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Press Release: Albany Press Conference & Hearing on Universal Healthcare

Mischa Sogut, 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 eliminating unnecessary insurance company overhead and administrative costs that doctors and hospitals incur when dealing with insurance companies, the “New York Health” Act would save New York consumers billions of dollars a year, while giving everyone access to the doctor and medicine they need, without financial obstacles and with freedom of choice, health care security, and financial security.

“As a nurse in the Emergency Department, I routinely see patients that delay seeking care because they can’t afford their co-pays and deductibles,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, President of the New York State Nurses Association. “As a result, they end up sicker and in poorer health. It’s time to make healthcare about caring for our fellow human beings and not a for-profit insurance marketplace.”

“The NYS Academy of Family Physicians was one of the first physician organizations in the state to endorse the Single Payer concept (or Medicare for All) to achieve universal health care in New York.  The costs of health insurance continue to climb, yet New Yorkers with coverage still feel like they are underinsured every day dreading that a catastrophic illness or injury could bankrupt their family.  That is not true health coverage.  We believe the only solution to provide peace of mind to our patients to know that the insurance card in their pockets really means something is enactment of a single payer system through ‘New York Health’,” said Dr. Mark Josefski, President of NYSAFP.

The proposal would do away with insurance company coverage, premiums, deductibles, co-pays, restricted provider networks and out-of-network charges and replace it with comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers with full choices of doctors and other providers, and financed fairly by broad-based assessments based on ability to pay. The program would be publicly accountable and would eliminate the ‘local share’ of Medicaid, saving local governments billions of dollars.

“New Yorkers deserve better,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “We deserve to be able to go to the doctor when we need to, without worrying about if we can afford it. We deserve not to worry when we get a medical bill or an insurance statement we can’t figure out. We deserve health coverage for all of us, at a price based on our ability to pay, not what the market will bear.”

“All over New York State, people are clamoring for a health care system that is equitable, comprehensive and patient-centered—one that truly cares for them as human beings without reference to actuarial charts, prior approvals and prohibitive pricing,” said State Senator Bill Perkins.  “Our New York Health bill will finally put ‘patients before profits’—while vastly improving our healthcare delivery system, saving the state substantial amounts of money and finally recognizing the hallmark maxim that the greatest wealth in our society is our collective health.”

“It’s clear that the Affordable Care Act has improved the lives of many New Yorkers by making insurance easier and less expensive to obtain. However, even after its implementation, health care costs still disproportionately impact poor and middle class people. There are also many New Yorkers who still find themselves uninsured. New York State can and should do better,” said Assembly Member Karim Camara, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus.  “New York Health is a smart, financially sound way to improve the lives of New Yorkers. As Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, I am proud to work with my colleagues to get this important legislation passed.”

“While we have made great strides in securing health care coverage for countless New Yorkers with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, thousands of individuals either still lack health insurance or face substantial financial hardship to receive the medical treatment they need,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “Passing single-payer health care would be an essential step in ensuring that every New Yorker, regardless of his or her income level, has access to affordable and quality health care, while saving tax payers millions.”

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said “It’s clear that universal health coverage is the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.  Through the single-payer system created under the New York Heath Act, we can save consumers money, level the playing field for workers and employers alike, and create a more efficient and effective health care delivery system.  We thank Assemblyman Gottfried for his leadership on this critically important issue.”

“Providing access to health care for every New Yorker, no matter his or her economic status, should be one of our state’s top priorities,” stated NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. “The New York Health Act would make health insurance more affordable and accessible. If enacted, students who were uninsured or under insured would miss less school and be better equipped to learn; workers would be in a stronger position to contribute to the state’s economy and seniors would enjoy a more dignified retirement. We applaud Assembly Member Gottfried and Senator Perkins for spearheading this important issue.”

“Now is the time for New York State to offer a single payer system under the Federal guidelines of the Affordable Care Act,” said Gail Cook, LPN, of SEIU 1199.  “New York has always been a leader on policy that eventually has become national policy.  For instance, the Wagner Act, workplace health and safety rules, laws against child labor – they all had their start in New York State. As a nurse, I want to see our state take the lead in providing affordable healthcare for all, so that as healthcare professionals, we can focus on what truly matters – giving the highest quality care to our patients.”

The hearing was the sixth of six hearings held in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Mineola, New York City, and now in Albany.  For more information including all dates and locations, please see: