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Universal health care advocates deliver petition with 10,000 signatures for single-payer bill

Patient advocates and medical professionals joined Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and State Senator Bill Perkins for a press conference today in support of “New York Health” (A. 5389-A/S.2078-A), legislation creating a universal, single payer health coverage plan. Advocates came to Albany to deliver a petition of 10,000 signatures to the Governor and legislative leaders in support of this single payer health plan.

Gottfried and Perkins were joined at the press conference by Oliver Fein, MD, Chair, and Laurie Wen, Executive Director, Physicians for a National Health Program/NY Metro; Anthony DePaulo, Executive Council, NYS AFL-CIO and International Vice President, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE); Wayne Bayer, Public Employees Federation Executive Board Member and Delegate to the Albany and Troy Labor Councils; Gaen Hooley, NYS Nurses Association; Mark Dunlea, co-founder of Single Payer NY and Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network of NYS; Rebecca Elgie, Co-Coordinator, Single Payer NY; Mark Hannay, Director, Metro NY Health Care for All Campaign; and Katie Robbins, Organizer, Healthcare-NOW! NYC.

New York Health replaces insurance company coverage, premiums, co-pays, and limited choices of providers with publicly-sponsored coverage with a benefit package more comprehensive than most commercial health plans. The bill has 90 co-sponsors in addition to Assembly Member Gottfried and Senator Perkins. New York would be the second state to pass groundbreaking legislation for single-payer health care, following Vermont in 2011.

“President Obama said, ‘No American should ever spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.’ But it shouldn’t be just our golden years,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “Health care should be a right, not a privilege. Coverage should be driven by the needs of patients, not insurance companies and stockholders. You and your doctor work to keep you healthy. New York Health will pay the bill.”

“Healthcare should be about health, not profit. I applaud Assembly Member Gottfried for recognizing this as the lead sponsor of the single payer bills over the years.  For some this may be a new issue, but this idea has been around for years and its time has more than come,” said Senator Perkins.

No one would have to give up their preferred doctor or other providers. Instead of individuals and employers paying high premiums, deductibles and co-pays, coverage would be funded through a graduated tax on income based on ability to pay. New Yorkers would be covered for all medically necessary services including primary, preventive, and specialist care; hospital; mental health; reproductive health; dental; vision; prescription drug; and medical supplies.

“I have always advocated that your health is your wealth. Affordable health care demands broad bipartisan support. I’m proud to sponsor this important bill and look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor to see it become law,” Senator Perkins added.

For most people, New York Health will represent a net income savings compared to the current, regressive system of insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

Single payer models have dramatically lower administrative costs than private insurance. In 2009, the New York State Department of Health and Insurance Department found that a single-payer system would provide universal coverage at a lower total cost than plans relying on private, employer-based coverage. (“Reforms to Achieve Quality, Affordable Coverage for All New Yorkers,” New York State Department of Health / Insurance Department Partnership for Coverage, July 17, 2009.)

Organizations supporting New York Health include:
•    American Academy of Pediatrics–District II
•    Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU
•    Doctors Council/SEIU
•    Doctors for America–New York
•    Finger Lakes for New York Health – Ithaca, NY
•    Healthcare-NOW! NYC
•    Hunger Action Network of New York State
•    IATSE — Local 1
•    League of Women’s Voters of New York State
•    Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
•    National Physicians Alliance–New York
•    New York State Academy of Family Physicians
•    New York State AFL-CIO
•    New York State Nurses Association
•    New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
•    Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro Chapter
•    Rekindling Reform
•    Single Payer New York
•    Statewide Senior Action Council
•    United University Professions