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Jewish Voice: New Yorkers Push for Universal Healthcare, as ACA Debate Persists

By Judith Pottsfield, 3/1/17

Representative Yvette Clarke, a Democratic Congressman from Brooklyn recently hosted a town hall meeting at which she staunchly defended the soon to be outgoing Affordable Care Act, known as Obama care. The Act has been a topic of choice at a number of Town Hall meetings in recent weeks.

The repeal of Obama Care sparked a wave of protests on Medical school campuses across the country at the beginning of the year, as students took to the streets, staged “death-ins” and called on their government representatives to halt the repeal of the ACA. Future medical practitioners are worried that removing Obama Care could leave many at risk patients without adequate health insurance.

Although Clarke’s town hall meeting was designed to support the retention of the Affordable Care Act, the majority of the audience members according to Crain’s New York showed their support for universal health care.

Under the single payer health system, all Americans will have access to taxpayer-funded healthcare and would not be obliged to sign up for public, private or employer-funded health plans.

Although Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders championed a “Medicare for All” proposal during the Democratic primary, the single payer health system has failed to gain any sort of traction within the legislature because of a lack of bipartisan support.

Locally, Democratic assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Sen. Bill Perkins managed to get a comparable bill titled “The New York Health Act” past the majority Democratic State Assembly, but the same bill was quashed in the majority Republican Senate.

According to Crain’s the audience was less concerned about the Affordable Care Act than they were about reaching a universal consensus on taxpayer funded healthcare.

One audience member underlined the limitations of the existing law. “We could increase subsidies and we could expand Medicaid further, but those are just Band-Aids, not proper solutions. At what point will congressional Democrats come out in full force in full support of universal, single-payer health care?”

In spite of her initial prescription for the meeting, Representative Clarke quickly threw her support behind the speaker’s suggestion. “You’re talking my kind of language. I’ve been for single payer healthcare ever since I’ve been in Congress. She deferred to the initial plan for the meeting by adding that the reason why the ACA is such a point of contention among policymakers is because “it is taking us down that road.”

President Obama initially supported a single payer tax system during his 2008 campaign, the Affordable Care Act substituted for his initial plan because of the ways in which it has aided the insurance market.