Dec. 16, 2014
New York’s Single-Payer Legislation Would Provide the Benefits of Health Care to All New Yorkers
The Affordable Care Act Falls Short; New York Health Bill Would Cover Everyone While Cutting Costs
NEW YORK – New York should implement universal health care coverage for all its residents, Public Citizen told state lawmakers today as part of a series of meetings on the benefits of single-payer health care. Public forums are being held to hear from all New Yorkers on a proposal for a statewide single-payer health care system.
“It’s more urgent than ever for New Yorkers to learn about the benefits of universal health care,” said Vijay Das, health care advocate for Public Citizen.
Recent health care reform discussions in Washington, D.C., have centered around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yet the ACA wasn’t meant to be a universal health care system; rather, it curbed some of the most egregious insurance practices while expanding the benefits of insurance to more Americans, but while leaving insurance companies in charge of pricing policies and provision of care decisions.
Meanwhile, many people continue to struggle because the law was built on a weak foundation, preserving our pocketbook-busting and inefficient for-profit health insurance model, Das explained.
The ACA is leaving an estimated 30 million Americans uninsured, including an unconscionable one million veterans. A recent Harvard study estimated that 45,000 Americans die annually from a lack of insurance and tens of millions more suffer from underinsurance.
“The United States is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee health insurance to its citizens,” Das said. “What’s more, we spend more money on health care as a percentage of our gross domestic product than any other country in the world – rich or poor – with some of the worst outcomes.”
An example of a national, single-payer health system already exists in the United States: Medicare. Medicare is much more efficient than for-profit health insurance, with nonpartisan analyses estimating administrative costs for Medicare at 2-3 percent versus private insurance at 17 percent. Support for Medicare is one of the issues that most unifies all Americans.
Recognizing the shortcomings of the ACA, Congress included a provision in the law for individual states to apply for waivers to pursue their own single-payer health care systems. The waiver application opens in 2017; Vermont has already seized the opportunity to pass a universal health plan.
With a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, every American would have guaranteed health care. Universal health care bills pending in Congress (H.R. 676 and H.R. 1200/S. 1782) have garnered nearly 100 co-sponsors.
“It’s an exciting time for single-payer advocacy in the states, our laboratories of democracy,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Public Citizen stands with all those committed to make our health care system more fair, just and affordable for Americans of all ages and incomes.”
New York’s single-payer health care bill (S. 2078 and A. 5389) has 92 co-sponsors. More than 80 New York organizations have endorsed single-payer, including the Physicians for a National Health Program New York Metro Chapter; HealthCare-NOW! NYC; New York League of Women Voters; Green Party; Working Families Party; the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus; the AFL-CIO; and many other labor unions, health and consumer groups.
“New York has an important role to play to inform the public about the advantages of a single-payer universal health care system,” said Das. “Passing single-payer at the state level would provide substantial moral, economic and political benefits. Universal health insurance would help make our society more equitable and allow all people to pursue the American dream regardless of wealth or health.”
Three public hearings have been held; two other public forums are to be held on Dec. 17 in Mineola and on Jan. 13 in Albany.