FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Working Families Party State Director Bill Lipton released this statement:
The Working Families Party is New York’s grassroots progressive political party. WFP has won statewide increases in the minimum wage, a landmark green jobs program, and reforms to the state’s Rockefeller drug laws. In New York City, the WFP recently won a three-year long campaign for paid sick days; the Council has passed a bill that will guarantee paid sick days to an estimated one million New Yorkers.
The Working Families Party submits this memo in strong support of A.5389-A/S.2078-A, a bill that will establish the New York Health program, a comprehensive and universal single-payer system of access to health insurance for all New York state residents.
The Working Families Party is an independent, progressive party that fights for every day New Yorkers. As part of our long-standing advocacy for health care and vulnerable populations, the WFP stands in support of A.5389-A/S.2078-A, to ensure that every New York resident will be eligible to enroll in a good health care plan, regardless of age, income, wealth, employment, or other status.
Health care is a paramount concern of working families and should be a right of all, not a privilege for the few. This legislation represents an important and necessary step toward eliminating the unacceptable number of New Yorkers who have no health coverage, and the even greater number who are severely underinsured. While the Affordable Care Act has made important improvements in our health care system, it still leaves us with a system dominated by insurance companies, with high premiums, deductibles and co-pay requirements; restrictions on which doctors or hospitals patients can access and what care they will pay for; and high administrative costs and profits for insurance companies at the expense of the rate payers.
Establishing the New York Health program will optimize federal funds received by the State; help hold-the-line on the rapid rise in the cost of health care coverage that burdens individuals, employers, and taxpayers; and provide relief for voluntary and public hospitals as well as health care centers and other providers now experiencing substantial losses due to the provision of care that is uncompensated.
· All New Yorkers would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: primary, preventive, specialists, hospital, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug, and medical supply costs – more comprehensive than commercial health plans.
· New Yorkers would have freedom to choose their health care providers, without the encumbrance of restricted networks. Patients and their doctors – not insurance companies – would be free to make health care decisions.
· Health care would be paid for fairly, funded through a graduated tax on payroll and non-payroll taxable income, based on ability to pay. The current system in which insurance companies set the same high premiums regardless of whether you’re a CEO or receptionist amounts to a regressive tax on patients and employers who are forced to pay high premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Under the NY Health Program, most people will realize a substantial reduction in what they now spend.
· There would be less administrative waste and more accountability. The total cost would be tens of billions less, because we would not be paying the high insurance company administrative costs and profits, and “gatekeepers” for insurance company profits will be replaced by professional counselors optimizing cost-effective health care. The system would be accountable to the people it serves, not the insurance company stockholders.
· Costs for employers - large and small - would be reduced by taking them out of the business of buying health coverage, making New York drastically more business friendly, especially for small businesses, start-ups, non-profits and local governments.
FACTS IN SUPPORT:
· Five New Yorkers die every day due to lack of health care, and many go bankrupt as a result of medical bills.
· The single-payer model inherently stimulates care coordination, and its attendant higher levels of primary care, wellness care, and cost efficiency.
· The Urban Institute, in a 2009 study, identified single-payer plans as the most cost-effective way to provide health care to all New Yorkers, compared to plans relying on insurance companies and employment-based coverage.
· A new report by the non-partisan, Public Citizen, shows how a state single-payer plan can be enacted even with federal laws like the ACA and Medicare. And the state of Vermont is implementing a single-payer law passed in 2011.
· Single-payer health care coverage will eliminate the need for small business to provide health care coverage, make them more competitive, and more capable of hiring.
· The New York Health bill has the broad support of eight physician organizations, the NYS Nurses Association, a number of unions, and 91 members of the State Legislature.
New York State has always been at the vanguard of innovative ideas and progressive action. Single-payer health coverage will eliminate the cruel narrative of individuals who are deprived of affordable care and choice because of decisions by health plans guided only by the plan's economic needs, rather than the needs and rights of patients. 70 years ago, with the world embroiled in war, Franklin Roosevelt declared the need for a second “Bill of Rights” that would provide a new basis of security and prosperity for all, regardless of station, race or creed. Universal, publicly-financed health care coverage in New York will save lives and money, maintain the jobs of health care providers, and finally achieve the basic human right denied to so many - a more fair and just system of health care for all.
Working Families Party strongly supports A.5389-A/S.2078-A (Gottfried/Perkins), to establish the single-payer New York Health Program.