By Madeline Zevon
In the last legislative session, the New York Health Act, a single-payer bill that would bring universal, comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare to every New Yorker, passed the NY State Assembly 94 to 46 and had 31 co-sponsors in the New York State Senate — just one vote shy of a majority.
New York Health has had far too little public conversation. Our current multi- payer healthcare system is financially unsustainable, and leaves millions of New Yorkers uninsured and under-insured. NY Health would cover every New Yorker with comprehensive benefits, and a recent economic study by Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts concluded that NYHA would save us $45 billion per year over what we pay now. How is that possible?
We waste almost 30% of our healthcare dollars on activities and people who do not promote health. Approximately 20% of every dollar spent for private health insurance pays for marketing, profit and administration. Because it is a single-payer system, Traditional Medicare’s overhead is about 2%. Our multi-payer system also causes hospitals and doctors to spend significant sums on insurance paperwork.
Additionally, New York Health, when passed, will negotiate substantial price discounts on drugs and medical devices: our Veterans Administration saves about 40% — as do many peer countries who purchase from the same companies.
We pay almost twice as much as peer countries for healthcare and get worse health outcomes: we’re the only developed country with a rising maternal death rate and we’re 35th in life expectancy.
Today, our current regressive system costs the same whether you’re a CEO or a secretary. NY Health would be funded by a progressive payroll tax based on ability to pay. Employees will no longer be “job locked, because their insurance stays with them if they change jobs. Because there would be no premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays or out-of-network charges — no charges for teeth cleaning or getting dentures, for eye exams or hearing aids, no charges for prescriptions or medical devices — no New Yorker would have to worry about IRS medical deductions or medical bankruptcy, as 5% of us do each year.
What does universal, comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare mean for New York? It means all of us, rich and poor alike, would be covered for all medically necessary services — more comprehensive than commercial health plans, and better than Medicare. Better individual coverage, better public health outcomes, AND our total cost goes down.
The League of Women Voters of New York has long supported universal access to essential healthcare. We ask voters of every political persuasion to recognize that our democracy requires elected representatives to listen to voters, and that paying for healthcare has become unsustainable for individuals AND for local and state budgets.
We believe healthcare is a human right, that taxpayers deserve the fiscal economy of NY Health, and that lawmakers should listen to voters.
Join us in grassroots advocacy. Talk to your neighbors. Call your representatives. New York needs campaign finance reform and the New York Health Act. To learn more, go to www.nyhcampaign.org.
–Madeline Zevon is the Health Care Chair League of Women Voters of Westchester and New York State.
Learn more at this event sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Westchester
The Good Cents of “Medicare for All” The New York State Health Act
Thursday, March 1, 7 – 9 p.m. White Plains Public Library,100 Martine Ave., 2nd floor meeting room.
Film: Now is the Time: Health Care for Everybody
Speakers: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried NYS Health Committee, Leonard Rodberg, PhD., Emeritus Professor & Department Chair of Urban Studies at Queens College; Research Director, NY Metro Chapter, Physicians for a National Health Program