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(Video) ABC 13 Rochester: Advocates rally and testify in front of lawmakers for single-payer health care

By Antoinette Delbel, October 10 (video in link)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – A proposed law could transform health care across the state. The New York Health Act (A.5248/S.3577) would provide universal health coverage and would replace private insurance.

The proposal puts everyone under one health insurance plan, known as single-payer health care. Every New Yorker would have their health care covered by a public statewide fund, including existing federal support for Medicaid and Medicare.

The New York Health Act legislation prompted a passionate rally Thursday in front of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. They later moved inside the building for the state’s Committee on Health public hearing.

Margaret Marinari of Macedon is among the many who believe single-payer health care system would keep more people from falling through the cracks. She said she’s underinsured and can’t afford to go to the doctor’s office. With her husband’s health declining, she said they’re struggling to pay for medication.

“I can’t afford it,” Marinari said. “My husband and I worked all of our lives. We worked hard and because of everything that’s happening to him, we had to sell our land. All of our retirement is gone and now here we are.”

Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D- Rochester) co-sponsors the legislation and says it would provide more accessible, affordable and quality healthcare.

Our system right now is broken. We have far too many people who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Bronson. “Because we are reducing for the families here in Rochester and throughout the state, the cost of their deductible, the cost of their co-pays and the cost of their premiums, they’re actually going to be spending less out-of-pocket money.”

Under the plan, New Yorkers would no longer have to pay for premiums, deductibles and co-pays, but those who oppose the plan said it could significantly increase taxes and cause businesses to close.

Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Michael Kracker said the New York Health Act could also mean job losses.

“This is not a bureaucracy that’s known for efficiency and affordability. Ultimately, these costs balloon over time and are going to be shifted to taxpayers and businesses,” he said. “This proposal would impose billions of dollars in new taxes on them, and potentially eliminate 4,000 jobs here in health care immediately with the spin off in thousands of more down the road.”

Senator Pat Gallivan (R-Elma) is a ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on Health. While he agrees, everyone should have access to health care, he said the proposed law would increase the burden on taxpayers.

“I don’t think this is the right direction to go in,” said Gallivan. “We should be focusing on the affordability, not scrapping a system, throwing it out and trusting that government can do it better because government cannot do it better.”

Parent Scott Desnoyers, however, said universal health coverage could have saved his son’s life who couldn’t afford his premium. Daniel Desnoyers died in April. He was 29 years old.

“$20 was the price of my son’s life because of a corporate-controlled profit system that says we need money or you can die,” said Desnoyers.

The New York Health Act is similar to the federal proposal “Medicare for all.”

Thursday’s committee hearing is part of a series of hearings across the state. About 50 people testified in front of lawmakers.

The next hearing will be in the Bronx on Oct. 23. The fourth and last hearing is in November.

Democratic lawmakers are hopeful the bill will be brought to the floor for a vote and pass this upcoming session