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Denton Publications: Funiciello testifies in state Assembly on health care reform

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.

“Obamacare does nothing to make health care more affordable in the U.S.,” Funiciello said, noting that the U.S. government alone spends $9,800 per citizen annually on medical costs. “Health care is the biggest economic scam going on in this country.”

In his testimony, Funiciello noted that during his early years living in Ontario, had been covered by the province’s health care system, which provided coverage to all residents. He noted that the Canadian health care system not only was universal coverage, but it cost about half per capita of the amount spent on health care in the U.S., yet ranked substantially higher for quality of care than the U.S. system.

He noted that the Canadian health care approach drastically reduced administrative and billing costs, which in the U.S. are between 22 percent and 30 percent of health care expenses. He noted that about twice the money is spent on health care in the U.S. than Canada, but our nation ranks 38th among nations for quality of care, compared to 30 for Canada, which has no co-pays or deductibles.

He also noted that the U.S. health care system, which relies on for-profit corporations as middlemen, encourages denial of coverage, and has enabled pharmaceutical companies to charge so much for their drugs that the U.S. has the highest pharmaceutical costs of any western nation. He also noted that the existing system is riddled with exclusions and prevents many citizens from receiving care from doctors of their choice.

He said that health care costs could be exorbitant to individuals and families who experience a medical calamity.

“Millions of Americans are just months away from being destitute,” he said, noting that he does not have health insurance for himself, nor do 45 million other U.S. citizens. “This is one of the most important issues in the U.S.”

Funiciello concluded his presentation urging politicians to follow the will of individuals rather than powerful corporations.

“Kudos and bravo to those New York politicians who have the fortitude and principles to push forward toward single payer legislation,” Funiciello said.