Legislation Introduced to Make Health Care a Right in New York State

Doctors, Nurses, Patients Advocates Applaud Updated Single Payer Medicare for All Legislation by Gottfried, Duane and 70 lawmakers

Doctors, nurses, patients, senior citizens, anti-poverty advocates, faith leaders and medical administrators joined Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane in unveiling an updated and revised single payer legislative proposal for New York State. More than 70 state lawmakers are cosponsors

Assemblymember Gottfried had initially drafted a single payer plan for New York in the early 90s. The revised legislation incorporates changes that have been made in the state’s oversight of health care in the interim, advances in how to provide medical services, and the recent federal changes in the health care system. The legislation builds upon the momentum from last May when Vermont became the first state to enact a universal health care system which the Governor plans to make a single payer system, where on programs pays all bills.

“The current system doesn’t work for patients or health care providers, or for the employers, individuals, and taxpayers who pay for care and coverage today,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, author of the bill. “We can get better coverage, get all of us covered, and save billions by having New York provide publicly-sponsored, single-payer health coverage, like Medicare or Child Health Plus but for everyone.”

“Our current health insurance system is driven by uncertainty. Will my family have coverage? Can we afford it?,” said Senator Duane. “Single-payer is about removing that fear from peoples’ lives. It will allow all New Yorkers the same comfort that our seniors get from Medicare, and that our veterans get from TRICARE. It will allow entrepreneurs to worry about product innovation, not health insurance costs. It is time for single-payer in New York.”

Joining Assemblymember Gottfried and Senator Duane at the press conference were Katie Robbins of Health-Care Now!, Vito Grasso, Executive Vice-President of the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Asiya Tschannerl of Physicians for a National Health Program, Mark Dunlea of Single Payer NY / Hunger Action Network of NYS, Shaun Flynn of the NYS Nurses Association, and Rev. Bebb Stone.

Assemblymember Gottfried convinced lawmakers four years ago to fund a study of the most cost-effective way to provide health care to all New Yorkers. The answer was single payer, which would reduce overall health care expenditures in New York by $20 billion annually by 2019. The state study said that single payer would be $28 billion cheaper annually by 2019 than the insurance mandate enacted by Congress. In addition to saving money, single payer was the only plan that guaranteed that everyone would have access to health care services.

“The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has called single payer health care reform ‘a moral imperative’ since 2008. If I want health care coverage for myself ( and I do), how can I not want it equally for my neighbor whom I am commanded to love as myself?” asked Rev. Bebb Stone. “We believe that the value of persons requires that each person have full access to essential services without regard to ability to pay and on terms that enhance the dignity of the individuals” according to the 2008 resolution.

The proposal would provide comprehensive health coverage for all New Yorkers. Every New York resident would be eligible to enroll, regardless of age, income, wealth, employment, or other status. There would be no premium, deductibles, or co-pays. Coverage would be publicly funded. The benefits will include comprehensive outpatient and inpatient medical care, primary and preventive care, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, rehabilitative, dental, vision, hearing, etc.

“Even if the recent federal health insurance mandates survives the legal challenges, it fails to provide health care coverage to everyone and is financially unsustainable. Tens of millions of Americans will discover that the insurance they are forced to buy fails to pay for the health services they will need. Everyone knows that there is a better solution – single payer, expanded and improved Medicare for all – and New York should be the first one to put it in place,” said Mark Dunlea, Executive Director of Hunger Action Network.

“The simplest and quickest way to reduce health care costs is to eliminate the money wasted on health insurance, its profits and administrative costs, and the bureaucratic barriers it presents to health providers and consumers. If we got rid of insurance companies nationally, the annual savings would be more than $400 billion,” added Dunlea, chair of the state legislative committee of Single Payer New York, an umbrella organization.

“As a physician working in the Bronx, I see every day the profound limits of medicine when patients must ration their care due to high copays and deductibles,” said Dr. Asiya S. Tschannerl with Physicians for a National Health Program. “And too many patients have told me that they earn just a few dollars too much to qualify for Medicaid, and are now facing the horrible dilemma of – “do I reduce my income? or go without insurance since I couldn’t afford it.” Enough is enough. We need a truly universal healthcare system like every other industrialized nation on this planet. Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege! A Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for all would guarantee healthcare for all,” added Tschannerl, a member of Doctors for the 99% and Occupy Wall Street.

“We must end funding the waste, greed, and corruption of the health insurance companies, and move these resources to funding and providing actual healthcare. Insured or not, the Affordable Care Act pits people’s needs against profits for corporate-run healthcare. We can reverse this trend and recognize the right to healthcare by implementing the New York Health bill,” stated Katie Robbins of Healthcare-NOW! NYC.

“The Nurses Association firmly supports the establishment of a more equitable coverage system that directs scarce healthcare dollars towards providing universal access to high quality, cost-efficient health care for all New Yorkers – regardless of their age, income, health or employment status,” according to Deborah Elliott, RN, MBA, Deputy Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association.

Under the revised bill, health care would no longer be paid for by insurance companies charging a regressive “tax” – premiums, deductibles and co-pays – imposed regardless of ability to pay. Instead, New York Health would be paid for by assessments based on ability to pay, through a progressively-graduated payroll tax (paid 80% by employers and 20% by employees, and 100% by self-employed) and a surcharge on other taxable income. A specific revenue plan, following guidelines in the bill, would be submitted to the Legislature by the Governor.

Federal funds now received for Medicare, Medicaid, Family Health and Child Health Plus would be combined with the state revenue in a New York Health Trust Fund. New York would seek federal waivers that will allow New York to completely fold those programs into New York Health. The “local share” of Medicaid funding – a major burden on local property taxes – would be ended.

Private insurance that duplicates benefits offered under New York Health could not be offered to New York residents.

Assemblymember Gottfried, in his official sponsor memo, noted that “New Yorkers have experienced a rapid rise in the cost of health care and coverage in recent years. This increase has resulted in a large number of people without health coverage. Businesses have also experienced extraordinary increases in the costs of health care benefits for their employees. An unacceptable number of New Yorkers have no health coverage, and many more are severely underinsured.

“Health care providers are also affected by inadequate health coverage in New York State. A large portion of voluntary and public hospitals, health centers and other providers now experience substantial losses due to the provision of care that is uncompensated.”


  1. margaret on May 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Oh I love you all for this-Rock It!

    • Tom on May 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

      Haven’t we heard this before?? It all sounds great but the plan never goes anywhere and the insurance companies win again.. Just look at California who has tried to get single payer passed for years..Nice thought but good luck..

    • Bardock on May 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

      SO is it a universal Insurance legislation/ or is it an actual Universal Health Care system like it is everywhere else around the world, which we know works fully and without fail.
      I must say though this is ,again, a huge step in the development of a great Health Care System for the united States. I myself have been keeping a close eye on the US national Health polocies for I would like to one day work in your health field. unfortionatly I can’t work in a private setting. To fully activate a Universal Health System (hopefully paid through taxes) these would be a quick end to the Nursing shortage in your country…And no I am not the only one who thinks that way.

      This is a Very exciting time for you I am sure.

      Now if you would only be soo kind as to MAKE YOUR OWN MEDICATIONS AND STOP TAKING OUR’s. For it appears this is another advantage of a government run Health system, affordable medications.

      You Americans now have the know how and determination to stand on your own two feet. (sob)You’re all grown up now aern’t you…

  2. James on May 10, 2012 at 10:40 am


  3. Jennifer on May 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Go, New York! Please, let’s make this happen! I’m so proud to be a resident of a state where marriage equality is a right, now let’s go all the way with our progressive and humanitarian values and institute single payer health care!

  4. George Deane on May 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

    The Republicans will confront this issue with a solid wall of opposition. They seem to be happy with the status quo. I am a staunch supporter of the single payer system but am pessimistic about its prospects.

  5. ed cloonan on May 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    We need national single payer -MEDICARE FOR ALL. Anything on the state level that undermines the national nature of medicare will undermine our effort to wrench private insurance,pharmaceutical and hospital toxic profits from a system that must demand healthcare as a human right.

    • C Fish on May 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Unfortunately, ED, waiting for the federal government to enact single-payer could take decades longer. Aren’t you aware that the Supreme Court of the United States has been asked to hear the pro’s and con’s of the HealthCare Act that was passed a few years back under Pres Obama? The republicans are trying to get rid of the only progress made in years. I wanted national single-payer years ago. But, it will not happen on a national level in this country. Thanks to the greedy, deadly insurance companies. By individual states doing it, they can prove that it will work. Once they get enuf states to enact it, then it will become so expected that the states that haven’t enacted yet will be pressured more and more to come on board. Vermont has already done it. We are next because we are a relatively progressive state and hopefully we can crush the likes of BlueCross Blue Shield who have a strong-hold here. Notice that the anti-ObamaCare ads on TV right now are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. In New York, your local Chamber of Commerce is more than happy to sell you a nice expensive BlueCross Blue Shield Health Insurance Policy. At least in St Lawrence County. I think that constitues a nice conflict of interest. I am really surprised it’s even legal. So, yea, I agree. Medicare for all. But, it’s already been shown that even some Democrats in Congress haven’t been supportive of national healthcare. We just won’t be able to get it on a national level, at least at the current time.
      Thank you Senatore Duane for sponsoring this awesome bill!!!!!

      • Bardock on May 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

        well. Perhaps these, Republicans? you said, need the right encouragement to help pass a bill. Polotics is not rocket science (though they try to complicate it enough). Someone should gently remind them that most of their supplies and materials that your people use comes from my country. Only a Universal Health System has the ability to provide affordable medications and supplies for everyone around your country. if a Capitalist System worked they would have no need to take soo much from our’s.

        It is like a Big Brother who can’t afford his rent so he is living with us. But now he has a good Job but is unmotivated to work. Look man, you have to motivate yourself and MOVE OUT. Because I will tell ya, the freebies won’t keep coming.

  6. Robert S on May 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Universal healthcare for all is the best way to provide decent medical treatment for all of our citizens, rich and poor alike. Right now our managed care insurance companies are costly and unnecessary “middle-men” whose only purpose is to make a profit at the expense of the doctors and their patients.

  7. Nancy F Regaoado on May 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you, Tom Duane, for sponsoring this bill! We’re with YOU!

  8. Nancy F Regaoado on May 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Thank you Tom Duane for sponsoring this bill! We’re with you all the way!

  9. Nancy F Regaoado on May 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you, Senator Duane, for sponsoring this bill! We’re with you all the way!

  10. Diane on May 11, 2012 at 12:42 am

    I don’t care which state gets there first and will root for all of these efforts. Thanks to all the activists pushing this change forward.
    Together we will get there.
    What a great article to read at the end of day.

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