NEW YORK HEALTH ACT PASSES ASSEMBLY

Contact:
Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941, Sogutm@nysa.us
For immediate release
Wednesday, 5/27/15

PRESS RELEASE
Assembly Passes Universal Health Care Bill
Historic Vote Makes It “Truly Achievable Goal” Says Sponsor

On Wednesday, May 27, the New York State Assembly passed the “New York Health Act” universal health care bill (A. 5062/S. 3525) by a vote of 89 to 47.  New York Health would provide universal, comprehensive health care to all New Yorkers without premiums, co-pays, deductibles, or limited provider networks.

“Assembly passage of New York Health will elevate the issue on the public agenda and change the conversation from ‘it’s a great idea that will never happen’ to a truly achievable goal,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, lead Assembly sponsor of the bill.

The last time a universal health care bill was on the Assembly floor was 1992.  It passed with a solid majority.  “But then, the focus of reform shifted to Washington. While the federal Affordable Care Act has done a lot of good, it’s clear that a lot of problems remain – and if we want to fix them, we have to do it ourselves,” Mr. Gottfried said.

According to an analysis by University of Massachusetts/Amherst Economics Department Chair Gerald Friedman, 98% of New Yorkers would spend less for health coverage and health care under New York Health than they do today.  New York would save over $70 billion by eliminating health insurance company administration and profit; reducing health care provider and employer administrative costs; and capturing savings from negotiating prices of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.  Even after expanding coverage to all New Yorkers; eliminating deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-network charges; and increasing low Medicaid reimbursements, New York Health would generate net savings of $45 billion.

“Funding and administering health insurance is the primary uncontrolled burden on local budgets,” said Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar.  “The question for me is how these hidden costs of health care – insurance company profit, administrative waste and inefficiency, mandatory local Medicaid spending – affect our local taxes.  The facts are undeniable:  New York Health, based on my conservative estimates, would reduce City and School District tax rates by at least 20% and could eliminate many County property taxes entirely.  Getting full health care coverage while cutting property taxes seems like a no-brainer to me.”

In December and January, the Assembly Health Committee held hearings on the bill in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, New York City, Mineola, and Albany. The Committee heard testimony from almost 200 witnesses including New Yorkers with insurance who are bankrupted by their deductibles; patients who lose trusted providers due to restricted networks; doctors who spend hours on the phone negotiating with insurance bureaucrats; and medical students who “signed up for medical school, not business school.”

“Our healthcare system is fundamentally damaged. Too many parties are in it to make a buck off the misfortune of the sick and injured. That’s why NY needs to create a single payer healthcare system that cares for all patients without the interference of predatory insurance companies and other profit-driven enterprises seeking to drain the system,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, an RN at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and president of NYSNA. “Only under a system of universal access to care based on the highest quality for everyone – not on ability to pay, social status, or any other demographic impediment – will there be enough resources directed to the proper care for patients.”

The New York Health Act removes financial barriers to health care – the co-pays and deductibles – that keep some of my patients from seeing me when they need to,” said Oliver Fein, MD, Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro. “I also wouldn’t have to worry about my patients affording the medications, lab tests or consultations that they need.  I wouldn’t have to waste countless hours fighting insurance companies to approve necessary medical care.  The New York Health Act is a universal, single payer system that would guarantee equal access to care that is funded fairly – something every New Yorker and resident of this country deserves.”

New York Health would be a boon to business. Employer spending on health care eats up a median 12.8% of payroll costs on health insurance, up more than 50% in a decade, with small businesses spending even higher percentages. According to the Friedman study, New York Health could be funded through an income assessment averaging just 8.1% of payroll.

“New Yorkers deserve better,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “We should be able to go to the doctor when we need to, without worrying whether we can afford it. We should choose our doctors and hospitals without worrying about network restrictions. We deserve health coverage for all of us, paid for based on our ability to pay, not what the market will bear. I’m proud the Assembly has passed the New York Health Act, and I look forward to working with a great community of advocates including medical professionals, medical students, organized labor, and Senate sponsor Bill Perkins, to enact it into law.”

New York Health has been endorsed by the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association, Committee of Interns and Residents, Doctors Council SEIU, NY chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, SEIU 1199, NYS AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and 1179, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Local 32BJ SEIU, NYSUT, United Federation of Teachers, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, StateWide Senior Action Council, NYPIRG, League of Women Voters, and others.

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Gannett – For ill patients, medical marijuana in NY remains out of reach

By Joe Spector, Gannett (via Rochester Democrat & Chronicle), 5/23

The 10-year-old girl stood smiling at the governor’s side as he signed a medical marijuana bill into law last July.

Amanda Houser was so excited for the event, her mother said, her health problems — a rare form of epilepsy — were nearly forgotten for the day. And the photo from the New York City event of Amanda next to Gov. Andrew Cuomo is one of the more memorable images from his time in office.

But the good feelings from the event have gradually subsided, and ill patients are increasingly frustrated that, nearly a year later, they still can’t access medical marijuana in New York.

“She really shined that day, knowing that she might get the medicine,” Amanda’s mother, Maryanne, of Suffern, Rockland County, said. “She asks: ‘When am I going to get it?’ She’s tired of being different from the other kids.”

WSJ – Law Spurs Interest in Helping New Moms Deal With Depression

By Anne Machalinski, 5/25

Until this year, the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit center devoted to women’s mental health and wellness, held only small, private training sessions on postpartum depression.

But after New York state’s maternal depression law went into effect in January, the agency trained 67 nurses, social workers and other providers on how to identify the condition and connect women with services at a public session in Brooklyn, in April. And the organization has had so much interest that another public training has been set, with more than a dozen others in the works.

“We never expected the growth that’s been happening, and it’s kind of our scramble on the back end to meet demand,” said Rebecca Benghiat, Seleni’s executive director.

Capital NY – Health chairs predict problems with coming ‘Cadillac’ tax

By Katie Jennings, 5/18/15

State legislators from both sides of the aisle are concerned that a soon-to-take-effect Affordable Care Act tax will have a “devastating effect” on health plan coverage for both public and private employees.

The so-called “Cadillac tax” provision of the Affordable Care Act isn’t set to kick in until 2018, but Assembly health committee chair Richard Gottfried and Senate health committee chair Kemp Hannon both raised concerns over its impact during a event on Friday organized by the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute.

The controversial Cadillac tax, or excise tax on high-premium insurance plans, imposes a 40 percent tax on health premiums above a threshold of $10,200 a year for individuals and $27,500 for families. It is expected to bring in $87 billion in federal revenue by 2025, according to the most recent Congressional Budget Office analysis.

Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan, said “the approach of the Cadillac tax ought to be regarded by almost everybody as an oncoming train or worse.”

PHOTOS – NY Health Rally & Lobby Day

Even more great photos from the NY Health Act rally and lobby day.  We’re hopeful for a vote this session with the support of Speaker Carl Heastie and the great advocacy community – patients, healthcare professionals, organized labor!  All photos credit: Barbara Harrison/Campaign for NY Health.  For even more, please see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/81457446@N05/

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Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar

Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar

Dr. Matthews Hurley, Doctors Council SEIU

Dr. Matthews Hurley, Doctors Council SEIU

A/M Gottfried

A/M Gottfried

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A/M Gottfried & Katie Robbins, Campaign for NY Health

A/M Gottfried & Katie Robbins, Campaign for NY Health

Central NY delegation

Central NY delegation

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Daily News – Assembly health chief wants to increase medical marijuana availability

By Glenn Blain, May 15

ALBANY — The head of the Assembly’s Health Committee wants to greatly expand the places New Yorkers can get medical marijuana — and let them smoke it.

Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) introduced legislation this week that would overhaul the state’s fledgling medical pot program to allow a virtually unlimited number of dispensaries.

The current law, adopted last year, allows only a maximum of 20 dispensaries across the state.

Gottfried’s bill would also enable patients to smoke marijuana, which is prohibited under the existing law.

“It is excessively restrictive in ways that will make it almost impossible for the law to be implemented and will certainly restrict patient access without justification,” Gottfried said.

Gottfried’s bill, however, is not finding favor with Gov. Cuomo, who pushed for tight restrictions on New York’s program.

“The governor wants to ensure those in pain get the care that they need and changing the rules before the program is up and running would bring everything back to square one,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

Video – Interview on Marc Gronich’s “The Jewish View”

PHOTOS – NY Health Rally

Today’s rally for the NY Health Act single payer bill came with good news – Speaker Heastie’s support for bringing the bill to the floor!  Here are some photos from the event:

$45 billion savings from reducing administrative burdens, bulk purchase of drugs and devices.  Credit: NY Health Campaign

$45 billion savings from reducing administrative burdens, bulk purchase of drugs and devices. Credit: NY Health Campaign

Darius Shahinfar, Albany City Treasurer, makes the fiscal case for the NY Health Act.  Credit: PNHP NY-Metro

Darius Shahinfar, Albany City Treasurer, makes the fiscal case for the NY Health Act. Credit: PNHP NY-Metro

Marva Wade, NYS Nurses Association.  Credit: NYS Nurses Association

Marva Wade, NYS Nurses Association. Credit: NYS Nurses Association

Friends and allies from SEIU!  Credit: A/M Gottfried's office

Friends and allies from SEIU! Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office

Oli Fein, President, Physicians for a National Health Program - NY Metro.  Credit: PNHP

Dr. Oli Fein, President, Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro. Credit: PNHP

Credit: A/M Gottfried's office

Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office

Representing SEIU!  Credit:

Representing SEIU! Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office

Advocates get the good news of Heastie's support before the rally.  Credit: A/M Gottfried's office.

Advocates get the good news of Heastie’s support before the rally. Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office.

PRESS RELEASE – Doctors, Nurses, Small Business, & Labor Rally for Single Payer; Heastie Supports Bill

Doctors, Nurses, Small Business, Patients & Labor Rally and Lobby for Universal Healthcare

Speaker Heastie Supports Bringing “New York Health Act” to Assembly Floor for Vote

 Bill Would Save $45 Billion, Provide Coverage to All New Yorkers

Hundreds of health care professionals, patients, small business owners, and representatives of organized labor held a rally and lobby day in Albany today in support of the “New York Health Act” universal healthcare bill (A. 5062/S. 3525). New York Health would provide universal, comprehensive health care to all New Yorkers without premiums, co-pays, deductibles, or limited provider networks. According to an analysis by UMass-Amherst Economics Department Chair Gerald Friedman, New York Health would save New Yorkers more than $45 billion with 98% of New Yorkers paying less for their health care than they do today.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he will work to bring the bill to the Assembly floor for a vote this session.

PRESS ADVISORY – Rally for Universal Healthcare

Medical Professionals, Small Business & Labor To Hold Rally & Lobby Day for Universal Healthcare

Health care professionals, patients, small business owners, and representatives of organized labor will come to Albany on May 5 for a rally and lobby day for the “New York Health Act” universal health care bill (A. 5062/S. 3525). New York Health would provide universal, comprehensive health care to all New Yorkers without premiums, co-pays, deductibles, or limited provider networks. According to an analysis by UMass-Amherst Economics Department Chair Gerald Friedman, New York Health would save New Yorkers more than $45 billion annually.

The New York Health Act has been endorsed by leading unions and health care organizations including the Working Families Party, NYS AFL-CIO, SEIU 1199, NYS Nurses Association, Communications Workers of America, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Local 32BJ SEIU, NYSUT, United Federation of Teachers, Doctors Council SEIU, Committee of Interns and Residents, NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, Citizen Action, the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, & Asian Legislative Caucus, and 98 New York state legislators.

What:
-
Rally for the New York Health Act universal, single payer health care bill.

 Who:
-Physicians and nurses (white coats and scrubs for visuals)
-Small business owners
-Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar
-Bill sponsors Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried & Senator Bill Perkins and other Members of the Legislature;
-Patients sharing personal stories

 Where:
-
West Capitol Park (steps across from Alfred E. Smith building)

 When:
-Tuesday, May 5, 12:00 PM.

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