared goal of universal health care and health care justice.

 

See you then!

Advocates and Allies Organize Regional ACA Summits Across New York in Advance of Upcoming Open Enrollment Period

The latest reports from the New York State Dept. of Health indicate that approximately 3 million New Yorkers have enrolled in health coverage since our state’s new health benefits exchange marketplace, branded “New York State of Health”, opened four years ago.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the state’s insurance rate is now below 5%.  That’s a tremendous achievement!

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However, approximately 1 million state residents remain uninsured, and they are the hardest to reach, often living in the shadows and on the edges of our economy and society.  Many of them can enroll in public programs at any time if they have incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level (about $24,000/year or $2,000/month.)  For those above that amount, they have to wait for “annual open enrollment periods” for uninsured people to choose a private health insurance plan.  The good news is that the next one starts next month and runs through the end of January, so now is the time to get ready to act.

To help gear up for this period, members of Health Care for All New York, one of our state’s major consumer health advocacy coalitions, have joined forces again with the Healthcare Education Project, a joint program of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association, to organize another round of annual Outreach and Enrollment Summits across the state.  Since 2013, these events typically bring together of variety of stakeholders to get updates from state officials, hear from experts on outreach, enrollment, and post-enrollment issues, and talk among themselves about best practices and explore possible collaborations.

The particular focus of this year’s summits is on enrolling the hard-to-reach still-uninsured, and helping people with post-enrollment problems, including how best to use their coverage to stay healthy and connected to primary and preventive care so they can avoid relying on hospital emergency rooms.

There are 8 summits happening across New York, including 5 here in the greater New York City area:

 

  • Brooklyn-Queens – Wed. Oct. 5th, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. in Jamaica, Queens. Info and RSVPs at 917-593-0032.

 

  • Staten Island – Fri. Oct. 14th, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Project Hospitality, 514 Bay St. on Staten Island. Info and RSVPs at 917-543-3200.

 

  • Long Island – Mon. Oct. 17, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 1199SEIU, 100 Duffy Avenue, Suite 300 West, 3rd floor, in Hicksville. Info and RSVPs at 516-418-0725

 

 

 

Advocates, enrollers, health care and social service providers, brokers, small business owners, and insurance professionals are all invited to attend.  We’re proud to be playing a leadership role for the Bronx-Manhattan and Hudson Valley summits, and a supportive one for the Brooklyn-Queens and Staten Island ones.  Looking forward to seeing you at one of them!

Our 2016 Dues Campaign Heads into the Home Stretch

As we all turn to the final month of the summer season, we want to follow-up with everyone about your support for our annual dues campaign, launched late last spring.  (You should have received a letter about it, but if not, please send us your address for future mailings.)  We want to wrap it all up by Labor Day, so now is the time to make your contribution, if you’ve not already done so.

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We want to thank the following for joining the “Health Care for All Team” for 2016 (to date):

Organizations and Unions:

  • Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN)
  • Associated Musicians of Greater NY, Local 802 AFM
  • Citizen Action of New York
  • Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU Healthcare
  • Communications Workers of America, Local 1180
  • Community Health Care Association of New York
  • Community Service Society of New York
  • District Council 37 Retirees Association
  • Doctors’ Council, SEIU Healthcare
  • GuildNet/Lighthouse Guild
  • International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, IATSE
  • Make the Road New York
  • Municipal Hospital Workers, Local 410, DC 37, AFSCME
  • New York City Americans for Democratic Action
  • New York City Central Labor Council
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • New York Professional Nurses Union
  • New York State Nurses Association
  • Primary Care Development Corp.
  • Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Metro Chapter
  • Planned Parenthood of New York City
  • Public Health Solutions

Individuals:

  • Richard Bergman
  • Carmelita Blake
  • Anne Bove
  • Lou and Sara Levitt
  • Jose Matta
  • Cheryl Merzel, MD
  • Ralph Palladino
  • Alec Pruchnicki, MD
  • Te Revesz
  • Jerry Shroder

While we’re pleased with our organizational support, donations from individuals are low so far compared to previous years, so we want to challenge you to help us make our goal so that we can keep our budget in balance.  If you donate here online, you can even make it a “monthly sustainer” contribution!

Here’s how you can make your personal contribution:

  • Send a check (see our address here)
  • Make an online donation by using the donate button to the right on this page.

Contributions from individuals are welcome at the following levels:

  • $100 — giving member
  • $75 — basic member
  • $35 — low-income member
  • $_____ (other)

We also welcome contributions from groups and unions at the following levels:

  • $500 – large groups
  • $250 – medium-sized groups
  • $150 – small groups
  • $_____ (other)

Your support for our 2016 dues campaign will enable us to continue to:

Thank you for your donations, and for all you do to fight for health care justice in New York and across the U.S.  Best wishes on the rest of your summer!

Ryan-House Majority Health Care Reform Proposals Offer Radical Reactionary Changes

Last month, after a YEARS-LONG delay, House or Representatives’ Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican majority colleagues FINALLY released their “repeal and replace” plan for health care reform, should they maintain control of the House in this fall’s elections along with their Senate colleagues, and a Republican be elected President.  Their plan, dubbed “A Better Way”, would essentially return the nation to pre-Affordable Care Act days, while moving in additional conservative, market-driven/oriented directions, and giving private insurance much more hegemony and free rein.

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Much of the document is nothing but political rhetoric and “Obamacare bashing”, offering few policy specifics.  Here’s the main elements:

General Insurance Reforms:

  • Allow Insurers to offer plans across state lines.
  • Promote “health savings accounts” (HSAs) and “consumer-directed” plans.
  • Return health insurance regulation to the states, repealing the role of federal government.
  • Establish (undefined) “State Innovation Grants” to lower premium costs and/or number of uninsured.

Individual Market Reforms:

Repeal the Affordable Care Act but…

  • Allow young adults to stay on their parents’ plan
  • Prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions
  • Prohibit insurers from dropping coverage for people who get sick
  • Continue bans on lifetime coverage limits
  • Eliminate the “individual mandate” tax penalty
  • Eliminate state-based and federal “public” health insurance exchanges/marketplaces, along with the advanced premium tax credits (APTCs) to help the uninsured purchase insurance. Instead provide a fixed/flat tax credit to everyone in the individual market, adjusted by age, who would buy coverage through “private exchanges”.
  • Prohibit insurers from charging higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions provided they keep continuous coverage.
  • Provide a one-time open enrollment period for the uninsured regardless of health history.
  • Establish separate state-based high-risk insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions, for people who have breaks in coverage.
  • Allow insurers to charge more to older people for the same plan/policy, beyond the current ACA standard of 3:1 ratio. Standard range would be 5:1 with state flexibility to go higher or lower.
  • Unclear: What happens to 20M people currently covered under the new ACA plans?

Employer-Sponsored Coverage Reforms:

  • End the “employer mandate” tax penalty.
  • Cap the tax preference and tax deduction for employer-sponsored coverage.
  • Allow employers to reward employees who participate in wellness programs.
  • Allow small businesses and individuals to join together in “association” health plans.
  • Allow small employers who self-insure to buy private “stop-loss” coverage.

Medicare Reforms:

  • Raise eligibility age to 67 (matching Social Security.)
  • Transform Medicare from a “guaranteed benefit” to a “defined contribution”/”premium support” program, with lower premiums for sicker people, lower out-of-pocket limits for low-income people, and higher premiums for wealthier beneficiaries.
  • Create regional “Medicare Compare” websites/exchanges to list private Medicare plans and traditional Medicare.
  • Combine Medicare Parts A and B, with a unified deductible, and a maximum annual out-of-pocket cost cap.
  • Combine all four current Medicare Savings Plans (“MSPs”) into one program with a uniform asset test, to be run/set by states.
  • Eliminates the new ACA-authorized “Independent Payment Advisory Board” (not yet implemented), and new the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
  • End mandatory cuts in subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Allow private Medicare Advantage plans greater flexibility to offer “value-based” benefit designs.
  • End “first dollar coverage” for private Medicare Supplemental (“Medigap”) plans.
  • Allow physicians to enter into private financial contracts with Medicare patients for selected medical services covered by Medicare, but outside of Medicare per se.
  • Repeal Medicare Disproportionate Share (“DSH”) cuts to hospitals for 2018-2019.

Medicaid Reforms:

  • Transform Medicaid into a block grant program to states. States could choose either a “per-capita cap” or straight block grant.
  • Eliminate many coverage requirements for state Medicaid programs.
  • Allow states to create incentives for various healthier and personal behaviors.
  • Repeal Medicaid Disproportionate Share (“DSH”) cuts for 2018-2020.

Health Insurance Tax Reforms:

Repeals new ACA funding streams:

  • Excise (“Cadillac”) tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored/union health plans
  • Increased Medicare taxes on high-income taxpayers, including investment income
  • Penalties for non-qualified distributions from HSAs
  • “Windfall profits” taxes on insurers, drug makers, and medical device manufacturers

Other Reforms:

  • Combine Medicare and Medicaid “Disproportionate Share” (DSH) funds into one pool/program starting in 2021.
  • Cap medical malpractice awards.
  • Codify the anti-choice “Hyde Amendment” and “conscience clauses” for providers.
  • Allow physician-owned hospitals.
  • Reduce regulation of NIH research.
  • Promote “personalized medicine”.
  • Modernize clinical trials and reduce red tape.
  • Reduce regulation of medical app development.
  • Facilitate repurposing of drugs for patients with rare diseases.
  • Reduce regulation on development of electronic health records.

Summary: http://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-Snapshot.pdf

Full document: http://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-PolicyPaper.pdf

Unexpected Advances on Health Bills Made as NY State Legislature Winds Up Its 2016 Session

As this year’s state legislative session drew to a close late last month, several bills important to consumer health advocates and our allies advanced: some to Governor Cuomo’s desk for signing or veto, others to firmer footing for next year’s session.  Depending on how this fall’s elections turn out will determine prospects for these latter set of bills come 2017.

NYS capitol

Things started off well with the overwhelming passage on June 1st, for the second year in a row, of the New York Health Act (A.5062-A, Gottfried) by the New York State Assembly, by an 86 to 53 vote.  The bill would create a fully-public universal health care program covering all New York residents.   While New York’s uninsurance rate has dropped to less than 5% under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we still need to cover those for whom the law offers no options.  This bill would draw on provisions of the ACA which allow states to move forward beyond and building upon the ACA, including implementing so-called “single-payer” systems, as embodied in this bill.  The Campaign to New York Health has been the lead coalition promoting it.

Next up was the Safe Staffing and Quality Care Act (A.8580-A, Gunther), which overwhelmingly passed the NYS Assembly on June 14 by a vote of 103 to 31. This bill sets minimum nurse staffing ratios in hospitals and nursing homes, by department. Nurse are WAY overworked and overburdened in many of these settings, and find it very challenging to provide quality, timely care to their patients. This bill helps remedy this crisis.  A similar law in effect in California for over a decade now has significantly improved patient care, the working conditions of nurses, AND saved money for hospitals and nursing homes.  The NY Campaign for Patient Safety, led by the NYS Nurses Association and the Communications Workers of America, has been the coalition promoting the bill.

In the literal final hours of the session, three bills actually moved to enactment, for signature by the governor:

  • Enhanced Safety Net Hospitals Act (S6948-A/Hannon, A9476-A/Gottfried) – This bill raises the Medicaid reimbursement rate to hospitals for whom their over 50% or their patients are either uninsured and/or covered by Medicaid. These are hospitals that are suffering because of federal funding cutbacks for indigent care. This bill was promoted by the Save Our Safety Net Campaign and various public sector unions, and came out of nowhere in about 3 months, highly unusual for the legislative process.
  • Advanced Home Health Aide Act (S.8110/LaValle, A.10707/Glick) – This bill creates a new category of nursing professional to provide certain services in home and community-based settings so that patients with complex health needs can live at home/in the community if they choose, rather than be forced only to live in skilled nursing facilities/nursing homes.  This bill was promoted by Medicaid Matters New York, the New York Independent Association for Independent Living, and various senior citizen and disability rights groups after a multi-year effort.
  • Expedited Utilization Review for Prescription Drugs Act (S,3419/Young, A.2834-D/Titone) – This allows physicians to request overrides of insurers’ “step therapy” and “fail first” limitations on certain drugs on a case-by-case basis when needed.  The bill was promoted by New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage and their allies after a multi-year effort. 

Unfortunately, two other bills were “left on the table”:

  • Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act (S.6013/Bonacic, A.8135-B/Cahill) – would mandate that health insurers cover all forms of FDA-approved contraception. It passed the Assembly back in January and has been stuck in the Senate Insurance Committee since.
  • “Lavern’s Law” (S.6596-B/DeFrancisco, A.10719-A/Weinstein) – would to change the filing deadline for medical negligence/malpractice suits from the physician’s date of diagnosis of a given condition to the patient’s date of notification. It passed the Assembly in 2015 and is now before the Judiciary Committees in both chambers.