As uncertainty over the future of the federal healthcare system persists, state Senate Democrats are proposing the creation of a single-payer public health system as part of a package of bills to help the state prep for potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation, touted by the Minority Democrats on Wednesday, would set up the frame work for a single-payer system, tasking state health officials with the actual implementation and devising the exact funding mechanism.
Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried in an interview Tuesday said the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act strengthens his long-sought effort to create a single-payer system in New York.
“What I think New York ought to be doing and the only thing a progressive state can do is enact a state-based improved Medicare for all or single-payer system,” Gottfried said. “The enormous savings we’d get by eliminating the administrative costs in the current system is the only way we can free up enough money to fill up the holes the federal government is going to be blasting in health care.”
New York officials are pondering what to do in the event of a repeal of the law by the Republican-controlled Congress. Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Tuesday said the state can’t really plan for an unraveling of the measure or what could potentially replace it.
The state did participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program and could see its safety net shrink if block grants are created for the program.
“What really scares me is what the federal government is going to cut the Medicaid program and damage Medicare,” Gottfried said.
Still, the more popular, consumer-focused aspects of the ACA are already enshrined in state law, Gottfried said.
“Fortunately, a lot of the insurance provisions, consumer safeguards and the like in the Affordable Care, are embedded in our law,” he said. “Many of them are embedded in our law for 20 years or more.”
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.
For the third year in a row, a bill is traveling through the New York legislature with the goal of creating a statewide single-payer healthcare system – more commonly known as ‘universal healthcare.’ Similar bills passed the state Assembly in 2015 and 2016, but failed to gain Senate approval. With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, advocates see this year’s attempt as more important than ever.
The bill – currently in committee with the state Senate – was sponsored by two Manhattan Democrats – Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried (A.4738) and Senator Bill Perkins (S.4371).
As President Trump and the Republican Congress threaten the health care coverage of millions of Americans, New York State could create a universal health care system that would save residents tens of billions of dollars — if the Legislature passes it.
I represent Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, and parts of Murray Hill and the Lincoln Center area in the State Assembly. I have been chair of the Assembly Health Committee since 1987. During off hours, I like to write Chinese calligraphy.