By Darius Shahinfar, Albany City Treasurer, January 28.
As city treasurer in Albany, I am constantly reminded by our taxpayers that our property taxes need to be cut.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan is doing her part by budgeting responsibly, improving operations and actually cutting taxes.
But taxpayers need a lot more help. Legislative hearings have been held across the state regarding the New York Health Care Act, a variation of the federal “Medicare for All” bill (HR 676), which would bring Medicare-style, single-payer health care funding to the state. There is no stronger measure New York could take to cut our property taxes than to pass this bill into law. Hidden health care costs are present in every product, good or service in our economy. For example, health care adds an estimated $2,000 to $4,000 to the price of every car built in the United States.
For taxpayers, we have an enormous hidden health care “tax” in our property taxes. And the truth is this hidden tax is bleeding property taxpayers dry. In Albany, 96 percent of our tax bills are composed of three, separate bills from the city, the county and the school district. Astonishingly, health care costs are nearly half of our city tax bill, a quarter of our school district’s tax bill and more than the entire amount in a county tax bill.
By Thom Randall, January 22
Matt Funiciello of Glens Falls, the most successful third-party candidate for Congress in Warren County in recent history, testified before the state Assembly Jan 13 on behalf of a single-payer health care system in New York.
Funiciello, proprietor of Rock Hill Bakery and its associated cafe in Glens Falls, spoke on behalf of the proposed New York Health Act. The legislation would establish a state-run system that would replace the present patchwork system that relies on both private insurance companies, as well as the federal and state governments.
The New York Health Act has been championed by state Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat. Gottfried and Funiciello both say that if health care was provided merely through the state government, $20 billion would be saved by eliminating insurance companies’ overhead and the burdensome administrative costs that health care providers shoulder by dealing with these firms as well the government.
By Ali Hibbs, January 22
Health-care professionals and patients rallied at the Legislative Office Building last week in support of legislation to implement a universal health-care system in New York State. Decrying the current system as too costly and exclusionary, supporters of the NY Health Act insisted that it would save the state billions of dollars and make health care accessible and affordable for all New York citizens by taking insurance providers out of the equation altogether.
Albany was the last stop in a series of six hearings that took place across the state where doctors, patients, nurses and other stakeholders voiced support and gave testimonials endorsing the bill.
By Nathan Riley, January 22, 2015
A legislative proposal in Albany to reduce stigma, curb police harassment of drug users, and improve access to clean needles demonstrated broad support at a January 15 press conference in Manhattan.
State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who represents part of the Bronx, and Chelsea Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, both Democrats, discussed legislation they will introduce that would completely decriminalize syringe possession and lift restrictions on their sale in pharmacies. Distribution of clean needles to drug injectors in New York City has helped bring new HIV diagnoses among that group down from thousands annually to 89 in 2013.
Among those on hand with Rivera and Gottfried was Tracie Gardner, who has served as co-director of policy at the Legal Action Center and last month was named an assistant secretary of health by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
By Lincoln Anderson, 1/22/15
A City Council hearing Tuesday on illegal apartment rentals in New York City was dominated by debate about airbnb, the exploding online “home-sharing” operation.
Titled “Short-term Rentals: Stimulating the Economy or Destabilizing Neighborhoods?” the hearing was led by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, chairperson of the Housing and Buildings Committee.
The crowd packing the City Council Chambers included tenants and tenant advocates opposed to airbnb, as well as others who praised the easy financial pickings of renting out their places to perfect strangers, which can pay for a vacation, for example, or just supplement one’s income.
By Ashley Hupfl, City & State, January 19
One of the next big things in medical care is offering healthcare services inside retail stores such as CVS, Price Chopper and Walmart, which recently opened primary care clinics in stores in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas.
But if Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried has his way, New York will preemptively ban or at least regulate such primary care services offered by major retails chains.
“We are seeing more and more so-called ‘retail clinics’ opening in chain pharmacies, even in supermarket chains,” Gottfried told City & State in December. “The issue of commercialized delivery of outpatient care needs to be confronted. Whether it’s urgent care clinics or retail clinics in pharmacies or supermarkets, there’s a real need to protect consumers and protect the ability of ordinary primary practices to stay afloat.”
Intravenous drug users would be able to purchase as many clean needles as they need and carry them without fear of police harassment under a bill proposed by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera.
The bill, which would amend certain sections of the criminal and public health law, is a key recommendation of an anti-AIDS task force commissioned by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The task force’s ambitious goal is to limit the number of new AIDS cases to 750 per year by 2020. In 2013, there were 2,832 new cases statewide.
Today in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, the New York State Assembly Committee on Health convened its sixth and final hearing on the New York Health Act, legislation I am sponsoring in the Assembly that would establish publicly funded universal healthcare coverage in New York State. Before the hearing began, I joined healthcare advocates and other New Yorkers at a news conference to talk about why we support single-payer healthcare in New York.
I spoke at a news conference in the Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany before the hearing on the New York Health Act.
The Reverend Brooke Newell, Director of Social Witness for the New York State Council of Churches, talking about why she supports universal healthcare coverage at a news conference in the Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany before the hearing on the New York Health Act.
Doug Bullock, an Albany County Legislator, speaking in support of the New York Health Act in the Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany before the Assembly Health Committee hearing on the bill.
Speaking to reporters following the press conference on the New York Health Act held before the Assembly Health Committee hearing in Albany on the bill.
At the Assembly Health Committee hearing in Albany on the New York Health Act, Luke Buchanan speaks about the pitfalls of negotiating the private insurance market as a New Yorker with Cystic Fibrosis. With him are Star Hesse of the Senior Legislative Action Council of Sullivan County. and pediatrician and public health advocate Kathy Aberman.
Alan Pfeffer Advocacy Chair of the Huntingtons Disease Society of New York State, testifying at the hearing in support of the New York Health Act at the Assembly Health Committee hearing on the bill in the Legislative Office Building in Albany.
Dr. Mark Josefski, President of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, testifying on behalf of the New York Health Act at the Assembly Health Committee’s hearing in Albany.
Mischa Sogut, email@example.com. 518-455-4941
For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2015
Doctors, Patients, Nurses, Labor, & Faith Leaders Call on NY to Pass Universal Healthcare Act at Assembly Hearing
New York Health Act Would Save New York Consumers Billions a Year AND Give Everyone Access to Quality Healthcare
On Tuesday, January 13, the New York State Assembly Health Committee held a hearing on the New York Health Act, sponsored by Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and State Senator Bill Perkins, which would create a state-wide universal healthcare program. Before the hearing, doctors, advocates, union leaders and faith leaders offered personal stories detailing how the current healthcare system is increasingly too expensive for the average family and many employers and called on the Legislature to pass the proposal. They included leaders of the NYS AFL-CIO, NYS Nurses Association, the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, NYS United Teachers, Citizen Action and many others.
The hearing comes on the heels of the announcement that health insurance premiums on the state’s exchange have gone up almost 6% for New Yorkers and employers, more health plans have narrow restricted provider networks with no out-of-network coverage, and deductibles are skyrocketing. This has been a historic problem. Health care premiums increased by 76% between 2003 and 2011.
By David Howard King, January 12
In December the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl from Ohio, garnered national attention. The teen left a note on her Tumblr blog saying that she hoped her death would spark conversation about discrimination, abuse, and lack of support for transgender youth. Alcorn had come out to her parents about her gender identity and was sent to a Christian conversion therapy to “cure” her.
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” Alcorn wrote.